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CLUB LAW & MANAGEMENT

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

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

We have been considering offering some sort of corporate membership to businesses in and around our Club. Can you offer any advice to ensure we comply with rules and regulations?

ln practice, corporate embers would have to be individually elected and must qualify for membership in the same way as other members. They could not be excluded from having voting rights and would therefore be members who would enjoy all the facilities of membership without paying the same subscription. I have found that this is not a proposal which ordinary Club Members support.

l understand the concept of corporate membership and how it works with licensed clubs and, in particular, gyms and sports clubs. However, you will appreciate that private members’ clubs operate under a Club Premises Certificate and are governed by different rules.

l think it is sensible for clubs to promote their facilities among local businesses and the business community. A leaflet with details of the Club’s activities could be sent to local business addresses and existing members who work for or own local businesses should be approached and asked to become involved in a specific membership recruitment campaign.

Membership recruitment and club advertising are subjects which we have covered in previous editions of the magazine and which are also contained in the Club Law & Management book.

 

We have a lady who is employed by the club who until recently was paying tax and national insurance at the normal rate, she is now over sixty and does not pay national insurance any more. She is, however, paying tax on her earnings. Is she entitled to sick pay now she no longer pays national insurance?

Below is an extract from Statutory Sick Pay advisory document published by the Pay & Employment Rights Service which answers the query which you have raised. Please note that payment of Statutory Sick Pay may be recovered by the Club.

"REMEMBER: Your right to SSP does not depend on your actual payment of NI contributions. As long as your average pay is £90 per week or above, you are entitled to SSP. For example, women over 60, who are no longer liable to pay NI, will still get SSP if they earn at least £90 per week."

 

Our Club employs a residential Steward who receives a heating allowance from the government. This seems unfair since the Club pays for the heat and light used in the residential accommodation. ls the Steward entitled to this allowance?

According the infomation we have received from the Winter Fuel Payment Helpline, everyone over 60 is entitled to receive Winter Fuel Allowance. It is up to the person who gets the allowance as to whether they spend it on heating or not.

It seems, therefore, the Club has no entitlement to claim this allowance from the Steward. I appreciate this sounds unreasonable.

It may be the Club will no longer be able to continue to employ a residential Steward if the Club’s business declines. If this is the case then the Steward will be made redundant and will lose the accommodation. In view of the projected increase in fuel costs we have found that some clubs with residential stewards are not awarding pay rises beyond the national minimum wage in order to help pay for the domestic energy use.

The Winter Fuel Payment Helpline is on 08459 15 15 15.

 

Our Club is aware that all electrical equipment must be subject to PATs (portable appliance tests). We have carried out this work at some expense but we cannot find out how frequently these tests should occur We are receiving conflicting advice. What are the guidelines?

I have raised your question with Marsh, our approved insurance company, and set out below is the advice which they produce on this subject.

Inspection and Testing
There are two types of test. A "formal visual inspection", which can be carried out by competent employees and a "combined inspection and testing" which is more likely to be carried out by contractors. Most faults can be identified by the formal visual inspections - physical damage to cables or plugs, non standard joints including taped joins in the cable, burn marks or equipment being used in unsuitable dusty or damp environments. However other faults can only be identified by "combined inspection and testing". Frequencies for both tests vary depending on the equipment and environment. Hand tools in an industrial environment may need 6 monthly tests, computers in an office may only need 2 yearly visual checks and 5 yearly formal test.

 

We are holding a Special General Meeting next week. The members will be asked to agree an increase in their subscriptions next year. The Steward and I have had a number of people say that they do not go out at night but wish to vote for the proposal. We have been advising them that they cannot vote by proxy. I note that the rules state that the voting is based on those who attend the meeting but can you tell me why proxy votes are not permitted?

I understand why members ask this question which is also often raised in respect of postal voting. The fact is, however, that without a provision for either proxy or postal voting within a Club’s Rules such forms of voting cannot take place.

I hope those members who have asked for a proxy vote will appreciate that it is not possible to permit proxy voting on the casual basis which has been suggested without provision for it in the Rules. For every member who cannot attend the meeting with one view, there will be another in a similar position who holds the alternative view. I would recommend that the Rules, which have served the Club well in this respect for many years are not amended.

 

In the recent past we have had a new business open opposite to us which has been a cause 0f some problems. It appears that some people visiting this business believe they have a right to use our parking spaces. We are considering purchasing a wheel clamp. We understand the law requires certain actions to be taken before using a clamp but do not know what these are. Can you help?

In order for the Club to use a clamp it must register for a licence with the Security lndustry Authority (SIA).

l would suggest that if you want to introduce wheel clamping you start by simply putting up notices which comply with the regulations and say that wheel clamping is in operation. Some Clubs have found this to be enough to solve the problem without doing any more. I know one Club where the Secretary clamps his own car as a physical deterrent for other rogue parkers. This action would require no more that purchasing signs and a clamp. If, however, you wanted to extend this to clamping other vehicles then an SIA licence would be needed.

I would advise you not to get involved with a wheel clamping company, whether licensed or not, they tend to have a poor reputation. You will appreciate that they will never be interested in the Club’s reputation or public relations. These companies’ sole focus is to obtain releasing fees regardless of whether a car owner may, for example, be a member’s guest or visiting I.A. Ticket holder (or myself for that matter).

 

ls it possible for members to purchase drinks on credit? We have some members who wish to be able to enjoy this facility but we have been advised that to give credit for drinks is against the law.

The provisions of Section 166 within the previous 1964 Licensing Act made the provision of credit for drinks within licensed premises or a registered club illegal. However, this section was effectively repealed without replacement in the Licensing Act 2003. As such there are no longer any restrictions imposed on the extension of credit in licensed premises.

Whilst it may now be legal to provide credit I think each club committee should consider whether the introduction of credit or "tab" facilities within a club would be advisable. The fact is that keeping a total of drinks purchased creates additional work for bar staff, can be a area of dispute and I am sure that most clubs will have concerns about extending such facilities to every member given that there will always be a few that will abuse it. l am sure that most club officers would not wish to involve themselves in debt collection from members.