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Club Law and Management

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

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.

A. 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 there 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. Our Treasurer is standing down at the next AGM and another committee member has put their name forward for election. The Chairman is under the impression that the ex-Treasurer can remain on the committee by filling the vacancy left by the member taking up the Treasurer's role. I think the ex-Treasurer should stand for election along with others seeking election or re-election.

A. We must consider the Clubs Rules for the situation descibed. The Rules state that any member elected for two offices shall choose which one to fill with the resulting vacancy being filled by the unsuccessful candidate with the highest number of votes.
Therefore we agree that the ex-Treasurer should apply for a Committee position if he wishes to remain on the Committee.


Q. We have some teams playing from the Club such as dart and skittles teams, most of whom are members, but some not. We also occaionally hire the room out for private functions. Is the Club able to charge different bar tariffs for members and non-members? We did look at charging an entry fee for the occasional non-members, but this is extremely difficult to police and we feel would contravene our licence.

A. I confirm that it is possible for Clubs to have different price lists in different bars when, for example, a room is on private hire.
This is not unusual and I have found that most Clubs will, on average, charge an additional 10% across the board on drinks served from a bar when a private hire is in place. This is only possible, of course, in Clubs where the bars in such rooms are entirely separate otherwise it is impractical to achieve.


Q. I wonder whether you can give me any advice on the tax treatment of our proposed 12 week payment of salary in lieu of notice, I have read through the Inland Revenue guidelines on the subject but I am still somewhat confused. Should the payment in lieu of notice attract the usual PAYE tax?

A. The position is that it is highly likely that payment in lieu of notice will not be taxable. This is down to a 1999 Court of Appeal case which decided that tax was only applicable if, within the employment contract, there was a set figure for early termination of contract. Since that ruling it is comparatively rare that any employment contract now contains financial remuneration information for early termination for that very reason and I doubt that the 1992 ACC contract of employment would include this informaiton either.
If there is no remuneration detailed within the contract then the Court found that since the employer was not contractually obligated to pay remuneration that if the employee was dismissed or made redundant and was not allowed their due notice period then the employer and employee caught stealing from the Club will face instance dismissal for gross misconduct.


Q. We have heard about the new Fit to Work notes which have been introduced but are not sure how these relate to our Club. Have you come across these notes?

A. New Fit Notes came into use from 6 April 2010 replacing the existing "sick note" and focusing on what can be done to assist an employee's return to work.
An early proposal to give GPs the option to certify an employee as "fit for work" was rejected in favour of the more ambivalent "you may be fit for work". If this option is used, the doctor can then suggest adjustments to the work or workplace which would enable the employee to go back to work. Focusing on what the employee is able to do should help to facilitate the employee's return to work. If however, the employer is unable to accommodate the adjustments proposed by the doctor, the employee will be considered not fit for work.
The introduction of Fit Notes should assist Clubs to manage long-term sickness absence by encouraging employees and employers to evaluate whether there are any aspects of the employment that the employee can undertake, notwithstanding the sickness reason. Fit Notes are currently unproven but could be helpful in allowing employees to come back from sick leave earlier than they might have done under the old system.


Q. We have recently carried out a stock check and have found that we are missing differing amounts of sprits and beer. Having previously had no problems with stock it it unlikely this can be down to accidental wastage. One of the Committee members feels that we should dismiss out bar employees, is this an overreaction?

A. You are correct that dismissing all your employees for these unexplained stock losses would be an overreaction and would place the Club at risj of unfair dismissal claims.
You may wish to review the Steward's contracts; in the ACC Model Contracts the Stewards are personally responsible for stock losses, if this in the case for the  Club's contracts then you may find that if the Stewards are reminded of this then they will take a more proactive approach to stemming the losses. This will give them due warning of the fact and hopefully encourage them to make sure no further losses occur.
It is unlikely that you would have any recourse to claim this amount from any employees other than the Stewards. You may also wish to consider that if it is just a blip, and stock mistakes do happen, that you are risking an otherwise productive working relationship with the Stewards by pursuing them for the losses.
It would also be completely in order to send a general letter to all employees stating that these losses are unacceptable, that the Committee are investigating the losses. Any employee caught stealing from the Club will face instance dismissal for gross misconduct.


Q. Can our Conservative Club operate with a General Committee of six elected members? I have only six nominations for 12 vacant positions on the General Committee. I also have one nominee who has received one proposer but no seconder on the nomination list. Is he allowed or disallowed?

A. There is no reason why your Club cannot operate with a Committee of six elected Members, plus the Officers of the Club. It would constitute a Rule change which would have to be approved by the Members at a Special General Meeting. You would also need to look at your quorum requirements for the Committee and reduce the number so low that the Committee ceases to be representative of the members.
To stand for any elected position, a Member must have received a nomination from both a proposer and a seconder. Without a seconder then the nominee cannot stand for election.


Q. In recent years turnout for voting has been quite poor, is there a minimum amount of votes needed to count as a fair election.
We are trying to establish a more economic way of carrying out such tasks, including postal votes or voting on the evening of the AGM. Are any of these idead feasible?

A. There is no problem with holding the vote for Committee positions and for Officers by either a postal vote or at the AGM itself. However, you will need a Rule change to allow either of these alternatives. Most Clubs' Rules are quite clear in that the elections should be held the week prior to the AGM, or at the AGM itself, However, you will need a Rule change to allow either of these alternatives. Most Clubs' Rules are quite clear in that the elections should be held the week prior to the AGM, or at the AGM itself, and should be by ballot. It is these Rules which would need to be modified to allow alternative voting methods.
There is no minimum number of votes which are needed to count as a fair election. Currently you have a period of seven days where votes can be taken prior to the AGM or at the meeting itself; we would hope that during this period a sufficient number of members will visit the Club and vote in order for the election result to be considered fair and just.