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Club Law and Management

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

Questions and Answers

Q. We have a member of the Club who is standing as an Independent Councillor at the next election and has been told that if he does so he could be asked to leave the Club but he is adamant that we are wrong.
Could you clarify the issue for us?

A. Any member who stands
against a Conservative candidate for another political Party or who is standing as an independent with no party allegiance should be suspended or expelled from membership of a Conservative Club. Standing against a Conservative Candidate or standing as a independent
candidate, even if there is no
Conservative candidate, is not
compatible with membership of a Club with Conservative objects.
The primary requirement of
membership of a Conservative
Club is that a person is a
Conservative supporter. A
Committee would be right to
suspend or expel any member
found to be bringing their Club
into disrepute by standing for
election as anything other than an offcial Conservative Party
candidate.
ACC Model Rules, adopted by ACC Clubs, indicate the following:
‘The Committee shall have the power to suspend or expel from membership of the Club any member who is adjudged guilty by the Committee of any infringement of the Rules or Bye- Laws or whose conduct in or out of the Club is, in the option of the Committee, prejudcial or to the interests of the Club'.
 

Q. A guest attended our Club today and when asked to sign our guest book refused to complete anymore information than their initial and surname claiming it was illegal under the Data Protection Act to ask for information such as an address. We have always asked for full names and addresses (we accept a simple road name and area entry). We have found this the best way to monitor guest movement and ensure no one is breaking the rules and signing in the same guest too many times per month. Are we at fault and if so, how do other clubs monitor guest activity?

A. The Club is perfectly entitled to request a guest to complete information such as name and address within a guest book. I note that you, in fact, do not require a full address which, again, is perfectly acceptable. The suggestion that to request this information is in breach of the Data Protection Act is nonsense.

If the person in question is introduced to the Club again and refuses to complete the appropriate signing in book, then I suggest that they are not admitted.
The Committee reserves the right to refuse the admission of any guest without having to give a reason. In anticipation of the likely response you will receive, I can also confirm that such refusal of admission does not affect 'Human Rights'.

 

Q. We would like to hold an open day for the Club and charge guests £1 to enter.
Our Licensing Officer has suggested that we would need to obtain a Temporary Events Notice to do so. Could we just admit these guests as temporary members?

A. If the Club would like to hold an open day for prospective members to visit and enjoy the facilities of the Club then a Temporary Events Notice (TEN) should be applied for with your Local Authority. I agree with your Licensing Officer. Under a TEN the Club may admit visitors for up to 72 hours, and could charge a door fee if the Committee considered this was appropriate.

The Club cannot admit visitors on other occasions unless they are bona fide guests of members. The Club cannot sell 'temporary memberships' for £1 per day since this is prohibited under the Licensing Act. The Licensing Act states that there must be a delay of a least 48 hours between application for membership and being admitted and receiving the privileges of membership.

The Committee can, however, charge bona fide guests of the Club for entry to the Club if it is deemed to be appropriate.

 

Q. We feel that the existing application form is putting off potential members from joining, specifically the declaration of being a Conservative supporter. Would it be acceptable for the Club to alter the application form for new members?

A. I cannot understand the logic behind altering the application form for membership as you have suggested. The Club is a ‘Conservative’ Club. The Rules clearly state the qualincations required for being a successful candidate and the objects of the Club. The Club has received a Club Premises Certificate from the Local Authority on the grounds that it is managed in accordance with its rules. How is the Club to prove the bona fide status of members without any type of declaration. I would advise the Committee to consider if there are any actual, specific examples of candidates who the Club would have wanted to be members who were unwilling to join on the grounds of the existing application form, bearing in mind they already
know the name of the Club.

 

Q. I've read that there had been a change regarding the statutory dispute procedure with regards to employees. Can you confirm this?

A. There was indeed a change
regarding the statutory legislation which governed Dispute Resolution Procedures. Prior to the 6th April 2009 this procedure was governed by a statutory 3 step grievance procedure which is outlined in our model contracts. On the 6th April 2009 several employment law changes came into effect, notably the procedure governing disputes between employers and employees.
Now it will not automatically be
an unfair dismissal if an employer
dismisses an employee without
following a previous procedure.
The procedure used will be taken
into account but will not be an
overriding concern. The situation
is now that employers will be
judged on a reasonableness test, was the action they took reasonable in the circumstances?
To define reasonableness ACAS
has described the following steps
as being within their definition of
a reasonable way to deal with an
employee facing a disciplinary
matter.
The key aspects to a reasonable
disciplinary procedure under the
new Code are to:
1. Establish the facts of each case - this should be done without unreasonable delay.
2. Inform the employee of the problem - in writing, with sufficient information about the misconduct or poor performance and the possible consequences.
3. Hold a meeting with the employee to discuss the problem
- this should be held without unreasonable delay,  but should give the employee enough time to prepare their case.
4. Allow the employee to be accompanied at the meeting - this is a statutory right.
5. Decide on appropriate action - if misconduct or poor performance is confirmed then the employee should be given a written warning, told how long the warnig will last and the consequences of further misconduct or poor performance.
6. Provide employees with an opportunity to appeal - these should be heard without unreasonable delay and dealt with impartially: The employee has a statutory right to be informed in writing of the results of the appeal.

As you can see, this six part test which is recommended by ACAS is in actuality remarkably similar to the similar 3 point procedure which employers previously had to follow and is still used within our Employment contracts. The previous legislation, which our contracts are based on, made it clear that an employee had to be notified in writing, invited to a meeting and given a chance to appeal. ACAS has kept that procedure almost word for word and we recommend that all Clubs continue to follow it.

 

Q. Can you confirm if all employees are entitled to the new 28 days of holiday and how would we calculate it for irregular employees.

A. Under the Working Time Regulations 1998  casual employees do qualify for holiday pay.
What leave do casual workers get? If a member of staff works on a casual basis or very irregular hours, it is often easiest to calculate holiday entitlement that accrues as hours are worked.
The holiday entitlement of 5.6 weeks is equivalent to 12 per cent of hours worked over a year.

The 12 per cent figure is 5.6 weeks' holiday, divided by 46.4 weeks (being 52 weeks - 5.6 weeks). The 5.6 weeks are excluded from the calculation as the worker would not be at work during those 5.6 weeks in order to accrue annual leave.

So if someone works 10 hours, they are entitled to 72.63 minutes paid holiday (12.07 / 100 x 10 = 1.21 hours = 72.63 minutes).

 

Q. At a special meeting of the Committee, a decision was taken to start disciplinary proceedings against a Committee Member. Is the disciplinary procedure the same for a Committee Member as it would be for an ordinary member?

A. The disciplinary procedure is the same regardless of whether the member is on the Committee or not. You should summon the member to a Committee meeting and ask them to explain their actions, in accordance with the procedures set out in the Club's Rules. If the explanation is unsatisfactory then the Committee can elect to suspend or expel the member will automatically be removed from the Committee and will not resume this elected position following the end of the suspension period.

If, due to suspension or expulsion, the member is removed from the Committee then the Committee can use the casual vacancies Rule to appoint another member to fill the position for the remainder of the tenure of office.

 

Q. We have been asked by a member if we are able to provide credit to members over the bar. The Committee is unsure whether this is legal under the new Licensing Act? We were under the impression that this was banned under the old Act.

A. You are correct that this practice was outlawed in previous Acts and that no credit was able to be supplied to members. However there is no mention of the provision in the new Act so technically you would be able to offer bar credit to members. However it is best practice not to do so as the remedies if a member fails to pay his debt are limited. I suggest that Clubs do not want to be in the business of going to Court to recover outstanding debts against their own members, It also opens up the possibility of abuse by bar staff or disagreements with members when it comes to paying their bar bill.

 

THE POSTAL STRIKES

Recent strikes by Post Office workers have caused very serious problems for many organisations - including the ACC.

If the disruption continues Clubs are asked to contact us by telephone, fax or email.

We know that members understand that any gaps and delays in our service, caused by the Post Office's failure, are beyond our control.