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Questions & Answers

I have picked a few recent questions from our postbag which, I feel, have a wider interest than just for the Club facing the problem.


Can you advise me what the legal position is in respect of smoking breaks? Most, but not all, of our staff smoke. Are there any minimum rest breaks?

The actual Working Time Regulations state a 20 minute rest break for every six hour shift, as a minimum. This is why many high street retailers employ casual part-time staff on 5 - 5.5 hour shifts, so that they do not need to give a rest break.

I am advising Clubs to ask their staff to manage smoking breaks amongst themselves. In other words, ask the staff to take on the responsibility for ensuring that the bar is never left unattended and that smoking breaks are not abused. I think you will be rather surprised as most staff will appreciate the fact that they will be allowed to take sensible breaks and have been left to deal with the matter themselves. You should say, however, that if the staff are unable to manage this matter and that the good running of the Club is affected, then the Committee will run it and may well stop all smoking breaks.


Each year our Club holds one or two events, the admission to which have, in recent years, been by 'ticket only'. We have some Members who question this, and say that they must be allowed to enter the Club, even if they do not wish to buy a ticket. We would appreciate your clarification of this matter.

I confirm that it is in order for an event to be promoted at the Club, the admission to which is by ticket only. A Member of a Club does not have an automatic legal right of entry to his, or her, Club. Consequently, if a ticket only event is organised and promoted then members who do not wish to purchase a ticket may not enter a Club at such an occasion. Obviously, ticket events are very far and few between and in most Clubs only take place on New Year's Eve. By selling tickets for such an event the Committee will at least be able to manage the number of staff required and levels of entertainment and refreshments required etc. which otherwise they may not be able to do on what can be either a very busy or a very quiet night.


The wife of the Club's Steward is a member of the Club and she has recently been nominated to serve on the Club's Committee. Many Members are concerned about this. We would appreciate your advice on this matter.

I note that the wife of the Club Steward is a member and has been nominated to serve on the Committee of the Club.

I confirm there is nothing which you can do to prevent this and, indeed, it would not be possible to have amended the Club's Rules in order to prevent a relation of an employee who is a member from being nominated from election to the Committee. Members enjoy certain rights and privileges under the Licensing Act and are viewed in their own individual position within a Club. We could not have drafted a rule which would have excluded this member from being nominated from election to office. However, if the Steward's wife is successful in being elected, then by reference to her 'vested interest' she will not be entitled to participate in voting or discussions relating to any matter in respect of any employee. Such exclusion is normal management procedure and does not need to be reflected within a Club's Rules.


Now that the Smoking Ban is in place in Clubs my Committee wish to know who has the power to enter our Club, to see whether the Ban is being complied with?

My understanding is that the Local Authority Officers (LAO) who are also referred to as Compliance Officers who already have the right to enter a Private Members' Club to check that the Club Premises Certificate (CPC) is in order, have similar rights to check whether the Smoking Ban is being properly complied with


New Members help to keep a Club strong

In February 2006, in the occasional series of articles,"Your Questions Answered", I replied to a query from a Club about recruiting new members. This is clearly a topic which still concerns many Committees because it is one of the questions that I am asked regularly.

I think it would be helpful, therefore, if I repeated the question posed and the answer that I gave.

The Club's query was: "We are a small Club with only 160 members. Although not immediately worried about our financial position we do worry about the position in three or four years' time.

"The Committee have asked that I write to see if you can give us any guidance on a membership recruitment campaign."

My reply:

You are quite right to consider membership recruitment since this is a matter which should be discussed regularly by committees. In short without a continuous programme of membership recruitment a club will eventually weaken.

I have found that club committees will often place the onus of responsibility for recruiting new members on themselves, rather than correctly placing it on the membership.

It is the members who must propose and second new members, not just the Committee.

It does seem that people are often encouraged to become involved in membership recruitment if there is some form of reward involved.

One of the most successful recruitment schemes is known as the "Bounty System" where by a member who introduces a new member receives some form of payment, usually by way of a bar voucher for the introduction.

For example, if a Club's membership subscription is £10, the payment of a £10 bar voucher to the introductory member (which will actually only cost the Club the value of the drink, rather than the whole £10) has, in many cases, created a great deal of interest.

A further method which has often proved to be successful is the announcement that the Club intends to close the membership book. You will be surprised how many people will suddenly wish to become members of a club if they think the club will be difficult to join. I suspect that human nature dictates that most of us wish to belong to something which has an element of exclusivity.

My experience has also shown that many clubs will recruit new members and will lose them at the following year's renewal time.

I believe one of the reasons for this is that new members are not always made as welcome as they should be.

All clubs, by their very nature, tend to have established groups and sections and these can seem daunting to a new person using the club for the first time.

If two, or perhaps four, new members' evenings can be organised during the course of the year, at which all members who have joined during the period, are invited, these social occasions can help to break the ice and forge friendships with existing

Certainly, every member of the club should be encouraged to introduce at least one new member during the year. If that goal could be achieved then concerns over membership would, I think, be diminished