Whether you are a charity or a business; whether you are a sole trader, limited company, CIO or CIC, getting your HR wrong can cost you big time both in terms of money and reputation. I saw an article today sent to me by Kathryn Rogers of which with her permission I reproduce in full as it is a typical example where something so simple can have such a disproportionate effect.

"The issue

Our client had an employee who hadn’t performed well during his three-month probationary period, and the client had been very back-and-forth about whether to extend the probationary period or to terminate and cut their losses.

When the time came, due to the manager being busy and the employee having a period off sick, the end of probation meeting did not actually take place until three weeks after the three-month anniversary of the individual’s starting date.

The manager terminated the individual’s employment however the issue was that the amount of notice required was only one week during probation, increasing to one month after probation had been completed. The employee insisted they were entitled to one month’s notice.

Whether you are a business or a charity but you use someone through a Personal Services Company (PSC) the rules are changing and could affect you. The legislation known as IR35 came into force in 1999 to try and combat tax avoidance for people who would have previously been taxed as employees. In particular, the avoidance of Employers' NIC contributions where a key component of such schemes. From the government's point of view the legislation has been less than effective so from April 2020 onwards, new rules apply which will put the onus squarely on your business or charity to operate PAYE and NIC on payments made to PSC's where you pay them directly. Not all contractors who use PSC's and who you use will be people who you should pay under the PAYE regime but the onus is very firmly on you to ensure that these people are not quasi employees and that means looking at ALL such relationships NOW to ensure you are doing things the right way. Make sure you are clear as to how you work together and have robust contracts which demonstrate mutuality of obligation and that control over the contractor does not exist. If in doubt get your contracts reviewed.

A robust and rigid credit control policy in place is essential to successful recoveries. Start by setting it out in bullet point formation a single sheet of paper.

Failings in this area are generally more commonplace in smaller companies where the focus on the owner is on the day to day running of the business. Having a credit risk strategy and chasing monies is all too often replaced by a “we chase money only when we need it in” or “when I have time to chase” attitude. Sometimes a business is reluctant to chase a customer, concerned it may jeopardise their good relationship.

At the other end of the spectrum there is specialist software or debt collection agencies with their online automated credit control system and process; helping to instil good payment habits in customers and thereby significantly reducing the amount of time needed to chase.

It’s worth remembering that credit is not a right of your customer- it is very much a privilege that you have offered them. To abuse it beyond terms puts them in the wrong, not you. If a customer wishes to avoid being unhappy at the tone of a chase letter or phone call received for an overdue account they should pay on time.

Once again my thanks to Ken Brown of Account Assyst for this Blog

Having facilitated a number of meetings over the years I was interested last weekend to being on the receiving end. As a trustee of the Dyspraxia Foundation we had a weekend away to discuss the future strategy of the charity, it's mission, its values and what we saw as the direction of travel for the next 5 years. In my former role as a partner in a national firm of accountants, I was quite used to having an external facilitator and it was interesting to compare and contrast such facilitators against my own work in this area. This weekend was possibly the best facilitated event I have ever attended. This was largely because all of the 3 people, (one external and two internal) made every effort to ensure that no one person dominated each session with their views (and believe me there were a number of loud voices to contain including yours truly!). Likewise that everyone had the chance to input.

I never stop learning which is why, no matter what networking event I attend I always manage to learn something. Whether it is talking to another business or listening to a guest speaker there is always some little tip or another which I like to either use myself or to pass on. For example for marketing people they use the acronym TLA which apparently stands for a Three Letter an Acronym for an Acronym; who knew! However, I was listening to a presentation last night by a guy called Owen Conti who is the managing director of Code 56, a Derby based IT company and he used an Acronym called EEE