Red Tape Challenge - Archive
Below is a history of the some of the red tape challenge articles that have been published.
New Family Friendly Legislation (update April 2014)
The next 12 months are going to bring about the introduction of a raft of new family friendly rights. Here is a brief overview of the changes that will affect your business:
Extending Flexible Working Rights
On 30th June 2014, the right to request flexible working is being extended to include all employees with over 26 weeks’ service. The current statutory procedure for dealing with flexible working requests will be replaced with a simpler duty just to deal with such requests in a reasonable manner. Your flexible working policy should be updated to reflect this extended right. In reality, this change is not expected to have a major effect on businesses given that the business reasons that can be relied on to reject a request will remain unchanged.
Absence for Antenatal Appointments
From 1st October 2014, the partners of fathers and mothers will be entitled to unpaid time off to attend up to two antenatal appointments. Time off for each appointment will be capped at 6.5 hours
Shared Parental Leave
5th April 2015 will see an overhaul of leave rights for new parents with the introduction of shared parental leave. This will enable mothers, fathers, adopters and intended parents in a surrogacy arrangement to share parental leave of up to 52 weeks with 39 of these weeks being paid at a statutory rate.
Mothers of those born on or after 5th April 2015 (i.e. mums-to-be from July onwards) will be able to choose to give up some of their statutory maternity rights (leave and pay) to utilise the new shared parental leave scheme. This allows parents to take time off within the first 52 weeks after the child’s birth either separately or at the same time in blocks of at least one week.
Despite these appearing to be useful changes for new parents, it is unclear whether or not there will be much uptake of this aa very little use has been made of the additional paternity leave scheme that has been available to fathers of children born since April 2011. The positive from the new scheme is that if employees do utilise this right, they will ultimately be out of the workplace for a much reduced period of time.
Extended Adoption Rights
Adoption pay and leave entitlements will be extended from 5th April 2015 to bring them in line with the current rights of birth parents. Adopters will also become entitled to take time off to attend appointments for the purpose of meeting the child or any other reason connected with the adoption. Intended parents in surrogacy and ‘foster to adopt’ arrangements will also qualify for adoption leave and pay.
Notice of Change in Rates
From 6th April 2014, the following rates will be increasing:
- Statutory maternity pay, maternity allowance, statutory paternity pay and statutory adoption pay will rise from £136.78 to £138.18 each week.
- Statutory sick pay will rise from £86.70 to £87.55 each week.
A number of members have asked for advice on the increased use of electronic cigarettes in the workplace.
E-cigarettes are battery operated devices which replicate smoking without the need for tobacco. They turn nicotine and chemical flavouring into vapour which is inhaled by the user. Due to the absence of tobacco, electronic cigarettes are not covered by the Health Act 2006 and are therefore not prohibited by the smoking ban.
The British Medical Association has raised concerns on the safety of e-cigarettes, given that they contain nicotine and chemicals; employees may also have concerns about their safety.
Whilst there is no legal ban on e-cigarettes for employers to rely upon, they are permitted to create their own rules and policies in relation to their use.
The ideal is to find a happy medium between smokers, non-smokers and those who are trying to quit smoking. Employers should also be wary that permitting e-cigarettes could upset pregnant employees or those with concerns about the safety of them and give rise to complaints from colleagues and customers alike.
The best approach to take in relation to e-cigarettes is to make a decision, either way, on whether you permit them in the workplace and advise your employees as soon as possible. If you implement a ban on e-cigarettes, you should offer employees an area where they can smoke e-cigarettes during their breaks.
The recommendation is that you amend your current smoking policy to include provisions relating to e-cigarettes, advise employees of potential disciplinary action for failing to comply with the policy and notify your employees of an area to smoke e-cigarettes (if implementing a ban).
New National Minimum Wage Rates (update March 2014)
The Low Pay Commission has recommended that the adult minimum wage should rise by 3 per cent from October 2014. The Government still has to approve the rise but, based on previous experience, there is a very strong likelihood that they will. The adult (21+) hourly rate will rise by 3 per cent to £6.50 (from £6.31); the Youth Development (age 18, 19, 20) rate will rise by 2 per cent to £5.13 (from £5.03), as will the 16/17 year rate to £3.79 (from £3.72) and the rate for apprentices under 19 (or over 19 in their first year) to £2.73 (from £2.68).
National Minimum Wage Guidance (update February 2014)
Another significant issue for the industry is the Chancellor’s recent statement about restoring the National Minimum Wage (NMW) to its value before the start of the financial downturn in 20118. This would mean a total increase of around 11% to £7. His statement comes at a time of improving economic forecasts and political parties turning their attention to a future election when low pay is likely to be a central issue.
Decisions on rates of NMW are taken by Ministers on the basis of recommendations from the Low Pay Commission (LPC). The Commission starts its deliberations in January and concludes with a Government statement in late March for October increases.
The case for caution in the face of continuing economic difficulty and risk of damaging job prospects has been made strongly by the national industry associations including the British Hospitality Association. Politicians are being urged to resist putting pressure on the LPC for significant rises and to accept their recommendations. Government Ministers have been known to add to the recommended rates in the past.
Whilst the LPC will not be taking any further evidence for this round, businesses can, by lobbying their local MP, help to ensure a balanced view on the impact of rate rises and head off the political pressure for additional rises.
If you would like more information on the minimum wage contact [email protected]
Zero Hours Contracts (update January 2014)
A zero hours contract is defined as an ‘employment contract in which the employer does not guarantee the individual any work and the individual is not obliged to accept any work offered’. The percentage of hospitality businesses using ZHCs rose from 4% in 2009 to 19% in 2011 – a reflection of the economic climate and the needs of businesses for a flexible workforce that can expand or contract easily in line with demand.
Just before Christmas Vince Cable MP, the Business Secretary, launched a consultation paper focusing on the two main issues – the ‘exclusivity clauses’ preventing an individual from working for another employer even if the current employer is offering no work, and ‘transparency’ in respect of the terms, conditions and consequences for individuals associated with ZHCs. This also addresses the employer’s responsibilities. The options the consultation puts forward include banning ZHCs altogether where hours are not guaranteed or relying on additional government guidance and employer led codes of practice for both ZHCs and dealing with the issue of transparency.
TSE is keen to hear your views so that we can feed these through to our partners, the Tourism Alliance which is coordinating a national industry response. The consultation closes on the 13th March 2014.
Package Travel Directive (October 2013)
The Package Travel Directivewas introducedto protect holiday makers stranded abroad by the collapse of their tour operator. However, its broad scope meant that it has placed onerous requirements on domestic packages too. Currently, a package is deemed to be any two of transport, accommodation or significant other service. It means that any accommodation, attraction or transport providers that want to work together to provide value-added products (e.g. accommodation with a ticket to a local attraction) need to comply by either being bonded or operating a trust fund.
The good news is that the European Commission is proposing to revise and update the Package Travel Directive so that it better covers modern holiday purchasing processes including situations where customers self package or where there is an exchange of data between two websites that facilitate the creation of a package. Read more here.
Simpler Financial Reporting for Small Businesses on its Way (September 2013)
BIS has today published a response to the consultation it undertook earlier this year on implementing the ‘EU Micros Directive’, which aims to reduce the financial reporting requirements for micro businesses. The outcome is that micro-businesses will have the option of preparing and publishing simplified financial statements (ie., profit and loss accounts and balance sheets) although for reasons of transparency and public interest, the Government has decided to exclude charities from the scope of this exemption. The Government wants to introduce this exemption as soon as possible so that it will apply to financial years ending on, or after, 30 September 2013 and related accounts filed on, or after, the date on which the changes come into force. This is good news for the tourism businesses who represent a disproportionately large number of micro-businesses. Download the BIS report.
What is a Micro Business?
A micro-entity is defined as meeting two of the three following criteria:
a) Balance sheet total: £316,000 (or less)
b) Net turnover: £632,000 (or less)
c) Average number of employees during the financial year: 10 (or fewer)
Change to Alcohol Regulations will help Small Tourism Businesses (Update July 2013)
There has been a lot of media attention associated with the Minister of State for Crime Prevention, Jeremy Browne’s, statement in Parliament that the Government has decided against introducing minimum pricing for alcohol. However, less conspicuous was the part of the statement where he announced that the Government was going to take forward proposals to reduce the regulatory burden for businesses that sell small amounts of alcohol. This is the culmination of a Tourism Alliance campaign we have been supporting since 2006 and will help small tourism businesses like B&Bs providing some alcohol to customers without having to gain a full licence.
Here’s a link to the Jeremy Browne’s statement in parliament https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/governments-response-to-the-alcohol-strategy-consultation
What is being proposed is that, instead of the need for a premises licence, these businesses will be able to apply for Ancillary Sales Notices (ASN), which would authorise limited types of alcohol sales. While this is a great step forward in resolving this problem, there is work to be done on the details – for example, what types of business are able to apply for ASNs, what types of alcohol sale will be permitted under the notice and how much alcohol is able to be provided.
Get Behind the VAT Campaign (updated February 2014)
View our dedicated page.
New Equality Act 2010 Guidelines (update May 2013)
The Equality and Human Rights Commission has launched a new series of free guides for small businesses on the Equality Act. Three guides are available: Understanding legal definitions of discrimination and unlawful behaviour in the Equality Act; Your role as an employer under the Equality Act; and Your role as a service provider under the Equality Act. Each guide covers what behaviour is unlawful under the legislation and is designed for businesses that don't have in-house HR resources. Click here - New Equality Act 2010 guides
Glimmer of Hope for Overseas Guest Records
The latest regulatory burden to come under the spotlight is the Immigration (Hotel Records) Order 1972 which requires all accommodation providers to collect lengthy information from non British, Irish or Commonwealth guests on arrival and departure. The Order was a child of the Cold War and it has long been argued it is now redundant, of no value and should be repealed. Our partners, the Tourism Alliance, believe that the Home Office is now prepared to consider change. With this in mind, in recent weeks TSE has been consulting with a selection of member accommodation providers to obtain information about how the Order is being complied with in practice. We have fed the findings to the Tourism Alliance who met Home Office Officials last week. The response to the idea of repealing the Order was very positive and officials are now working up detailed proposals for minister approval. We will ensure that members are informed of the outcome.
Business Rates Increase (update April 2013)
Uniform Business Rates rise this month by 2.6% in line with September’s retail price index to 46.2 pence in the pound. Larger properties with a rateable value greater than £17,999 will have to pay an additional 0.9p supplement. For more information on the changes to UBR and the postponement of the 2015 revaluation, see the latest guidance from the government valuation office.
Red Tape Issues (update February 2013)
Bed Taxes On The Cards? - Local tourism or bed taxes were back on the agenda again on the 29th January 2013 with a Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Committee report recommending powers for councils in England to impose such taxes. In a press article, the Committee Chairman, Graham Allen MP, suggested that ‘setting a tourist tax is common in much of Europe’. A flurry of media activity followed with the overwhelming majority of councillors and local MPs from key destinations rejecting the idea. The expectation is that this particular recommendation will be taken no further.
Red Tape Issues (update November 2012)
Credit and Debit Card Surcharges - Next year EU legislation is being introduced banning surcharges for credit and debit card transactions that represent more than the cost borne by businesses. In other words, if the cost to the business of taking payment by card is 2% , businesses would be prohibited from levying anything in excess of 2% as a surcharge. The Government is currently consulting on these proposals so let us know if you think this is likely to be an issue for member businesses. Email your comments.
The current rate available to TSE members via Barclaycard is 1.25%. Find out more ...
Televisions in Bedrooms - Agreement has been reached with the PPL (Phonographic Performance Ltd) who represent the record companies on a tariff for TVs in hotel bedrooms. The British Hospitality Association has negotiated £46.92 per 15 bedrooms or part thereof. The agreement follows a decision in the European court in 2009 that hotels should pay fees for copyright material appearing on TVs in bedrooms. If a hotel is already a PPL licensee, its 2013 renewal will include a charge for bedroom TVs backdated to 1 January 2013. If not a PPL licensee, it will need to contact them at www.ppluk.com and pay with effect from 1 January 2013. The new tariff does not apply to small residential hotels and guest houses with no more than 25 bedrooms and where a ‘residential licence’ has been granted, limiting the premises to residents and bona fide guests only, as these already pay a set fee of £54.98 for all PPL Music, including background music played in public areas.
VAT Campaign Update - Slow but steady progress is being made to reduce VAT rates on tourism services in line with other European countries. A new study using the Treasury’s own ‘Computable General Equilibrium Model’ has been completed and presented to Treasury officials at a meeting last month.
The good news is that the results were accepted and officials were particularly interested in the finding that reducing VAT on tourism is the most cost-effective way of generating jobs and economic growth of any measure so far test using the CGE model. It is for example, more effective than cutting corporation tax or national insurance premiums. Officials will now examine the findings more closely and prepare a briefing paper for ministers on the proposal.
A new website for the VAT campaign has been launched in order to provide background information on the rationale for lowering VAT on tourism goods and services to 5% and to keep everyone informed on progress that is being made in lobbying on this issue.
To go with the launch of the website, a briefing paper is being developed which will be ready for distribution during November. If you would like to become more involved as a supporter of the campaign, please contact Graham Wason, Campaign Manager by email.
STOP - PRESS : Formal launch of the campaign will be held at the Tourism APPG Meeting in Westminster: Read more...
Progress on Visas - Encouraging news of progress to improve visa processing for the Chinese Market. A Working Group has been established between the industry and the Home Office to focus on the three areas of work:
- Looking at what can be done to improve visa processing.
- Undertaking research to indentify the main barriers to Chinese residents wishing to visit the UK.
- Undertaking work to change the perception of UK visa processing in China.
The Working Group is meeting in December 2012 to agree a work programme and goals. The Government is also expected to make an announcement regarding visa processing in the third week of December. Whatever changes are announced should be a significant step forward on the road to an efficient visa process. UPDATE ON 12 DECEMBER 2012: Click here for announcement.
The Government’s Border Agency met with Chinese trade operators at VisitBritain’s China Trade Mission to hear at first hand the problems encountered by the trade and VB has appointed a Project Director for China whose first job is to work on the Visas.
Red Tape Issues (update October 2012)
Minimum Wage - The National Minimum Wage adult (21+) rate went up from 1 October to £6.19 an hour and the apprentice rate (for those aged under 19 or over 19 in their first year) rises to £2.65 an hour. The accommodation offset has gone up to £4.82 a day, but the hourly rates for 16/17 year olds and 18/19/20 year olds are frozen at £3.68 and £4.98 respectively.
Smoke-free (Signs) Regulations 2012 - TSE has been supporting the Tourism Alliance’s campaign on smoking signs. The latest news is that the Smoke-free (Signs) Regulations 2012, which revoke and replace the Smoke-free (Signs) Regulations 2007, will come into force in October. In a nutshell, these regulations state that you now need only one “no smoking” sign in any premises and this sign can be of any design and dimension.
The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health and the Trading Standards Institute, in consultation with the Department of Health have issued supplementary guidance to explain the nuances of this new legislation. Download the guidance notes.
Red Tape Issues (update August 2012)
Home Office Relaxes Guidance on Age Discrimination - Following heavy lobbying on proposed age discrimination legislation, the Home Office has relaxed wording in the guidance to accommodate the concerns of the tourism industry. Read more …
Red Tape Issues (update July 2012):
VAT Campaign Latest - Work on the campaign for reducing VAT on tourism products and services continues with an evaluation of the economic case using the Treasury’s Computable General Equilibrium Model nearing completion. This work will provide a solid foundation for further discussions with the Government and Treasury on the benefits to the UK economy of lowering VAT to a rate comparable with other European countries. A VAT fact sheet is also being finalised and will be made available here.
VAT Inclusive Pricing - The Committee for Advertising Practice which communicates and enforces Advertising Standards Agency rulings has recently issued further guidance on its adjudication that accommodation websites must advertise room prices inclusive of VAT. The exception is ‘those to whom the price claim is addressed pay no VAT or can recover VAT’. The Advertising Standards Agency has seen fit to apply a three month period of grace giving businesses until 17 September to comply. The ajudications can be veiwed on the ASA website.
Illegal Working - The Home Office has issued new guidance on how to avoid employing illegal workers. The documents can be viewed here.
Alcohol Deregulation - The Tourism Alliance has been meeting Home Office officials to discuss what can be done to reduce the regulatory burden on businesses that sell small quantities of alcohol such as bed and breakfasts. The present system means they have to go through the same process as businesses like pubs and nightclubs. The Home Office is developing their proposals for deregulation and a consultation paper is anticipated in early Autumn. One of the outcomes of discussions with the Home Office is the realisation that there is considerable resistance to any loosening of licensing legislation from licensing consultants and the police so significant change will not be easy to achieve. The Home Office consultation paper will appear here when available.
Government Pressing Ahead on New Age Discrimination Legislation - Despite all the efforts to get the Home Office to see sense on Age Discrimination legislation and how it applies to tourism, they are pressing ahead with implementation on 1 October 2012. The Home Office’s consultation response can be downloaded. That said, the Tourism Alliance has managed to get a clause put in that allows customers to provide their own transport, as long as the operator gives them an option of a transport inclusive price (so a hotel might be able to market to a specific age group if they said ‘It’s £100 if we provide your transport or £60 if you find your own way here!’). This might provide some ‘wriggle room’ for domestic businesses that rely on targeting specific age groups.
New Rights for Agency Workers - The tourism industry relies heaving on agency workers particularly during the peak summer season. However, employers need to be aware that the rights of agency workers were significantly enhanced by new regulations introduced in October 2011. Any staff employed via an agency will now be entitled to many of the same basic working conditions as permanent staff after they have been employed for 12 consecutive weeks. These rights extend to:
- Night work
- Rest periods/breaks
- Duration of working time
However, agency workers will not share the same rights as permanent workers in respect of:
- Sick pay
- Redundancy pay
- Health insurance
- Protection form dismissal
Whilst there is nothing in the new regulations which prevents any agency working being released after 11 weeks, there are strict anti-avoidance provisions to prevent abuse. For instance, rotating agency workers between jobs and having successive 12 week assignments will be open to challenge at an Employment Tribunal. Read more on the regulations.
Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill - tackling problems in the employment tribunal system.
VAT on Static Caravans and Alterations to Listed Buildings - In early 2012 the Government consulted on its proposals to introduce VAT to static caravans and alterations to listed buildings. TSE joined forces with the Tourism Alliance to lobby against the proposals. Read TSE's response on static caravans letter to HMRC. The imposition of VAT would have a serious adverse impact on the viability of holiday parks and historic properties threatening current and future job prospects at a particularly difficult time for the economy.
The very good news is that, in the last week of May 2012, the Government announced that it is to reverse its decision to apply VAT to static caravans. In the same week it also decided to scrap and earlier decision to put a cap on tax relief given to charitable donations. This is very good news for the many tourism attractions that are operate as charities. The hope is now that there will be an announcement on alterations to listed buildings.
Controlled Waste Regulations 2012 - our partner, the Tourism Alliance, has been successful in getting an exemption included in the Controlled Waste Regulations 2012. This exemption means that existing small accommodation providers will qualify for small business rate relief (i.e. they have a ratable value of under £12,000 which will encompass most single unit self-catering properties as well as a lot of small camp sites, caravan parks and B&Bs) with their rubbish collections - a saving of around £200 per annum.