Questions and Answers
Q The Committee are seeking to employ a new Club Secretary. We have an existing employee who works behind the bar who may be suitable for this job. Is it advisable to employ a person as both Secretary and a bar employee?
A If the Committee wish to employ a person for the role of Club Secretary then there is no legal reason why the person who is presently employed behind thebar could not be considered for the role of Secretary. Whilst there could be concerns over employing one person as both Secretary and as a bar employee (due to the level of access they would have to Committee Meeting Minutes and other confidential information), should there be a candidate who the Committee had faith in then it would be permissible to allow them to apply for the role. The Committee would simply have to be confident that their present duties and obligations as a bar employee would be able to be balanced with their obligations and responsibilities as Club Secretary. It is therefore important to take the time to establish if the present employee would be the correct person to occupy both roles.
I also suggest that the Committee keep an open mind regarding alternative candidates and go through a proper search and subsequent interview process. You will appreciate that a good Club Secretary will be someone who is very good at office administration, organisation and minute taking which, to be fair, may not have been the specific qualities you considered when originally employing the person in question to work behind the bar.
Q As the Club is a registered Industrial and Provident Society I understand that we are required to keep on the premises a Register of Members. We use electronic software to manage our Club’s Members details; does this qualify as the Register of Members as required by the Act or do we need a hard copy?
A You are correct that the Club is required to hold a list of the names and addresses of the Club’s Members. Regarding the form of the Register, the Act states this:
“The said register may be kept either by making entries in bound books or by recording the matters in question in any other manner; but, where it is not kept by making entries in a bound book but by some other means, adequate precautions shall be taken for guarding against falsification and facilitating its discovery.”
Therefore, the Club is able to keep the Register electronically so long as adequate precautions are taken against the Register being amended. A simple computer password would likely be deemed sufficient to satisfy this requirement. It would, however, be helpful for the software you use to have the ability to print out a list of the Club’s Members, along with their addresses, in case you are ever required to present the Register for inspection to a Licensing Officer and as a hard copy backup of the electronic information.
Q We are recruiting a new Steward. Can you let us know what professional qualification we should be looking for the correct candidate to possess?
A In the area of work as a Club Steward I think professional qualifications are sometimes less important than the employment history of the person and their character. Someone well versed in the licensed trade from previous work, who is friendly and will get on with the Club’s Members is likely to be a better choice than someone who simply has professional qualifications in a related area of work.
It is relatively straightforward to train an employee who is the right person but may need specific training on a particular area (stocktaking for example) and as such it is not a huge problem if the person you would like to hire does not have specific experience of every area of the role. Inn Dispensable, who the ACC work with on occasion, provide a variety of training courses for employees in the licensed sector.
This is not to say that professional qualifications are not helpful but I
think it is fair to say that many of the best Club Stewards may not have any professional qualifications at all. It is very much a service
area and therefore the type of personality that the candidate has is an important aspect to consider when interviewing candidates. An ideal candidate will enjoy working in a Club environment and will supplement this with experience of working in the licensed trade.
Q Earlier in the year, the Chancellor announced a £2,000 small business tax relief. We have not fully benefited from this tax relief as we have had an employee on sick leave and have paid them Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). We would normally reclaim the SSP but we cannot do so until it amounts to more than the £2,000 initial tax relief. Are we legally obligated to pay SSP?
A This is an issue which has cropped up for Clubs this year. Whilst the £2,000 tax relief was a well-received bonus for small businesses it has meant that SSP has to be paid by the business
for the first £2,000 paid which resulted in some small employers not benefitting from the initial tax relief as much as they expected. It is, however, still a good result for most Clubs as many Clubs will not have an SSP bill approaching £2,000 in a single year. Regarding your second question, the payment of SSP is legally required for eligible employees. An eligible employee is one who has been off work through sickness for at least 4 cumulative days (including nonworking days) up to a maximum period of 28 weeks. SSP is paid at a rate of £87.55 per week and to be eligible a worker must earn at £111 per week before tax. If Clubs have any specific problems relating to employees on long term sick leave then please contact the ACC for further advice.
Q Our Secretary currently records the Committee Meetings using a voice recorder to assist in the preparation of the Committee Minutes. Everyone in the meetings is aware of the recording taking place. Are we required to keep the audio recording of the Committee Meeting or can it be discarded once the formal Minutes have been prepared and accepted by the Committee?
A There is no requirement to retain an audio recording of a Committee Meeting if one has been made. The Minutes of a Committee Meeting are normally prepared by a Club’s Secretary and then are approved as correct at the next Committee Meeting. If the minutes contain errors then these should be raised at the Committee Meeting during the agenda item confirming the Minutes. It may therefore be helpful to retain the audio recording until the Minutes have been approved (in case of a dispute arising) by the Committee and then properly dispose of the audio recording. Increasingly Clubs do record Committee Meetings to aid the production of the minutes and there is nothing
wrong with this approach.