Thursday, 9 January 2014

Home workers need to check the rules

If you’ve started working from home, should you be paying business rates? And could you be breaking the law by not displaying your company’s nameplate outside the front door?

With a rapid rise in the number of people using their homes as offices, employment law expert Tina Chander says these are just two issues which should be considered.

“With businesses trying to keep overheads to a minimum, many employees will have been asked to maybe keep stock in their garage, or work remotely from an office at their home,” said Tina, from our commercial team in Telford. “As a general rule of thumb, as long as your property is still mainly used as your home, there won’t be a problem. So a spare room being used as an office, or some non-hazardous stock being stored in the garage, is fine.

“But that does not mean there may not be consequences - you might have to pay business rates. There is no hard and fast rule on this because it is up to every council to decide, in conjunction with the valuation office.”

Tina said there were some common misconceptions over the rules concerning company nameplates.

“Contrary to popular belief, it’s not just the registered office which must show one. Company law says that each and every place at which business is carried on must display a sign showing the registered name.

“However, most people are exempted from this, because one of the exceptions is when the premises is primarily used for living accommodation . . . in other words, your home. So, for most homeworkers, they will not be opening themselves up to extra rates, or breaking the law.

“But you should contact your local council for permission if you intend to use your home regularly for company business. It’s advisable to check first, rather than get hit with a surprise bill later.”