The Government first announced plans for a shared ownership right to buy in October 2019. At the time the sector raised concerns about the impact the plans would have on housing associations ability to borrow. An election and a pandemic later the Government announced, during the CIH Housing Festival last week, the return of the right to shared ownership as part of its Affordable Homes Programme (AHP).
We don’t expect any charity sets out with the intention of failing to pay the national minimum wage. However, in our experience many charities do not have sufficiently clear parameters around the way they engage with volunteers and, in some cases, unwittingly create a contractual arrangement with “volunteers” that would make them workers for the purpose of the National Minimum Wage Regulations.
The legal status of an individual, on whether they are truly a volunteer, is not always clear cut and there is no single test to establish whether an individual is a volunteer. However, the following factors will be key in determining whether someone can properly be regarded as a volunteer:
- Payment (of salary or in kind)
In order for any legally-binding contract to exist, there must be some form of benefit passing from one party to the other. This could be a financial benefit or could even include training, where the training is not wholly for the purpose of the persons work as a volunteer.
An obligation on an individual to perform work that is given to them is an essential requirement of any contract.
- Intention to create a legal relationship
If you and the volunteer have no intention to create a legally-binding relationship, a contract cannot exist.
We consider that charities routinely engaging volunteers ought to have a volunteer arrangement (a document that sets out the arrangements between the charity and the volunteer as opposed to an agreement) in place, which helps to define the nature of the engagement between the volunteer and the Charity. A written arrangement will help to identify and separate the rules from those that apply to employees within the charity.
Our clients are increasingly reporting that HRMC visits reviewing minimum wage compliance are considering their arrangements with so-called volunteers and, where there are regular payments going to individuals that appear to be more than expenses based on retained receipts, seeking to challenge the conclusion that they are purely volunteers who are not caught by the National Minimum Wage Legislation.
We therefore consider that if you have volunteers who are regularly paid or provided with benefits you review your arrangements to ensure that you can properly justify the approach.
For more information
If you have concerns about your arrangements with volunteers, please contact Matthew Wort.
Two final pieces of the possession jigsaw have been published on 15 September 2020. Mr Justice Knowles’ working group on possession proceedings has issued its guidance on the “overall arrangements” for possession proceedings.
One change proposed by the Building Safety Bill is the introduction of a duty holder regime, which will see statutory responsibility for the safety of higher risk buildings placed on key individuals
Throughout this pandemic, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has been publishing various “Statements on Coronavirus” (Statements) which provide guidance on consumer rights during this time.
A recent increase in COVID-19 cases in the UK means new measures are being put in place in an effort to reduce the risk of a second wave. Whilst the impact of COVID-19 continues to be felt, it is important to remain focused on the sector’s road to recovery.
Sometimes half an hour at a conference gives you the reality that has been staring you in the face all along. That was my experience watching “Change is on the Horizon”
Following our recent e-briefing on Possession Notices, Helen Tucker and Emilie Pownall from our housing litigation team discuss the impact of the changes on social landlords.
Not only has the possession stay been extended until 20 September, the notice periods to be given to tenants has been extended in certain circumstances with some important exceptions.
The Court has confirmed that a party cannot withhold its consent in order to re-write the original bargain.
Following the Grenfell Tower tragedy, building safety continues to be a key concern for social housing providers and their residents.
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