Ben Impact update now available

The latest Ben Impact update is out now, which shows that Ben saw mental health concerns double during October-December last year. There was a 50% rise in people asking Ben for help with their mental health – this has gone from 10% in July-Sept to 20% in Oct-Dec.

During the quarter, mental health was also the second biggest reason why people contacted Ben for help, compared with the previous quarter when concerns about physical health featured most prominently. We believe this has been driven by the increase in awareness raised during Ben’s mental health campaign period, from October to December 2016, which culminated in the organisation’s first ever national industry fundraising event, Hats on 4 Mental Health Day. So Ben would like to thank everyone for their support in helping them to spread the word and taking part in this important campaign which raised over £11,000.

The report also shows that over half (52%) of requests for help were from people concerned about their finances, an increase on last quarter’s figure of 49%. You can find some advice about finances and how to deal with debt by CLICKING HERE.

During the quarter, Ben’s payroll giving team visited 148 dealerships, delivered 748 presentations to 2,761 employees in the industry, resulting in a total of £26,000 new payroll pledges. Ben’s thanks go to all those who are supporting the organisation’s work in this way.

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Legal Update

More advice from the IAAF’s legal advice partner, Lawgistics.

Calling time – full or part

Both part time and full time workers who are doing the same or similar work need to be treated the same. As an employer you cannot treat one less favourably than the other.

Part time workers have the right to be treated no differently than colleagues who are full time in a comparable job role. This includes:

  • Same rates of pay
  • Same opportunities to training (don’t exclude part time staff because they simply work part time)
  • Same holiday entitlement based pro rata
  • Treated no different if workers are selected from redundancy
  • Have the same opportunities which are open to full time staff such as career break schemes

As an employer, you will need to provide an objective reason that justifies treating part time staff differently and the reason meets a genuine business need.

If a part time member of staff thinks they are being treated less favourably, and if there is no satisfactory discussion with their supervisor/line manager, they can then ask for a written statement with an explanation of the unfavourable treatment. The response should be within 21 days and if the member of staff is not happy with the reason then they could potentially bring a claim against you in an employment tribunal.
Closing a site and redundancy

When a company has multiple sites and is closing one of them, is it a redundancy situation for the workforce deployed at this site? The established law so far appeared to confirm the simple answer: yes, it is a redundancy situation, unless the employees have a mobility clause in their employment contracts, on which the employer can rely and instruct relocation.

A recent Employment Tribunal case Kellogg Brown & Root (UK) Ltd v Fitton and Ewer the courts added another refinement: it would be open for the courts to look into whether the instruction to relocate issued under the mobility clause was fair. In this case, Mr Fitton and Mr Ewer worked at the site of Kellog in Greenford, Middlesex. The company then closed its site in Greenford and instructed both employees to relocate to its site in Leatherhead, Surrey in pursuance of the mobility clause. Both employees refused and were summarily dismissed for gross misconduct in refusing to obey a lawful instruction.

The Employment Tribunal found, confirmed on appeal, that the instruction to relocate from Greenford to Leatherhead, some 30 miles away, was unreasonable and the dismissal was therefore unfair. The case was decided on its specific facts and the outcome would have been apparently different if both sites had been nearer or in the same locality.
The benefits of benefits

In tough economic times SME’s may seek to find ways in which to cut costs but avoid redundancies. Removal of staff benefits may be seen as a potential money saver; increased pension allowance or private healthcare for example, but is their removal really a good idea, how easy is it to do and what might be the consequences?

From a legal standpoint, the first port of call is the employment contract. If the benefit is included as a contractual term and your employees do not agree to a change, you will have to explore a variation of contract without employee consent which when to the employee’s detriment is likely to invoke a legal challenge and could also be the case in a situation where a benefit is contractual but where the contract includes a “general right to vary” clause as this difficult to rely on when seeking to remove benefits.

If the benefit is not a contractual term you would need to consider whether the benefit has become an implied part of the contract by way of ‘custom and practice’ for example and this means it must be; “reasonable, notorious and certain”.

The fact that a benefit has been granted by an employer for a number of years will not necessarily mean it has become a binding entitlement. Firstly, this is because the term must be known to the workforce so that employees have a reasonable expectation of receiving the benefit. For example, if details of the benefit are published in an easily accessible document such as a staff handbook this might point towards an implied term. However, if information about the benefit is set out in a restricted policy document available only to a small group of management or HR, this would point away from the benefit having become an implied term. Secondly, the employer must have behaved in such a way which suggests it felt a sense of legal obligation to provide the benefit.

From an HR and management standpoint it is important to consider why you offer the benefit and the likely effect of its removal. One aim of reward and pay is to attract, retain and motivate staff and what you lose in staff motivation, loyalty and trust may not be worth the cost of withdrawing the benefit. It is vital to carry out a firm analysis of the potential legal implications and on the impact to business before making any decisions.

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New penalties from next month

Motorists are warned that new penalties for using their mobile phones behind the wheel come into force on 1 March.

From next month, guilty drivers will receive six penalty points and a £200 fine.

There is serious risk in the physical distraction of holding a phone while driving, but there is also the risk of the mental distraction every driver faces when trying to do something else other than drive and therefore compromising not only their own safety but that of other road users.

New drivers could have their licences revoked through just one mobile phone offence under the new rules. Neil said, Anyone whose licence is revoked in the first two years of driving means they will have to spend more than £100 to reapply for a provisional licence and take new theory and practical tests. Added to the £200 fine and this could be a very costly process.

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An unfair advantage?

Local authorities are increasingly encouraging anonymous tip-offs about businesses which may not be legally compliant. What’s happening and what are the risks?

In the post. In October 2016 Worcestershire companies licensed by the local authority (LA) received a letter from the regulator. It acknowledged the cost and time that the permit holders had taken to ensure legal compliance. It recognised that the majority of companies comply with the law and have an environmental consciousness when it comes to manufacturing their products. It went on to point out that a minority are not so concerned, or may even be unaware of their obligation and therefore, wittingly or not, have gained a cost advantage over their licensed competitors.

Caught out. The letter was triggered by the successful prosecution of a printing firm, following a tip-off from another business. The printers were found to have been operating at a significant commercial advantage for many years without pollution abatement equipment, which resulted in a fine for the company and each of its two directors. The printers were obliged to apply for a permit and invest in abatement equipment. They are now complying with the same standards as their competitors and operating on a fair footing.

Request. The letter asked for help in identifying unlicensed companies and encouraged recipients to anonymously inform the LA about any local competitors. The LA then undertook to investigate the companies to determine whether they comply with the law.

Warning. With cuts to their funding, LAs are finding low-cost ways of targeting their efforts (including asking for tip-offs), meaning more companies will be under scrutiny.

Tip. If you are carrying out an industrial activity, find out if you need a permit. A favourable view is taken of companies who seek to comply, as long as they have not been deliberately avoiding compliance as a way to make more money.

Because of budget squeezes, local authorities are adopting new tactics to uncover non-compliance. If you don’t have an environmental permit in place, don’t delay, as the likelihood of being caught out has increased.

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G-TRUCK & UAN TRUCK support Rooster in the unveil of “King Klaus” ahead of new racing season

G-TRUCK and UAN TRUCK are proud to announce that they will once again partner driver Luke Taylor and the Rooster truck racing team for the British Truck Racing Championship 2017 season, which opens at Brands Hatch 25th/26th March.

G-TRUCK is the commercial vehicle parts distribution arm of GROUPAUTO and UAN Truck is the commercial vehicle arm of UAN. Both trading groups are owned by Alliance Automotive Group, a European leader in supplying parts and related technical knowhow to more than 25,000 car and commercial vehicle repairers, garages, fast fit outlets, body shops, specialists and DIY chains. Alliance Automotive Group is active in France, Germany and the UK.

At a special event for Rooster Truck Racing and its partners G-TRUCK & UAN TRUCK, Rooster unveiled to sponsors a powerful and perfectly turned out new racing truck as part of the team’s preparations for its second season in the championship.

King Klaus

The MAN racing truck – dubbed “King Klaus” in reference to its German origins – replaces the Renault that driver Luke Taylor raced to a mid-table finish in his rookie season.

“It was called Klaus in Germany where we bought it from, and we added the ‘King’”, says Rooster team manager David Taylor. “The name Klaus means something like ‘Victory of the People’ in Greek and we’re confident that the truck can bring a few victories for Rooster in 2017.”

Rooster calls 2016 its ‘acorn’ season, a time for both Luke and the support team to get used to the demands of top level truck racing. The experience should help Rooster become even more competitive in 2017.

“The season is still two months away but our preparation is already better,” says Luke. “I only properly got into the cab of the last truck during the first practice lap at Brands Hatch, just before the first race of the season! This year the new truck is ready well ahead of time and we’ll be booking a weekend at Pembrey in advance of Brands Hatch to put it through its paces on a racing circuit.”

Mechanical issues with the truck held Luke back in several races last season and the team point to the difficulty in sourcing parts as one of the reasons it made the decision to invest in the two-year-old, 12 litre, 1150hp MAN. Luke expects the lighter truck to be quicker into corners, while the suspension, a problem that dogged the team throughout last season, should be considerably easier to manage.

“It’s a more modern truck,” agrees David. “That should make us more competitive right from the start.”

“We went into last season wanting to win but really being happy to just race. We had a lot to learn and we still do, but the whole team – not just Luke – will be better prepared this time.”

Luke adds: “Everybody will know their jobs and what they have to do in different situations, far more than at the beginning of last year.”

The team will also be more fully exploiting the potential of new technology. Rooster will use in-cab video and data to analyse performances during race weekends. The information should help Luke and the team fine-tune racing tactics and take a more strategical approach to race planning.

It’s all a marked step up from the raw and inexperienced team that headed into Brands Hatch just over a year ago. Luke and David agree that none of these advances would have been possible without the support of the partners and sponsors who turned out in force for the unveiling of the new truck and a chance to catch up with the Rooster team.

“We know it wouldn’t be possible without them all and we’d like to thank them again for their support,” says Luke.

Martin Sangster, CV Commercial Manager for G-TRUCK, has been involved with the team since the start of the 2016 truck racing season, agrees that although Rooster will be a more professional operation in 2017, the team’s philosophy will remain the same: “We’re not a corporate team – we’re very friendly and down to earth and we’d like everybody to come and see us on race days, bring friends and family, and enjoy themselves. That’s a big part of the appeal of Rooster.”

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IAAF Chief Executive interviewed on Radio 4

The IAAF’s Chief Executive Wendy Williamson told the Radio 4 You and Yours programme that proposals to extend the MOT test from three years to four for newer vehicles are fraught with danger.

With the proposals to extend the frequency of MOTs currently at the consultation stage, the IAAF is highlighting the dangers involved and the risks that threaten driver safety.

Wendy Williamson, IAAF Chief Executive at the 2016 IAAF Conference

The government is promoting the move in a positive light, claiming motorists could save up to £100m a year, but the IAAF is arguing that this could lead to an increase in road accidents and fatalities as there will be no formal inspection of a vehicle’s road worthiness for a further 12 months.

By extending the test frequency there will be more non-roadworthy vehicles on the road for a further year with no official mileage or emissions recorded until after four years. The federation is working alongside other industry bodies to combat the unwelcome legislation and protect the safety of all road users and the future of the automotive aftermarket.

Opposition to the proposal has cross-federation support, with the Automotive Aftermarket Liaison Group (AALG) also arguing against the extension, warning that the change would be detrimental to drivers and has serious safety implications.

Wendy Williamson, IAAF chief executive, said: “The current test frequency is both safer and more cost effective for motorists. If these new proposals come into force we strongly anticipate an increase in defective vehicles on UK roads and all the statistics support this prediction.

“In recent years, the MOT testing frequency has been subject to much debate. The IAAF’s stance has always been that DVSA’s regulation of the MOT process and current testing frequency of 3:1:1 helps to make the UK’s roads the safest in Europe and we will fight any detrimental changes vigorously.”

The ‘You and Yours’ episode is available now on BBC iPlayer Radio. CLICK HERE to listen to the interview and then click on the blue button next to MOT to hear Wendy’s segment of the programme.

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Wendy Williamson wins ‘Lifetime Achievement’ award

Wendy Williamson, Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation (IAAF) chief executive, has received the ‘Lifetime Achievement’ award at the Car & Accessory Trader (CAT) Awards 2017.

This year, the event moved north and was held for the first time in the Lowry Hotel in Manchester on 10 February, welcoming a number of leading aftermarket professionals who were in attendance to network among themselves and congratulate Williamson on her prestigious win.

Wendy Williamson receiving her award from Greg Whitaker, Editor of CAT Magazine (R) and Mark Field of Impression Communications (L)

Since graduating with a business studies degree, specialising in marketing, joining Black & Decker as a graduate trainee and then entering the automotive sphere through Unipart, Williamson has gone on to become an established expert in the independent automotive aftermarket, utilising her marketing and aftermarket experience to help secure the sector’s future.

Williamson said: “Receiving this award is incredibly humbling and a great honour. The automotive aftermarket is a fantastic sector and I would like to pay tribute to the enthusiasm and passion shown by members in protecting and promoting the trade. The IAAF continues to grow in stature and this award is recognition of the positive contributions the federation and its members have made to the industry.”

Williamson’s position as an aftermarket leader has been further supported recently after gaining recognition from 2016 Autocar’s Top 100 Great British Women.
IAAF represents the largest number of parts distributors and suppliers in the independent automotive aftermarket, having total representation of the trade. This reinforces the strength of its voice within government departments, increasing its power over legislation affecting the industry.

The federation supports members by providing a variety of products and services such as through health and safety, insurance and fleet management schemes.

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Government may change licence restrictions to encourage alternative fuel take-up

The Government is developing proposals to allow drivers to operate alternatively-fuelled commercial vehicles which weigh more than currently allowed under their licence restrictions.

It has a long-term target of reducing freight and logistics industry emissions by at least 80% on 1990 levels by 2050.

As part of its Freight Carbon Review 2017, the Government said it is looking to allow operators of alternatively-fuelled HGVs up to an extra tonne in weight to account for their heavier drivertrains, while it is also developing proposals to allow Category B driving licence holders to operate alternatively-fuelled vans up to 4,250kg.

The document brings together evidence on the opportunities for and barriers to reducing road freight greenhouse gas emissions.

Other measures identified include working with the Energy Saving Trust to pilot an HGV fleet review scheme advising SME fleet operators on reducing fuel consumption and costs, and supporting the roll-out of the HGV technology accreditation scheme.

Responding to the review Andy Eastlake, managing director of the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP) said: “The LowCVP very much welcomes the publication of the Freight Carbon Review.

“The freight sector is responsible for around 17% of the UK’s greenhouse gas and about 21% of the NOx emissions from road transport; and it represents one of the most challenging areas to decarbonise.

“The relative contribution of the commercial vehicle sector to total emissions has been growing but it has not, until now, had the same level of focused support as the car or bus sectors (or, indeed, walking and cycling). It provides some of the best opportunities for innovative solutions to make an impact on carbon dioxide emissions.

“The Partnership has been working closely with the Department for Transport to develop the data and benchmarks necessary to provide ‘building-blocks’ for effective policy in this area.

“We will continue to work with the Government and industry to support the further roll-out of the HGV accreditation scheme and other policy mechanisms that may be associated with it in future.

“We have already held several events and activities to renew stakeholder focus on low emission freight transport (some in association with TfL’s LoCITY initiative) and have re-established the LowCVP’s Commercial Vehicle Working Group which will hold its first full meeting on March 1 in Birmingham.”

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London Mayor calls on Government to adopt diesel scrappage scheme

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Kahn, has called on government to implement his new proposals for a national ‘dirty’ diesel scrappage scheme.

The Mayor has made air quality a top priority and has consulted on plans which include a ‘toxic’ charge for the most polluting vehicles, bringing forward the introduction of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), and then expanding it up to the North and South Circular Road.

However, the Mayor claims that without a clear plan to tackle emissions from diesel vehicles, the city’s air will not improve.

In his manifesto, he committed to put forward a proposal to Government for a diesel scrappage scheme and has now published a report, with Transport for London and Cambridge Economic Policy Associates, on its merits.

It provides a new framework for a national scrappage fund and modelling which other UK cities could use to produce their own scheme and subsequent share of funding required.

The package of proposed measures could be delivered by Government over a two-year period, and would help fulfil the UK’s legal obligation to comply with European pollution limits, incentivise ‘dirty’ diesel drivers to switch to cleaner vehicles, and protect the health of people in the capital and across the country, says the report.

The key recommendations have now been presented to the Chancellor, Phillip Hammond, the transport secretary Chris Grayling, and environment secretary Andrea Leadsom.

They include:

Payments of £3,500 to scrap up to 70,000 polluting vans and minibuses in London and a national fund to support charities and small businesses that often own older diesel and mini buses.
A credit scheme valued at £2,000 to help low-income households in cities scrap up to 130,000 polluting cars, with incentives for car clubs.
Payments of £1,000 to help scrap up to 10,000 older polluting London taxis: traditionally the taxi trade has had a limited choice of heavy, polluting diesel vehicles but this proposed fund would be used alongside wider existing support to help drivers switch to new zero-emission models.

Urgent implementation of these proposals would help reduce the cost of introducing and expanding the Ultra-Low Emission Zone and help to achieve a 40% reduction in London road transport NOx emissions, says the Mayor.

Under his new proposal, the total Government compensation for drivers of the most polluting diesel vehicles in London would be up to £515 million. This is before taking into account industry participation, which has the scope to make a significant reduction in the amount to be funded by Government, he claims.

Khan said: “A national diesel scrappage fund is the cost effective way to deliver significant emission reductions while reducing the economic impact on those most affected, such as small businesses, charities and low income households.”

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Business Rate changes on the way

Business rates in England and Wales are being revised to take into account changes in property values.

A statement from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) said that most businesses will not face sharp rises in costs. It said, ‘Following the revaluation, three-quarters of properties will see no change or even a fall in their bills, and the small minority of businesses that face an increase will benefit from our £3.6bn transitional relief scheme.’

However, according to the BBC, property experts have predicted that some businesses, especially in thriving commercial centres and the south-east of England could see very dramatic changes to their rates bills, by as much as several hundred per cent.

The move represents the first change to business rates in almost a decade and will result in companies paying rates which have been calculated based on the rise in property prices since 2008.

Business rates are calculated by multiplying the rateable value of a property by a multiplier set by the government. But as property values change over time, rateable values need to be reassessed periodically – typically every five years.

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