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Club Law and Management

by Philip Smith, Secretary of the A.C.C.

Questions and Answers

This month I have again used the popular question and answer format for the Club Law and Management page of our magazine. I was recently asked by a Club Secretary who commented on how much he enjoyed this format, whether the questions were real or if I made them up. I was pleased to inform him that every question that has ever been published in this long series of magazine articles has been genuinely been asked by a Club Secretary or Officer. The reason for this is quite simple; it is much easier to create a magazine article from answers you have already written. By using genuine questions, I also ensure that the information given is relevant to real queries being raised by Clubs. Obviously we never mention a Club by name and we do not publish all the advice which we give on a day to day basis otherwise the magazine would become a document of several volumes. I hope, however, that you enjoy reading this month's selection and the Clubs will continue to contact the ACC for help, assistance and guidance whenever it is needed.

Q. We understand from your magazine that the Equality Bill has been approved by Parliament and will become law by October 2010. We currently only allow non-voting Lady Associate Members. Come October, must we convert all Ladies to full membership?

A. I confirm that the membership policy which the Club currently operates will become unlawful. We strongly recommend that all Clubs update their Rules as soon as possible. The vast majority of Conservative Clubs have already updated their Rules and need to take no further action. Indeed, there are very few ACC affiliated Clubs which still operate a policy of non-voting ladt associate membership.

The ACC can draft an amendment to the Club's Rules for approval, all existing Lady Members would automatically become full members of the Club and all future female candidates for membership could only be elected to full membership.

It would also be entirely acceptable for the Club to introduce new alternative rates of subcription such as joint subscription for couples, widows of past members, or members who are retired. These subcriptions rates may even encourage new members to join the Club. Please note, the new legislation is concerned with voting rights not rates of subcription. In our experience it is the question of increased subsciption. In our experience it is the question of increased subscription which is the main, if not the only, argument against electing ladies to full membership. In my opinion any other argument would have absolutely no foundation.


Q. One of our members is a veteran and it has been suggested that under ACC Rules he should be allowed free membership of the Club. Is this the case?

A. Veterans are not normally automatically eligible for free membership. However, often the Club's Rules will allow honorary memberships. The Committee can elect such member as it sees fit to be honorary members. It might be that the Committee wishes to make veterans honorary members, although this is entirely at the Committee's discretion.


Q. We have a Club member who also has her own catering business. She has been providing hot food which has proved very popular with our members but this is not proving cost-effective from the caterer's point of view. Can we allow non-members into the Club to purchase the food?

A. Your Club Premises Certificate states that you cannot provide alcohol to anyone who is not either a member or a member's guest. Clearly opening the Club to the public would place the Club's Premises Cerificate at risk. The way to approach this situation is to encourage members to not only make use of the facility but also to encourage them to invite guests to make use of this facility.

Q. The Committee have recently given consideration to having an open day. Please could you send me details of how we can legally publicly advertise such an event?

A. If the Club would like to hold an open day for prospective members to visit and enjoy the facilities of the Club then a Temporary Events Notice should be applied for with the Local Authority. You may then admit visitors to the Club for up to 72 hours. You cannot admit visitors to the Club on other occcasions unless they are bona fide guests of members.


Q. Could you tell us what an employee's holiday entitlement is and whether this includes bank holidays? Also, should they be paid extra if they work a bank holiday?

A. A full time employee is required by law to have 28 days of paid leave per year. Whether or not amount this includes bank holidays depends whether the employee is expected to work bank holidays. It would be quite normal in the hospitality industry for an employee to be expected to work on bank holidays.

Often a higher rate of pay is paid on bank holidays, but this is at the discretion of individual employers. There is no reason that working a bank holiday or a Sunday legally requires a higher hourly rate of pay than usual. We suggest you look at past conduct regarding this issue.


Q. Should the Steward and assitant Steward have keys to the Treasurer's/Secretary's office?

A. Whilst it is a matter for individual Clubs, it is fair to say that it is not normal for the Steward and Assistant Steward to have keys to the offices unless there is a good reason for them needing access.


Q. Is it a legal requirement that a Club has a 'Relief Steward'? Our Steward has left and in these difficult times we are all trying to establish ways to cut overheads.

A. We can confirm that it is not a requirement for a Club to have a relief steward. As long as you have sufficient cover in place, proper stock and cash security and that the maintenance duties such as piper cleaning are undertaken as normal, then the Committee may organise their other employees' schedules as they see fit.

Q. The Committee are wondering if there were any rules regarding re-employment of someone who has previously worked for the Club?

A. Whilst there is no reason that someone that has previously worked for the Club cannot be re-employed it is important that a reasonable amount of time has passed between the two periods of employment.

Should only a short period of time has elapsed between employment periods then it could be held that a continuous period of employment has taken place which will limit your ability to dismiss this employee within their first year of employment.


Q. We have a Club Machine Permit and have recently been sent an invoice for £50 for the "Annual Fee". We were never aware of an annual fee before, just a renewal fee. Is this fee correct?

A. Yes this fee is correct, in addition to a reneral fee of £100 there will be an annual fee of £50.


Q. We have an employee who has been on sick leave and is about to return to the Club, however we wish to mae sure we do not ask them to perform any duties which could place their health at risk. What information should we request from the employee?

A. Earlier this year Fit Notes were introduced. These are meant to have replaced sick notes by telling the employer what the employee is capable of doing. There is no reason you cannot request such an note from this employee's doctor so that the Club can make sure she is not asked to do any work which could place her health at risk. We also suggest that you request that this employee obtains some guidance from her doctor so that you assign her appropriate duties.


Q. We have a problem with holding our A.G.M. before the end of August, which is the deadline according to our Rule book. The Auditors cannot complete the accounts before the deadline. What should we do?

A. We suggest that you hold your AGM and have the accounts as the final item on the agenda. All the other items on the agens can be conducted as normal, when you reach the Accounts Item you should adjourn the meeting to such a time and date as the members present may determine.

When you re-open the meeting on whichever date has been decided upon the issue of the Accounts may be raised and voted upon, however no other matters are to be discussed at this adjourned meeting. Once the Accounts have been presented and discussed then the meeting must be closed.