Please click here to read our summary of the Chancellor's Autumn Statement 2014.

We recently posted an article following the Employment Appeals Tribunal’s (EAT) decision that non-guaranteed overtime must be taken into account in calculating statutory holiday pay. Click here to view this article.

Three cases were heard jointly by the EAT (Hertel, Amec  and Bear Scotland) and the EAT granted permission for the claimants in two of the three cases to appeal the decisions.

The Unite Union, who represented the claimants in Hertel and Amec, has announced that it will not be appealing the decision made by the EAT.

This announcement means that there will be no change to the EAT’s decision on the limitations for back dated claims and that workers will not be able to bring claims based on a series of underpaid holiday periods where there has been a gap of more than three months between these periods.  Unite Union has stated that “we don’t want to bankrupt businesses; going forward it is about ensuring employees are paid their fair share”.  

The employers in the two cases may still appeal the decisions made by the EAT; however they are unlikely to do that given they would risk overturning the limitation that was put in place to the benefit of employers restricting the extent to which workers could make retrospective claims.

This latest news should largely alleviate the concerns of many employers that they could be exposed to very significant back dated claims for additional holiday pay.

If you would like further information on how you should react to this ruling please contact your normal Thomas Westcott representative.

The charity commission has recently announced that there will be changes to the charity annual return. The changes will apply for returns prepared in 2015.

There are three new question areas, with questions on:

1. How much income did the charity receive from : Contracts from central or local government to deliver services; Grants from central or local government
2. Does the charity have a policy on paying its staff
3. Has the charity reviewed its financial controls in the period

All charities with income of over £10,000 are required to complete the annual return. Charities with income of over £25,000 are also required to submit accounts to the charity regulator.
We also remind charities that the Charity Commission is getting tougher on those charities which fail to file annual returns and accounts on time.

If you have any queries on the above please contact Steve Cresswell (Head of our specialist charities team) on 01271 374138 or



The latest issue of our Taking Account Newsletter is out, CLICK HERE.

Employers may have to pay employees more holiday pay and employees may have holiday pay claims against their employers dating back to 1998 following a decision of the Employment Appeal Tribunal (“EAT”) on 6th November 2014.

In essence, the EAT has ruled that an employee is entitled to their ‘normal’ pay when on holiday. For fixed salaried employees there is no change. However, employees whose pay fluctuates (due to working overtime, where commission payments are made or where work related travel time is paid) will be entitled to have their holiday pay computed by reference to their average pay calculated over a prior reference period.

At present many employers only pay employees for their minimum contracted hours when they take holiday leave.  Employers may therefore be liable for the difference between the minimum contracted hours and the employee’s average pay on previous holiday pay. The difference can be significant when overtime, bonuses and / or commission make up a substantial part of an employee’s remuneration.

The EAT ruling will, however, only apply to certain types of overtime and travel time payments.  The detailed position is as follows.

Guaranteed overtime is where the employee is obliged by the contract to offer and pay for agreed overtime.  Following a judgement in 2004, guaranteed overtime must be included within the calculation of holiday pay.

Non-guaranteed overtime is where there is no obligation by the employer to offer overtime but, if they do, the worker is obliged by the contract to work this overtime. The recent ruling on 4 November 2014 has clarified that workers should have their normal non-guaranteed overtime taken into account when they are being paid holiday pay.

Voluntary overtime is where the employer asks the worker to work overtime and the worker is free to turn down the request as there is no contractual obligation on either side to offer or refuse overtime. The question of voluntary overtime has not been directly considered by any recent judgements, so there is currently no definitive case law to suggest that this needs to be taken into account when calculating holiday pay.

Work related travel can have a number of different meanings but for most employment matters this will usually mean any travel that is made for work purposes that is not a part of a workers commute to their usual place of work.  Where payments are made for time spent travelling to and from work as part of a worker’s normal pay, these may need to be considered when calculating holiday pay.

While there is no reason in principle why employee holiday pay claims cannot be backdated to the date when the Working Time Regulations, on which this case was based, came into force in 1998, in practice the EAT went on to limit the potential for claims for historical non-payment of holiday pay. Broadly, where at any time there has been a three months or longer gap between an employee’s holidays the employee is precluded from making a claim in respect of any holiday periods occurring before the latest such three month interval.

The EAT has given permission for this judgement to be appealed to the Court of Appeal.  At the time of writing, an appeal has not yet been lodged, but it is expected that it will be.  This means that a final decision on this issue is likely to be some time away.  In the meantime potentially affected employers may want to urgently review their employees’ contracts of employment in order to mitigate the effects of the EAT ruling going forward. Employers should also seek advice on how to minimise their exposure to historic holiday pay liabilities. If you would like further guidance on how to proceed please speak to your normal Thomas Westcott contact.

To see the latest news on this story please click here.




With recent falls in milk, beef and cereals prices comes the increased importance of keeping a watchful eye on costs. The brief spell of a prosperous milk price, a healthy beef return and wheat price to be proud off did not seem to last long, and I suspect few have forgotten the importance of managing costs in that short time. In a busy day that never seems to end, the last thing on the mind is to trawl over the figures to see where a saving or efficiency can be made.

Bench marking is useful to allow comparison between enterprises and there are some useful tools available to assist in this exercise. The bonus is that they are often free, (already paid for in the levy) and are generated from a large pool of farm data. The following may assist in finding useful information and benchmarking tools.

Dairy - Dairy Co Milk Bench +

Beef and Sheep – Eblex Stocktake 2014 and KPI calculator

Arable HGCA – CropBench +

PBEX – Price facts and figures

Bench marking allows you to compare your own performance with the industry to help identify where possible improvements could be made.
If you’d like assistance in using any of these tools or would like a review of your business, costs and overheads then please call Edward Jenner on 01237 472725.

There is a change to the law relating to parents of babies due on or after 5 April 2015 where there will be, in some circumstances, the right to Shared Parental Leave.
This change in the law will affect all employers and, whilst April may seem a long way off, mothers of babies due in April will already be pregnant and keen to know what their rights will be.
Shared parental leave enables mothers to commit to ending their maternity leave and pay at a future date, and to share the untaken balance of leave and pay as shared parental leave with their partner, or to return to work early from maternity leave and opt in to shared parental leave and pay at a later date. Shared parental leave is designed to allow couples greater freedom to decide how to take their family-friendly leave. Shared parental leave is also available to adoptive parents.
Shared parental leave must be taken in blocks of at least one week. Individuals can request to take shared parental leave in one continuous block (in which case the organisation is required to accept the request as long as the employee meets the eligibility and notice requirements), or as a number of discontinuous blocks of leave (in which case the employee needs the organisation's agreement). A maximum of three requests for leave per pregnancy can normally be made by each parent.
To be able to take shared parental leave, an employee and his/her partner must meet various eligibility requirements and have complied with the relevant curtailment, notice and evidence requirements.

For example, to be eligible to take shared parental leave, the employee must have at least 26 weeks' continuous employment with the organisation by the end of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth and remain in continuous employment with the organisation until the week before any period of shared parental leave that he/she is planning to take.

The notices that the employee must give to this organisation and that his/her partner must give to his/her employer to be able to take shared parental leave are made up of three elements. They are:
•         a "leave curtailment notice" from the mother setting out when she proposes to end her maternity leave (unless the mother has already returned to work    from maternity leave);
•         a "notice of entitlement and intention" from the mother or partner giving an initial, non-binding indication of each period of shared parental leave that he/she is requesting; and
•         a "period of leave notice" providing the organisation with a written notice setting out the start and end dates of each period of shared parental leave that he/she is requesting.

While there are minimum notice periods required by law, the earlier that an employee informs the organisation of his/her intentions about taking shared parental leave, the more likely it is that the organisation will be able to accommodate the employee's wishes, particularly if he/she wants to request periods of discontinuous leave.

Personnel Today have produced a useful webinar explaining the rules and eligibility criteria further and can be viewed by CLICKING HERE.

ACAS have also produced a good practice guide which provides further information.


Don't forget to RSVP for our Annual Charity Seminar - 13th November 2014, running during Trustees' Week the topic for this years' seminar is 'Boosting Charity Income' CLICK HERE for full details.

From January 2015, farmers will no longer be entitled to claim subsidies on fields covered by solar panels. The announcement was made by Elizabeth Trust, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural affairs, as a drive to encourage food production from land, and to slow the growth of the land based solar parks throughout England and Wales. This comes on the back of another recent announcement of reduced incentives for large scale land based solar parks from next April, with stricter planning rules. Together these reduce the attractiveness of such investments going forward, with serious need for investment appraisal before embarking upon.

It is also felt that such a move will deliver better value for the taxpayer with a saving in the region of £2m per year, as well as achieving greater benefits for rural communities, wildlife and the wider environment.

However, opportunity and incentive still remains for solar panels on roofs of buildings for example south facing cattle shed, as a source of diversified income and, at present, capital allowances are available to set off against profits of the business.

For more information call Edward Jenner on 01237 472725

Thomas Westcott is delighted to be co sponsor of the Volunteer Ability Award at this years' Volunteer of the Year Awards hosted by Devon Community Foundation and taking place this Thursday 23rd October 2014.

Shona Godefroy and Steve Cresswell two partners from the Thomas Westcott specialist charity team will be attending the evening at the RAMM to present the award.

This year there will be five awards:

* The Devon Community Foundation Thriving Community Award

* The Trustee of the Year Award

* Creating Opportunities for Children & Young People Award

* Helping People Grow Volunteer of the Year Award

* Volunteer Ability Award ~  sponsored by Thomas Westcott & St Loye's Foundation

The nominees for this Award are:

Seize the Moment - Janice Copp
Special Olympics Exeter & District - Paul Gray
Access all Aerials - Rowland Crow