Bite the bullet on contracts

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Related tags: Red tape, Question

In spite of the encroachment of red tape, which has led many licensees to spend more time in the office than in the bar, some backwaters still appear...

In spite of the encroachment of red tape, which has led many licensees to spend more time in the office than in the bar, some backwaters still appear to remain when it comes to employment law, even among those discerning folk who choose the MA as their preferred reading matter.

From time to time I receive letters from readers working in the licensed trade whose employment position is tenuous, to say the least. I am sure it is not the only profession where dubious practices still occur, but somehow the myth persists that PAYE and insurance do not need to figure too strongly in the scenario for some workers.

This does not only apply to itinerant summer bar staff - my postbag contains letters from managers and long-standing pub professionals who say they do not have a contract, but instead receive a variable gross amount based on till receipts. Some are paid in cash, no questions asked, and are meant to work out their own salvation with the Inland Revenue.

Oh ye of little faith. You will be reading about yourselves a few pages further on in this newspaper, under the headline "Host faces £30k repayment shock" when the tax inspector finishes totting up on his calculator. The result is not pleasant, I can tell you.

There is also the famous "trial period" which appears to give freedom to the

employer/entrepreneur to disregard all the legislation and make arrangements that suit him. The problem is that things run on

in the same fashion a long way past the

initial stage, until you suddenly realise it has been four years and you still don't have a

contract, agreed holidays, holiday pay and

the like.

There is also the question of stock - does it belong to you or the owner? Who is actually doing the selling? Do you have an arrangement whereby you buy and sell the beer and then he takes his cut? Does this mean you are a tenant, or does he still call you a manager? Unless these issues are resolved you could find yourself suddenly on the wrong side of the law - or the door.

My postbag shows that those who accept a dubious arrangement are very nervous about losing everything if they raise questions.

But they have to bite the bullet - a proper contract is a right, not a bonus.

Related topics: Training

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