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Club Law and Management

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

Questions and Answers

 

Q. We have been informed by a Member that we are required to offer wine in measurements of 125ml in addition to the 175ml and 250ml measures already offered? Is this the case?

A. In October 2010 a new
mandatory code for selling alcohol came in to force and as part of this was the requirement that wine must be offered to customers in 125ml measurements. In practice, this means:

• All wine lists must state that
125ml measures are available

• This must not be hidden in the small print but made very clear - font size should match that used for larger measures

However, it is not necessary to
show prices for 125ml measures
and a simple one line explanation
such as this will suffice: “We also
serve wine in 125ml measures.
Please ask at for more details.”

 
Q. Can you let us know
what the statutory holiday
allowance for employees should be and whether bank holidays should be taken as part of the allowance or on top?

A. All employees, whether fulltime
or part-time, are legally entitled to 5.6 weeks’ paid annual leave. Additional annual leave may be agreed as part of a contract.
A week’s leave should allow
employees to be away from work
for a week i.e. it should be the same amount of time as the working week. If an employee works a five-day week, they are entitled to twenty-eight days leave per annum.
If an employee works a three-day
week, the entitlement is 16.8 days
leave per annum.
Employers can set the times
that employees take their leave,
for example for a Christmas
shutdown. If an employment ends,
the employee has a right to be paid for the leave time due and not
taken.
There is no statutory entitlement
to paid leave for public holidays.
Any right to paid time off for such
holidays depends on the terms of
the contract. If the contract does
not specify this, the right to paid
leave may have built up through
custom and practice. Paid public
holidays can be counted as part of
the statutory 5.6 weeks’ holiday
entitlement under the Working
Time Regulations 1998.
There are normally eight Public
Holidays per year, although this
year there is a ninth coinciding
with the Royal Wedding.

 
Q. We have the following
Bye-Law which derives
from the Model Rules :
“5. No member shall give
any money or gratuity to the
employees of the Club, upon
any pretence whatever.”
A Committee member has
commented that it is the norm
for employees to be offered tips of 20p therefore the Bye-Law should be deleted. Is there a particular reason for this Bye-Law being in the ACC’s Model Rules?

A. Historically such a Rule
would have been in place to
prevent a wealthy member of a Club from leaving a large gratuity
for employees and thus receiving
favourable treatment over other
‘equal’ Members in the future. The
whole premise of Private Members’ Clubs is that all Members are equal.
However, we accept that in the
current day and age such a Rule
might not strictly be necessary.
Whilst the Committee are free to
remove the Rule if they see fit, they may choose simply to modify it to place a limit on 20p or 50p on
any tips that can be given, thus
respecting the original reason for
the Rule being in place. Please
note all gratuities are subject to
PAYE and should be declared on
an employee’s P11D.

Q. I currently hold the position of Secretary my husband is considering standing for the role of Chairman. Is it acceptable for a husband and wife to hold two of the positions on the same Committee?

A. Should your husband be
elected to the position of Chairman than there would be no
reason under the Rules to prevent
you continuing in your role as the
Secretary of the Club.
The Rules regard Members
as individuals in their own right.
Members are able to be nominated for office and it is not uncommon for Members of the same family group to serve on a Committee together.
Ultimately the Members decide
who is on the Committee and the
Rules rely on their good judgement
in electing the best candidate for
the job.

 
Q. Can you elaborate on the
changes to the pensions
schemes that employers will
have to provide to employees
from 2012? Specifically
the dates when this will be
phased in, the costs involved
and if there is an ACC
Recommended Supplier who
deals with pensions plans?

A. We recommend that Clubs
deal with our preferred supplier, DBL Asset Management, when providing employee pensions. Their details are on our website and also included within the magazine.
Whilst the changes are coming
into effect from 2012 for large
businesses, it is unlikely that small
businesses will be affected until
2013/2014 as the changes are being phased in gradually. However, no definite time line has yet been published.
The enrolment process will
be simple and an employee may
choose to opt out of the pension,
if they wish. The Club will make
a minimum contribution to the
scheme. To help employers and
employees adjust gradually, the
plan is to phase in the minimum
contribution levels. As with the
aforementioned timeline, specific
details over the phasing in of
minimum contribution levels and
what these levels will be have not
been announced yet.
We will continue to update the magazine as new details are
announced.

 
Q. I have been asked to write
to a member and ask him
to attend the next Committee
Meeting concerning his conduct in the Club. The Committee have asked me to include in the letter that he will be suspended until he has appeared before the Committee. I would be grateful
if you could advise me whether
this is correct.

A. No Member can be suspended
or expelled from the Club
without a disciplinary meeting
having taken place. I confirm that
it is in order for you to request the
member in question to “withdraw
from the facilities of membership”
until such time as he appears before the Committee. It is very important not to use the word “suspend” in this notice since suspension can only take place following the disciplinary hearing as one of the options which may be available in the event of the Committee deciding the complaint regarding his conduct warrants either a reprimand, suspension (for a fixed period) or expulsion. The correct term is “withdraw”.

 
Q. We wish to remove the Sky
TV in the Club as it is too
expensive. However, we have
a vocal minority of Members
who are intent on keeping the
Sky TV service. Could they call an SGM to reverse a Committee decision?

A. Whilst the Rules do allow a
Special General Meeting to
be called by the Members, it is fair
to say that typically matters such
as the provision of Sky Television
are left to the purview of the
Committee. It is understandably
difficult to run a Club if such
decisions are constantly being
debated among the Members with
a view to holding an SGM every
time a decision without universal
approval is taken. Clubs which
engage in this sort of activity
ultimately find it difficult to find
Members who are willing to stand
for the Committee. Committees
are elected to manage the Club’s
affairs and should be left to get on
with that task.
If there is a section of the
Membership who are unhappy
with the direction that the
Committee is taking the Club then
we would recommend that such
Members stand for election onto
the Committee at the next available opportunity. This is ultimately the most effective way for Members to influence the running of the Club.
To coin an old phrase “put up or
shut up”.

Q. We have employees who
wish to use the Club’s
facilities but under our Rules
employees cannot also be
Members of the Club. How can
we allow our employees to use
the Club?

A. We would suggest that
employees of the Club who
wish to regularly use the Club
join a local Conservative Club and
obtain an IA Card. This will allow
them access to the Club.
We do not advise that employees
of a Club become members as they then have the right to be elected onto the Committee and, in effect, become their own employer.
Obviously such an event would
prove to be a considerable
conflict of interest and would
limit the Committee’s ability to
deal effectively with employment
issues.

 

Q. If we wanted to charge
a nominal fee to guests
of members to enter the Club,
would we be able to do so?

A. We can confirm that it is
perfectly accepted for the
Committee to impose a charge on
the entrance of Member’s guests.
However, such a charge would be
subject to VAT. Alternatively the
Committee could simply ask for
a voluntary donation from guests.
This would be free of VAT.
The Committee will also want
to avoid any action which will
be detrimental to the Club’s long
term interest. Assuming that the
majority of Member’s guests
come in and purchase drinks; will
significant revenue be raised by
the nominal fee to offset the loss
of drink sales from Members who
have decided to take their guests
elsewhere? Ultimately though,
such a decision is at the discretion
of the Committee.

 

Q. The Committee wishes
to insert the following
paragraph into the welcome
letter to new Members. Is the
following wording permissible?
“It is my pleasure to inform you that the Officers and Committee have approved your application to the above Club initially for a period of 3 months and if all is well at the end of this period, full membership will be
automatically awarded. “

A. This is not only incompatible
with the Rules of the Club, but
also under the terms that the Club
was awarded its Club Premises
Certificate under the Licensing Act
2003. There is no such thing as
trial Membership. You are either a
Member or you are not a Member.
If a Member is to be expelled
from the Club then the standard
disciplinary procedure will have
to be followed regardless of how
long they have been a Member of
the Club.

 
Q. We have always had
a “Joint” Subscription
category which is slightly
cheaper than two Single
memberships. Although
originally intended for married
Members, we did extend this
to male and female partners
some years ago. A gay couple
on renewing their memberships
have now applied for a Joint
Subscription. Are we legally
obliged to accept it them as
Joint Members?

A. We would strongly advise
the Committee to accept an
application for joint membership
from a gay couple.
The Equalities Act clearly states
that discrimination based purely
on gender is not acceptable and so it would be wrong for the Club to discriminate on who can apply for a joint membership purely because of the applicants genders. Since this membership has already been extended to non-married couples there is no reason why a gay couple would not be able to apply for joint membership.

 

Wales AGM at CWM

The Wales Conservative Clubs’ Council held its Annual General Meeting at the Cwm Conservative Club, Gwent.

Clubs were delighted to welcome Jonathan Evans, M.P., who is President of the Wales Clubs’ Council and, also, Chairman of the Association of Conservative Clubs.

Mr Evans addressed the meeting on a range of political and Club topics and ACC Secretary Philip Smith brought representatives up to date on a number of legal and management issues.

Guest Speaker was Nick Ramsay, Shadow Minister for Health in the Welsh Assembly who listed the shortcomings of the Labour/ Plaid coalition in governing the principality.

He told the meeting that it was only the Wales Conservatives who were committed to protect the health budget in Wales.

Officers re-elected were: Chairman, Davis Thomas; Deputy Chairman, Tony Arnold; Treasurer, Pru Jones and Secretary Lyndon Jones.

Our picture shows representatives, guests and speakers at the Wales Clubs’ Council’s AGM.

Gaming Machines VAT Refund Linneweber Claims ACC Survey

Clubs will be aware that there has been a long standing case in which the ACC has been actively involved. The first notice and advice to Clubs dates back to an article in the August 2006 edition of the Conservatives Clubs magazine, when I first advised Clubs that they should submit a claim for an overpayment of VAT in relation to Gaming Machines.

Clubs were able to claim VAT paid on the net take from Gaming Machines for the three years up to December 2005.

Many Clubs have now received payment from HMRC relating to these claims and having received claims, most Clubs have submitted a request for official interest.

The ACC would like to calculate a total figure of the amount of money which our Clubs have managed to reclaim.

To assist us with this survey I would be grateful if Club Secretaries or Treasurers could let me have a simple note detailing the amount of money that has been received and the official interest that may have been paid under a separate claim.

You can contact the ACC by email: thesecretary@toryclubs.co.uk, by fax 0207 222 1622 or by post ACC Ltd, 24 Old Queen Street, London, SW1H 9HP.

St Marychurch and babbacombe

St. Marychurch and Babbacombe Conservative Club, Torquay, Devon, marked their annual charity fundraising with a special presentation evening.

During the year the members of the Club had raised £1,100 to help the work of SENSE, a charity supporting youngsters who are both blind and deaf.

There are a number of children, helped by the charity, in the Club’s area.

In our picture, on the left, is Club President, Derek Kirby with Chairman, Harry Drake in the centre.

On the right is Lorna Mackie, from the charity, accepting the cheque on its behalf.

There was a maximum attendance by members who enjoyed a buffet and musical entertainment.