Welcome to the unique
Business Village Networking experience

  • Opportunities to meet like-minded professionals
  • Give & receive referrals and business advice
  • No costly membership or subscription fees
  • Relaxed informal atmosphere
  • For established businesses and start-ups
  • Informative presentations
  • Breakfast - choice of cooked or continental
  • ...all for only £10 per week
This is what makes Business Village
. . . a meeting of minds - not just businesses
Business Village Meets
Every Thursday from 7.30 until 9 @ Campanile Hotel, Delta Business Park, Swindon
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Members' Blog Feed

These blog posts are written by our members and syndicated from their own websites. Clicking a link will take you to their website.

How to win new accounts – a presentation on the sales process by Neil Grant of SMP Ltd

Another great presentation at Business Village this week, this time from the founder and MD of South Marston-based SMP Ltd, Neil Grant. Neil set up Strategic Maintenance Planning Ltd 20 years ago which, in its first year of trading, turned over £67K, and in its second year of trading, £1m.  The company provides maintenance planning software solutions. […]

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Sham self-employment?

Q:      When is a self-employed person not self-employed?
A:      When they’re a really worker…..

Plenty of small businesses use freelancers to give them flexibility in meeting customer demand without the legal obligations and responsibilities of having employees.  The freelancer pays their own tax, and doesn’t have to be offered a set number of hours a week.
But here’s a sorry tale where this has worked out very expensive for a plumbing business.  And it’s now likely that similar arrangements will have to be reviewed carefully.
A plumber, Gary Smith, had signed an agreement with his company Pimlico Plumbers Ltd where he was described as a “self-employed operative”.  The wording of the contract suggested that he was effectively running his own business, providing a service to Pimlico Plumbers.
However there were some indications in his contract that in reality, he wasn’t genuinely self-employed.  For example, he was required to wear Pimlico’s uniform displaying the company’s logo, use a van leased from Pimlico (with a GPS tracker and the company’s logo), and work a minimum number of weekly hours.
On the other hand, he could choose when he worked and which jobs he took, was required to provide his own tools and equipment, and handled his own tax and insurance.
All went smoothly for 6 years until Mr Smith suffered a heart attack and decided he wanted to reduce his working days from five days a week to three.  Pimlico Plumbers refused his request, took away the branded van and terminated its agreement with him!
Mr Smith has now successfully brought a claim for disability discrimination.  He argued that he was entitled to basic workers’ rights – and this includes protection against unlawful discrimination.
Pimlico Plumbers argued unsuccessfully that Mr Smith was an “independent contractor”, rather than a worker or an employee, and therefore had no claim. 

The Employment Tribunal, looking at how Mr Smith worked in practice, found that he was a worker not self-employed.  Although he had registered as self-employed with HMRC and paid his own taxes, as far as employment rights are concerned the decision is that he should be legally classed as a worker because:  
  • he was obliged to provide his services personally

  • Pimlico Plumbers was more than just a customer of a business operated by Mr Smith.
Why does this matter?  Because people legally categorised as workers have the same rights not to be discriminated against, to minimum wage, to paid annual leave and to rest breaks as employees, and depending on earnings, need to be included in pension auto enrolment. 
So Mr Smith is now pursuing claims for disability discrimination and 6 years’ arrears of holiday pay against Pimlico Plumbers…
But we need to make the distinction that workers aren’t the same as employees.  They don’t have the full range of protections given to employees, for example they aren’t entitled to minimum notice periods, they aren’t protected against unfair dismissal and they aren’t entitled to redundancy pay. 

 General secretary of the TUC Frances O’Grady commented: “This case has exposed once again the growing problem of sham self-employment.  Unscrupulous bosses falsely claim their workers are self-employed to get out of paying the minimum wage and providing basics like paid holidays and rest breaks.”  Oh dear!

If you’re in doubt about whether your people are genuinely self-employed, or workers, or employees, contact The Human Resource today on 07884 475303 for expert advice.   We can give you confidence that the terms and practices applying to your workers and employees are all in order – so your business doesn’t become the next Pimlico Plumbers!
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Shrove Tuesday: pancake perfection or a flipping nightmare?

11th February 2017 Shrove Tuesday: pancake perfection or a flipping nightmare? A brief history of Shrove Tuesday/Pancake day and its traditions Observed across the world, Pancake Day or Shrove Tuesday, is not only an excuse to call someone a tosser… Continue reading

The post Shrove Tuesday: pancake perfection or a flipping nightmare? appeared first on AA Editorial Services.

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Sickies vs Presenteeism

We seem to have a pattern in the UK that the first Monday in February is the single day of the year with the highest sickness absence –  and now it’s earmarked as National Sickie Day.
It’s not hard to imagine why. The fresh start to the year in January in over, we’re still paying the bills from Christmas, still getting up and coming home in the dark. Freezing temperatures and widespread ‘flu outbreaks don’t help either.  Maybe it’s easier to phone in sick and snuggle down under the duvet….
So … be ready to tackle the odd bad apple in your workforce who has the urge to skive off work on the first Monday in February – or any Monday.  A proactive approach towards absence will make sure that an absence culture doesn’t take root in your workplace, hitting morale and productivity at a time when most businesses are looking to find ways to boost future growth.  Here’s what to do:
·         Communicate a consistent policy that people phone their direct manager if they need to take time off sick, and if practical don’t accept texts and emails.  
·         If an employee doesn’t even phone in but simply fails to turn up, handle it firmly as a disciplinary matter.
·         If you’re given a reason for absence that doesn’t relate to the person’s own health, let them know clearly that it won’t be counted as sickness absence.  It would be this sort of excuse – all reported in National Sickie Day top 10 bizarre reasons lists for not turning up to work:
o   “I’ve accidentally locked myself in the bathroom and I’m having to wait until someone with a key to the house can come round to let me out.”
o   “I’ve accidentally sent my uniform to the charity shop so need to go and buy it back.”
o   “I thought it was a bank holiday today and I’m 500 miles away.”
o   From a worker in Glasgow “I missed the stop on my train this morning and can’t get off the train now until London.”
The time can either be unpaid, or even deducted from the holiday entitlement (though you should make it clear that holiday normally must be booked in advance). 
·         As an employer you’re perfectly entitled to challenge an employee’s reason for absence.  But handle it at a confidential return-to-work interview and be sensitive to the fact that people may not feel comfortable telling you about their reasons.  Perhaps they’re suffering from an illness or mental health issue that they don’t feel they can talk openly about? Perhaps they’re finding it difficult to work with their team and are switching off? Perhaps they’re working around caring responsibilities at home?

On the other side of the coin, coming into work unwell for fear of your colleagues thinking you’re pulling a sickie if you take a day off (presenteeism) seems to be even more widespread than absenteeism. And could be costing businesses even more money.
A recent Work Foundation report has found that working on through illness could account for as much – if not more  – of a loss in productivity than sickness absence, because of errors, infecting others, irritation, lack of concentration etc. Sickness presence can also mean it takes longer for people to recover from illness.
The report found that personal money troubles, work-related stress, worrying about redundancy and perceived pressure from managers all contribute to people coming into work despite being ill.
Finding a balance
To keep the business running successfully and productivity up, we need to strike the right balance here.  The balance between taking action against any employees taking advantage of your sick pay scheme and on the other hand, ensuring the right support is in place for those who are genuinely ill.
Happy and supported employees are less likely to be absent, and ultimately they will be more productive, committed and engaged with the business.  Skilled managers create a workplace people want, an environment where people don’t think about calling in sick unless they’re genuinely ill. How? Interesting and fulfilling work, opportunities for developing our skills and feeling included and valued are all important.
If you have a motivated and engaged workforce with a strong team spirit, every individual who can come into work will do.
We help businesses to manage sickness absence, advising on policy and individual cases. Do you want to discuss your challenges with a professional, and walk away with a manageable action plan so you know exactly what you need to do? Give us a call today on 0784 475303 or email enquiries@thehr.co.uk.



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Making Tax Digital: latest from HMRC

More information has been published on how businesses, the self-employed and landlords will benefit from government plans to modernise the tax system. HMRC has issued in-depth details on how digitising the tax system through its Making Tax Digital project will work, ensuring businesses get their tax bills right first time, without the need for an …

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New networking group is the business for Gloucestershire companies

Businesses are flocking to a new Gloucestershire networking group, set up by a local businessman to fill a void in the Stroud area. StroudNet, set up six months ago by business coach Robin Waite, is now attracting some 50 visitors at each monthly event. StroudNet meetings are held at the Stonehouse Court Hotel and run […]

The post New networking group is the business for Gloucestershire companies appeared first on Word Worker – making words work for your business.

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Cirencester business group switches venue

Word Worker press release: Leading Cirencester business support group, Rekindle, is on the move for 2017. The group, which meets monthly and attracts around 50 businesses to each event, will be based at the Royal Agricultural University. The first meeting is on January 20, in the university’s Kenneth Russell room. The format for the networking […]

The post Cirencester business group switches venue appeared first on Word Worker – making words work for your business.

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Auto enrolment set to sweep up micro businesses

Word Worker press release This will be a crucial year for Swindon’s small and micro businesses, now being drawn into the government’s auto enrolment programme, which demands employers to set up pension schemes for their staff. That was the message delivered to the Swindon Auto Enrolment Support group, which meets quarterly at Regulatory Accounting. Its […]

The post Auto enrolment set to sweep up micro businesses appeared first on Word Worker – making words work for your business.

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Businesses should get ready for Making Tax Digital

Word Worker press release Businesses in Swindon should prepare now for the government’s sweeping taxation system changes which will be introduced with the Making Tax Digital programme. Jon Lacey, accounts director with chartered Swindon firm Regulatory Accounting, said although some of the implementation plans have been put back, the sooner businesses get to grips with […]

The post Businesses should get ready for Making Tax Digital appeared first on Word Worker – making words work for your business.

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Fundraising appeal for air ambulance and older people hits the heights

Word Worker press release A Cricklade lettings agency, which launched an appeal to help two Wiltshire charities, has smashed its fundraising target. mlettings hoped to raise £800 to split between Wiltshire Air Ambulance and Cricklade Open Door, which supports older people living in the community. But the response was so great, in the end the […]

The post Fundraising appeal for air ambulance and older people hits the heights appeared first on Word Worker – making words work for your business.

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Top spot for Wiltshire financial planning firm

Word Worker press release: A Wiltshire-based financial planning firm is celebrating after being named among the top 100 in the UK. Lexington Wealth Management, based in Lydiard Millicent, near Swindon, has appeared on New Model Adviser magazine’s Top 100 financial planning firms list for 2016. Managing Director Warren Shute said he was delighted to have […]

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