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CLUB LAW AND MANAGEMENT

DATES FOR YOUR 2015 DIARY

Club Secretaries will have in their minds – and hopefully in their diaries – the dates by which certain returns and applications have to be made. I hope the following check list will assist Clubs in carrying out this useful exercise.

Club Premises Certificate

Whilst there is no specific renewal date of a Club Premises Certificate it is necessary for an annual fee to be paid to the local Licensing Authority in order for the Club Premises Certificate to remain in force. Therefore, look out for any renewal invoice received from your local Licensing Authority and ensure that it is paid promptly.

Performing Rights Society & Phonographic Performances Ltd

The PRS and PPL Licenses need to be renewed each year. These Licenses cover different types of copyright payable for playing any type of music within the Club.

There are two types of license required to be paid to the PPL depending on whether the Club plays background music or uses recorded music at a dance or discotheque or similar function. In the case of the latter, the fee is on a sliding scale basis.

In January, fees are payable to the PRS. These payments are fixed under an Agreement with the PRS and the appropriate fee for a Club is calculated according to the type of music used. There is often confusion between the licenses of the PPL and PRS but, as a general rule, if a Club has music it must have both of these respective licenses.

Audits

Clubs registered under the Industrial & Provident Societies Act, the Friendly Societies Acts or
the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act must submit an Annual Return to the Financial Conduct Authority no later than the date required under the terms of the Club’s particular Rules. Failure to comply may result in prosecution. Such Clubs must also ensure the annual fee is paid, the amount of which depends upon the Club’s assets.

Clubs which are incorporated as companies must ensure that their company returns are made to
Companies House by the agreed submission date in order to avoid fines and must also ensure that their Accounts are filed. 

Unincorporated Members’ Clubs are not required to submit annual returns or to file Accounts with any outside body.

In addition to the above, please make a note of the date for VAT returns, insurance renewal and the Club’s TV licence.

Pension Auto Enrolment: Update Under legislation introduced in October 2012, all employers will soon be required to automatically enrol eligible staff into a workplace pension scheme and pay a minimum contribution into the pension fund. For the majority of our Clubs the requirement to implement these new pension requirements will fall between June 2015 and July 2017. Extensive pension guidance was previously included in the November Magazine. We are in the final stages of discussion with a pension provider and we hope to be able to recommend to all ACC Clubs a specific pension provider next month whom Clubs can use to manage their pension scheme.

EU Food Directives – Allergen Information Reminder

Since the 13th December 2014 any premises serving food now has to detail if the menu items contain any of the following items:
Eggs, molluscs, crustaceans, celery, milk, fish, treenuts, sulphites, soya, sesame, peanuts, mustard, lupin and gluten. If it is obvious from the name of the menu item (Gammon, Egg and Chips etc.) then the ingredient does not need to be specifically mentioned. Currently, this is an example of ways the above information can be provided:

How can allergen information be provided by food providers?
Allergen information can be provided to customers in any of the following ways:
On the menu under each item (contains gluten, milk, soya etc)

  • On a chalkboard next to each item (contains gluten, milk, soya etc)
  • Orally, although they need to hold allergen information in writing to back up any statements made
  • If they do not supply allergen information on the menu or chalkboard, they have to provide customers clear notices letting them know where the information can be found.

We suspect that many Clubs will opt for the final approach and produce a separate menu which lists the offending allergens which can be provided to Members and guests upon request. We are monitoring how food establishments adopt these regulations and provide this information to customers. We will provide further advice in a future edition of the magazine. 

Winter Weather – How Should the Club prepare?

Over recent years, increasingly extreme weather patterns and snowfall are causing disruptions and creating hazards that can lead to slips and falls. Clubs should endeavour to make the entrances and exits to the Club as safe as possible.
 

Gritting and Protecting Surfaces

Arrangements should be made to minimise risks from snow and ice, by gritting, snow clearing and the closure of some pathways, particularly outside stairs. It is wise to keep a good supply of grit handy to help clear them. Gritting is not an automatic way of ensuring you are blameless
but it is definitely recommended especially around important thoroughfares like car- parks, entrances and exits.

Temporary closures and footwear

If some pathways or entrances become too dangerous or troublesome to clear, place barriers and signs to close any footpaths that may propose a significant risk.

Also making sure all employees are wearing correct footwear is advisable to help protect against avoidable slips/falls. Alternatively if the Club’s clothing policy typically involves smarter shoes it could be worthwhile to allow boots or more hard-wearing footwear during winter.

Preparation as well as reaction 

Ignorance is not a defence against a claim so make sure steps are taken to reduce foreseeable risk whenever possible. Paying attention to weather forecasts can help you get a head start in preparing for upcoming hazardous conditions such as pre-emptively laying down grit or arranging appropriate signage to be placed on pathways. 

Records
 
It is important to document as much as possible such as retaining invoices and receipts for items
in order to show you have taken an active effort to combat the problems and potential dangers
caused by snow and ice. Keep a log to demonstrate when snow and ice have appeared and the action taken to reduce the risk posed. Remember that a claimant has three years from the date of the incident in which to pursue a claim so it is important that checklists and logs are retained for at least this period.

Any incidents which could give rise to a claim should be communicated to the Club’s insurers. You should arrange to take photos of the area where the accident took place to demonstrate conditions at the time, especially if you have made significant attempts to make the Club safer. If you have CCTV covering the area please ensure that any images are retained securely for three years. 

Written Warnings and Signage 

Arrange to have some written instructions and warning signage on hand to inform members of the public that there is a risk of falling/slipping and that reasonable care should be taken. Not providing these warning signs will leave the Club more open to a liability claim.

The ACC’s Recommended Insurance Brokers Club Insure assisted with this advice and can be contacted on 0844 488 9204.

Questions and Answers

If an Officer or Committee Member is in receipt of an honorarium, but is not an
employee, will they be affected by the forthcoming pension changes and have to be opted in to one of the new mandatory pensions?

A  For the purposes of the new pension regulations, persons in receipt of an honorarium will not be required to be enrolled into the system.

This is because persons receiving honorariums are not considered to be employees of the Club and the new regulations only apply to employees. There is sometimes confusion over this point because persons in receipt of honorariums are put through the PAYE system. The reason that persons who receive an honorarium are put through the PAYE system is simply because whilst the honorarium does not itself bestow employment rights or obligations the voluntary payment does attract taxation. An honorarium is, of course, a voluntary payment for a voluntary service which is not considered the same as employment and does not bestow employment
rights onto the recipient.

Q The Committee has received a request signed by 40 Members for a Special General Meeting to be held to discuss the future of the Club’s function room. Whilst we are happy to have a meeting with the Members over the future of this room, is a Special General
Meeting the proper forum for such a wide ranging discussion?

 A I can confirm that the request for the Special General Meeting (SGM) you have received
is not, in my opinion, appropriate. A SGM must be called in order to hold a specific yes/no vote. Whilst a discussion may precede the vote, the objective of the meeting must be clear and the precise wording of the motion must be known in advance.

The motion that you have received is not precise enough to constituent a legitimate SGM
request. In other words it does not guarantee a vote on any specific issue, instead it suggests that a general discussion may be held, possibly with a unknown vote to follow.

A notice calling a SGM must be precise in detailing what vote will take place and the wording
of the vote that will take place. If Club Members are not clear on the vote taking place at a SGM then they cannot make an informed decision whether they would like to attend a SGM. For instance, I am sure many Members would choose to attend a SGM if the vote concerned an important matter such as converting the Club’s function room into a snooker room or skittle alley. However, I am equally sure that significantly fewer Members would choose to attend a SGM concerning a vote on a less important matter such as painting the Club’s function room blue. This is why there has to be absolute clarity regarding the vote taking place at a SGM.

I suggest that the Committee refuse this request for a SGM and consider holding an informal meeting with Members regarding the use of the function room. This occasion will provide an opportunity for matters and opinions to be discussed, which may assist the Committee, without there being any vote taking place. If the Members wish to re submit their request for a SGM they must do so by specifying why the Meeting is to be held and the precise wording of the motion they wish the Club Members to vote on.

Q We have a Committee Member who has been absent for the previous threeCommittee Meetings although he has sent his apologies in for each Meeting. Under our Rules, it states that a Committee Member shall cease to be a Committee Member if they are absent for three Meetings and their written explanations are deemed unsatisfactory by the Committee. What constitutes a satisfactory written explanation?

A If a Committee Member is absent for three meetings and the Committee does not accept their written explanations for their absence then, under most Clubs’ Rules, they cease to be a Committee Member. It is for the Committee to determine at each meeting if their written explanation for absence is satisfactory or not. If their apologies are accepted by the Committee then this would indicate that their written explanation has deemed to be satisfactory. If a Committee Member has not been absent for three Meetings, or their written explanations for their absence have been accepted as satisfactory by the Committee then they continue to be Committee Members. The Committee does not have the power to remove a Committee Member unless the conditions of the Club’s Rules have been satisfied. I would suggest that if a Committee Member’s written explanation is not accepted that they are informed that their written explanation was not accepted.

Q We are in the process of recruiting a new Steward for the Club. Do you have any advice on the type of person we should be looking for and if we have to advertise this position
externally or could we, if we had a suitable candidate, simply appoint from within the Club?

A The Committee is free to advertise any vacancy as they see fit. Should the Committee already have a candidate in mind then there is no need to advertise the position at all, instead the Committee can directly approach a potential candidate. In some situations it is eminently sensible not to advertise a position if the Committee already have a preferred candidate in mind.
Any such decision on this matter should be taken by the entire Committee unless the Committee
has designated specific Committee Members or have created a sub-Committee to deal with the
recruitment of employees.

Clearly for the position of bar staff the best candidate is likely to be a well-rounded individual, possibly with experience in the hospitality sector, who is trust worthy, well presented, personable and who will give a good impression of the Club to Members and visitors to the Club. As with many jobs of this nature, it is often less to do with the candidates formal qualifications and experience and more to do with subjective factors such as the ones mentioned above. As long as the Committee acts in good faith regarding the recruitment process and does not appoint or determine the successful candidate on the basis of gender or race then the Committee should not have any problems regarding whom they ultimately decided to appoint. Having said that, having a clear job specification with notes taken at interviews and the decision process minuted will also be beneficial in the case of any complaint against the Committee’ selection

Q It would be very helpful for us and probably many other Clubs around the country
if the ACC could collect information regarding the rates of pay and terms under which
they employ their Steward/Stewardess.

The information would probably have to be divided to allow for regional differences but it would be extremely useful to know what other clubs are paying as we have no idea if what we are offering at present is fair. 

I do understand that it would be a good idea to calculate some form of standard rates of pay that would obviously be beyond the normal national minimum wage. The problem we have is that are so many constituent factors. The size of the Club, the number of Members, the responsibilities involved, the area of the UK and the length of service which can have a dramatic effect.

Apart from the obvious factors mentioned above, there are then additional points such as residential accommodation being provided, and whether or not a catering franchise might be involved.

You will see from my comments that whilst I agree with the concept of the idea, in practical terms, it is very difficult to produce a model list of averages. I normally recommend Clubs to contact a small number of local Clubs which are of a similar size, to ascertain a local average.
From this you will see whether you are heading in the right direction with your own package, bearing in mind, of course, the factors I have mentioned above.

Q A Member has asked whether the new style electric cigarettes are legal to
be used in the Club. Apparently they have a small cartridge inserted which gives the impression of smoking and are actually been retailed as an aid to give up cigarettes. I am assured there is no nicotine or toxins included in the device. 

A I would strongly suggest that the Committee do not allow such a device to be used. I am not entering into an argument that the device is not a cigarette and is therefore not illegal, my advice is based purely on the fact that the device looks exactly like a cigarette and therefore will either give the wrong impression about the Club and may give rise to complaints being made, or it may indicate to other members or guests that the Club permits smoking and that as a result they light up a real cigarette which could create serious problems for the Club. 

Q We have a number of employees who regularly take smoking breaks throughout
their shift leaving the bar unmanned in some instances. Are they legally allowed to take
frequent smoking breaks?

A There is no additional legislation for smokers. Smokers, like all employees, are entitled to minimum breaks of twenty minutes every six hours. Under the Working Time Regulations, all employees aged 18 or over, should be offered a minimum 20-minute break for every shift lasting more than six hours. Breaks for smokers are at the employers’ discretion, legally there is no need to offer a smoker any more than one 20 minute break for every six hours of work. Breaks should not be taken at the beginning or end of a six hour shift.