Monday, 25 March 2013

Truth and lies - the real story

Over 50 employers from across the Midlands were given the chance to judge between the truth and lies of workplace law thanks to our employment law specialist, John Mehtam.

He's hosting a series of events around the region to share his knowledge, and his first event was held at the Ramada Park Hall Hotel, in Wolverhampton, when delegates heard the real story of Employment Law today.

“We were very pleased to see so many employers at the presentation and the response so far has been extremely positive,” said John. “It was a great opportunity for employers to learn about the current trends and for us to clear up some of the myths surrounding law in the workplace.”

John set out the right way to tackle various issues, and helped employers learn how to avoid falling into the most common traps. He covered topics such as sickness absence, dismissals and employee performance and helped the employers tell the difference between what is actually law and what may just be a myth.

“I will now be running more events of this kind across the region, and revealing the blunders frequently made by other employers in order that our delegates can learn from their mistakes,” said John. “These seminars are a perfect way for busy employers to keep up-to-date with the ever-changing world of employment law as they cover a vast subject in a concise, clear and convenient way.”

Pic:    Martin-Kaye’s John Mehtam at the Truth and Lies presentation in Wolverhampton

Friday, 22 March 2013

Simpler shares rules would be good news

Commercial law experts at Martin-Kaye Solicitors have welcomed proposals which could simplify the rules over company shares.
Stuart Haynes, from our commercial corporate team, said currently there were extremely strict regulations in place about how shares markets should operate within a business.
“New proposals have now been submitted to the Government to suggest a simplified shares process in a bid to encourage more employees to take up the offer, and to help improve the operation of internal share markets.
“These include reducing the number of shareholder votes required to authorise buying back shares from 75% to 50%, and allowing private limited companies to pay for their own shares in instalments. This is a very important move, as it will help companies who have been struggling to make enough distributable profits during the recession to reconsider their position, and allow them to re-organise and move forward.
“The new rules would also allow private limited companies to hold shares they buy back as treasury shares, which means they can be reissued.”
Stuart said the proposals would allow companies to approve multiple buy backs in advance through a single resolution, and private limited companies would be able to finance any buy backs connected to an employee share scheme out of their capital budget.
“It will be extremely interesting to see how these proposals develop, particularly given the ongoing economic difficulties the country is facing, as they really could help companies make some progress.The proposals are a good step in the right direction towards cutting red tape and simplifying processes to make companies more efficient and to reduce company costs.
“Let’s hope the final version of the proposals is as positive and helpful as this first initial batch.”

Pic: Stuart Haynes

Friday, 1 March 2013

Could you fight the cyber attackers?

Any company using computers is vulnerable to a cyber attack and must take vital steps to protect themselves - that's the message from our senior partner, Graham Davies.

"It's not just the major multi-national companies who are likely to be targets for online attackers. Every small and medium-sized company with an online presence could also be vulnerable to online threats, and it's important for business owners to make their systems as safe as possible."

He said the most common risk was a third party attack which could cause damage to the company website, causing technology to fail and interrupting the day-to-day running of the business.

"You could also lose personal or business information if the cyber attack accesses vital customer details, so it really does make sense to prepare for the worst."

Malicious software is often used to hijack individual computers and other equipment, or to release a virus, but an attack could also come from an employee who has inside access to the company's IT systems. If an attack does happen, there are two laws that may apply - the Computer Misuse Act 1990, and the Data Protection Act 1998.

"But of course the most difficult thing is that whoever carried out the cyber attack must first be tracked down and this is almost impossible. So your company should take effective measures now to both prevent a cyber attack happening and to minimise the damage one would cause if it ever happened," said Graham.

"Look at the risks to your system and ask how well information is being processed and managed, and who or what could compromise your online performance. And if you take on a new employee, check them out thoroughly before you give them access to sensitive information.

"You should also regularly review your IT policies and remind any staff using laptops or other devices at home or away from the office that they should only use secure WiFi networks when they transmit or receive confidential files.

"Don't ignore the risks as a cyber attack is a real possibility and it could threaten your entire business if you leave yourself in a vulnerable position."

Tempt your customers to pay on time

Small businesses who are struggling with cash flow due to late payment of invoices need to take urgent action.

Our senior partner, Graham Davies, said although the Government had called on larger businesses and local authorities to pay more promptly, the message was still not getting through.

"For many small and medium-sized businesses, this is a real issue, and they are struggling with the ebb and flow of erratic cash transfers. Companies have been encouraged to back the Prompt Payment Code, but this is voluntary and if a large business or organisation does sign up, and then ignores the ethos, they don't face any kind of penalty.

"So it's up to smaller businesses to take action in order to protect themselves, and they need to look at incentives to motivate their clients to pay more promptly."

Graham said most invoices were issued with strict payment terms, such as "payment due within 30 days".

"But you could consider including a clause that gives them a small discount if they pay early - it may sound as though you'd be losing money, but in fact you'd have the vast majority of the payment in your bank earlier than planned, and it would save you the time and cost of chasing for payment.

"And to make such a discount even more tempting, include a reference on the invoice that interest will be applied to the full outstanding amount from the first day payment is overdue and include the rate you plan to charge.

"If you don't mention the actual rate you will use, you will only be entitled to charge the county court rate which is currently 8% - why not increase the rate to perhaps 15%?

"When your customer looks at the options of paying early at a discount or facing late payment charges at that kind of level, they will surely see sense and pay your bill as soon as possible."