First4Lawyers launches new TV advertising campaign

First4Lawyers has launched its latest multi-million pound TV advertising campaign, featuring a new central character and highlighting why it only works with the best Personal Injury and Medical Negligence solicitors.

Led by a BAFTA-nominated Los Angeles-based director, 1,456 combined man hours were put in to produce 6.5 hours of footage for the creative new campaign. The pre-production process saw 520 hours, while 616 were worked by 28 people on the set over two days of filming.

First4Lawyers’ Personal Injury activity is seen more than 48 million times a month, while its Medical Negligence activity is seen and heard over 26 million times a month.

The marketing collective is currently one of only three legal brands in the UK that have a dedicated Medical Negligence TV advert, running an average of 2,100 times per month.

A complete advertising plan

First4Lawyers sees 41 million views per month of its Personal Injury and Medical Negligence TV advertising, while 4.6 million listeners hear its radio advertising across 65 radio stations in the UK.

A further 2.4 million readers see the collective’s newspaper advertising and 100,000 people see its online marketing activity per month, while 200,000 people see the brand on social media.

First4Lawyers’ website also sees visits from one in three people who click when searching the term ‘Medical Negligence’ on Google. The collective has runs over 11,300 variations of Personal Injury PPC adverts across almost 45,000 keywords and search phrases. These adverts are seen more than twice as often as the collective’s nearest competitor’s.

Medical Negligence PPC adverts are similarly effective for First4Lawyers. It runs 2,800 variations of PPC adverts running across almost 13,000 keywords. The adverts are seen almost three times as often as those of the firm’s nearest competitor.

Organic search is another successful marketing strategy for First4Lawyers. The firm ranks organically for more than 7,500 search terms – a 76% increase over the last six months. Organic visibility has increased 44%, the second highest growth registered in the sector.

First4Lawyers membership

For the cost of one month’s membership of the First4Lawyers Personal Injury panel, you could alternatively afford less than three adverts on ITV2 per day, six full page adverts in the Manchester Evening News or 7.5 days advertising at the top spot on Google for the term ‘No Win No Fee’. And you would be responsible for all the leg work.

Meanwhile, for the cost of one month’s Medical Negligence panel membership, you could purchase 1.5 adverts per day on ITV2, three full page Manchester Evening News adverts or just four days and 1.5 hours advertising at the top spot on Google for the single term ‘Medical Negligence’.

First4Lawyers’ Personal Injury panel members can enjoy 22-27 claims per month, with an average conversion rate of 69%. Medical Negligence panel members receive between 20-24 claims per month, converting an average of 22% into live cases.

Join the First4Lawyers panel

If your firm’s marketing could use a boost, First4Lawyers is ready to help. By joining the panel, you’ll maximise your marketing budget and enjoy consistent results.

Join the UK’s most seen legal marketing brand as it launches a brand new awareness-raising campaign and see a measurable return on your investment.

Why is content marketing better than traditional methods for legal SMEs?

For large legal firms, marketing is a relatively straightforward affair. But for SMEs, the need to be innovative and eschew tradition has never been clearer.

Many an SME legal firm will feel a tinge of envy at the comparative simplicity of marketing services for larger firms. With their well-known brand names, wide geographical reach and in-house marketing teams, the big players enjoy obvious advantages.

That does not mean smaller firms have not tried to market themselves, but the use of traditional methods has led to poor returns on investment.

Using analogue techniques for trying to reach clients in a digital age is always likely to be less successful. For instance, a newspaper advert is here today and gone tomorrow. Similarly, a billboard is constrained by physical location.

Moreover, there is little control over who gets to see these adverts; a host of uninterested people may pass a billboard while a more likely customer walks down a neighbouring street.

In contrast, digital content is by nature more accessible, without such limitations of time and place. But that is just one of its advantages.

Through content marketing, law firms and their digital partners can create great content and focus it more accurately on the people they want to engage with.

Based on the characteristics (known as personas) of the target market, content can be produced concerning the topics of greatest interest to them. The rule of seven suggests customers typically must be exposed seven times to a marketing message before buying; few will see the same newspaper ad seven times, but regular interesting online content can start a conversation to achieve this goal.

This effort can be further boosted by using search engine optimisation (SEO) for law firms, as the right keywords can direct readers to relevant content. Social media and email marketing can also focus more on particular target groups.

With this greater precision of digital marketing, the ROI is sure to be higher than that of traditional methods.

For some legal firms the use of modern techniques requires a shift from the ways of the past. Since old habits die hard and lawyers cannot be expected to do the jobs of marketers, it makes sense to work with partners who can apply the most contemporary and effective methods of communicating with target markets.

By Charlie Britten, BeUniqueness.co.uk.

Photo from Pixabay.

Government schemes for first-time buyers – which could you be eligible for?

First-time buyers – Did you know there are several Government schemes to help you get your foot on the property ladder? Our guide explains some of the main options available so you can work out if you are eligible and decide if any could benefit you.

1. Help To Buy Equity Loan

With a Help to Buy Equity Loan the Government lends you up to 20 per cent of the cost of your new-build home in England only. This means that you will only need a 5 per cent deposit and a 75 per cent mortgage to cover the rest. You will not be charged fees on the loan for the first five years.

To reflect the disparity in property prices across England, the upper limit for the equity loan in Greater London is 40 per cent. You can only use this scheme if you take out a repayment mortgage.

Who can apply?

  • first time buyers and homeowners purchasing a new build property costing up to £600,000.
  • In Wales, schemes apply to homes costing up to £300,000.
  • In Scotland the maximum threshold depends on the value of the property and when your application is completed.
  • In Northern Ireland there is a similar equity loan scheme available.

In order to qualify, you must not sublet the home or part exchange with your old home. You must also not own any other property when you purchase a home with a Help to Buy: Equity Loan.

This scheme is run by Government-appointed agents who guide you through the property purchase.

2. Help To Buy ISAs / Lifetime ISAs

Help To Buy ISAs

Help to Buy ISAs allow first time buyers to save up to £200 per month towards a deposit on a new home. The government then boosts these savings by 25 per cent. The maximum government bonus available is £3,000 for which you would need to have saved £12,000 in order to receive. The bonus is available to purchase homes costing up to £450,000 in London and up to £250,000 elsewhere.

Pease note, the scheme is only available until 30th November 2019. You are allowed just one Help to Buy ISA per person. Here is some more information about Help to Buy ISAs:

  • You can save up to £1,200 in your first month – £200 per month thereafter.
  • When you withdraw from your ISA to make a deposit on a home, a 25 per cent bonus is added.
  • A minimum of £1,600 must be saved to receive a bonus.
  • The largest bonus available is £3,000.
  • If two first time buyers purchase a property together, they can both use an ISA.
  • Your property must cost up to £250,000, no more (£450,000 in London).
  • You don’t necessarily have to use the ISA for a deposit. You can make withdrawals but would not get the bonus.
  • Help to Buy ISAs cannot be used with buy-to-let mortgages.

Lifetime ISAs (LISA)

A Lifetime ISA (LISA) is a scheme devised to help you buy your first home or save for retirement. You must be over 18 years old and under 40 years old to open one. Here are some of the basics.

  • You can make deposits of up to £4,000 every year and the Government will add a 25 per cent bonus
  • It can function as a savings account and accrue interest.
  • Alternatively, it can work like a stocks and shares investment.
  • The maximum bonus possible is £33,000.
  • You can use your LISA to help you buy your first home providing it costs £450,000 or less.
  • If you’re buying with another first-time buyer, you can both use LISA savings and bonus’

3. Right to Buy

Originally introduced in 1980, the Right to Buy scheme gives council tenants in England the opportunity to buy their home at a discount. Currently, the maximum discount available is 70 per cent off the purchase price. This is up to £108,000 in London and £80,900 elsewhere in England.

This scheme is available for those who have lived in a council owned property for 3 years or more. The property must be self-contained and your only/main residence.

Joint applications are allowed, meaning you are able to buy your home with a fellow tenant or your partner. You can also make an application with up to three family members as long as they have lived in the property with you for the past 12 months.

You will not qualify if you are or are about to be made bankrupt, if a court has demanded that you leave your home, You are a council tenant or you have “Preserved Right to Buy.”

4. Right to Acquire

The Right to Acquire initiative is similar to the Right to Buy scheme, the difference being that it applies to housing association tenants in England rather than council tenants. It was created in 1996 and updated in the Housing Act 2004. It means tenants have the right to buy their property at a reduced cost.

5. Shared Ownership

Shared ownership is a scheme whereby you purchase a share of your home from your landlord. This will usually be the council or a housing association. You will then rent the remaining share.

You will need to take out a mortgage which can be between a quarter and three-quarters of the home’s full value, paying a reduced rent on the share you don’t own. You can go on to buy a bigger share in the future – up to 100 per cent.

Anyone who has a household income of less than £80,000 (outside London) or £90,000 (inside London) can buy a home through shared ownership. Military personnel get priority over other groups and the scheme will apply across England only. To apply, speak to the Housing team at your local council or your housing association.

Photo by sommart sombutwanitkul on shutterstock.com.

Imminent changes to probate fees 2019

Back in November 2018, the Government announced there were to be changes in the way probate fees would be calculated in England and Wales. When the changes eventually take place, probate fees will no longer be charged as a flat fee. They will be paid according to a sliding scale based on the value of the estate. These changes were due to come into effect on 1 April 2019 but were delayed due to pressures of the ongoing Brexit negotiations. The Government says it will bring the changes before the House of Commons as soon as Parliamentary scheduling allows. Before we go into detail about these changes, let us take a closer look at what exactly probate is and how it works.

What is probate?

Probate is the legal process of dealing with an estate on behalf of a person who has died. When someone ‘applies’ for probate, they are requesting permission to carry out the wishes documented in a person’s will. However, the term also applies to the whole process of settling someone’s estate. Administering a will involves settling all debts and distributing all assets according to the requests of the deceased. There are separate rules to follow if a person dies without a will, which is known as dying intestate.

Grant of probate

For permission to take on this responsibility, a grant of probate (or grant of confirmation in Scotland) is required. The executor of the will applies for this grant to prove they are legally entitled to access the deceased’s funds, organise their finances, and gather and distribute the deceased person’s assets in the way they wanted. Only the Executor named in the deceased’s Will can apply for probate.

How will probate fees change?

The changes mean there will be no probate fees for estates worth less than £50,000. However, for properties worth more than this, there will be an increase in fees. Probate fees for estates worth over £2 million will rise to almost £6,000.

Currently probate costs:

  • £215 if you apply yourself; or
  • £155 if you appoint a solicitor to apply for you.

These fees are fixed, regardless of the size of the estate.

Under the proposed new system, the price structure will be as follows:

  • Estates valued at less than £50,000 – NO probate fees (the current lower threshold is £5,000)
  • Estates valued between £50,000 and £300,000 – £250
  • Estates valued between £300,000 to £500,000 – £750
  • Estates valued between £500,000 and £1m – £2,500
  • Estates valued between £1 million to £1.6 million – £4,000
  • Estates worth between £1.6m and £2m – £5,000
  • Estates worth more than £2m – £6,000

Not only will families have to pay much higher costs, but executors will have to find the money to pay fees up front, reclaiming it from the estate after probate has been granted. This could mean borrowing in order to pay the fees upfront.

SInce the introduction of the new fee structure is still ongoing, probate registries are accepting applications for probate prior to HMRC processing the account. Applications must include a note to say that the appropriate Inheritance Tax forms will follow shortly. In the meantime however, some bereaved families could avoid the higher fees by applying for probate now, prior to the new cost structure being approved. So if you’re currently dealing with an estate worth over £50,000, it might be a good idea to submit your application as soon as possible before the fees go up.

Why the change?

The Government’s main reason for the new fee regime is to address the large shortfall in the running of the court service in England and Wales. However, the Probate Registry is just one aspect of the court service, a self-funding one at that.

The current fees already cover the administrative costs. In 2017, the Government stated that the new fee structure is expected to “deliver around £300 million in additional income per year – a substantial contribution to the running costs of HMCTS.”

Photo by arfa adam on shutterstock.com.

 

Why legal firms need to communicate better with clients

Legal firms should be telling a story even as they provide their products and services, something that can help develop a brand instead of diminishing it.

Providing legal expertise and helping with a case is one thing, but good communication with clients is essential. This point may seem obvious, but it needs bearing out for one key reason; because lawyers are much more likely to think they are good at communication with their clients as their customer base is.

This was a key finding of the LexisNexis Bellwether Report 2015: The Age of the Client. While 80 per cent of solicitors and barristers felt they were good at keeping in touch, only 40 per cent of clients concurred. That means that 60 per cent were left with reasons for grievance.

Among the common shortcomings are failing to keep clients abreast of the progress of a case, or missing a deadline without prior warning. Indeed, the hardest thing to do is to explain to a client why something was late and a promise not kept. The old saying “under-promise, over-deliver” remains true.

Other shortcomings include failing to take account of the impact of language barriers for those who are not fluent in English.

It is not just that your own clients will be more likely to come back if you have kept in touch and met or exceeded their expectations; word-of-mouth will amplify the impact you have, either growing or shrinking your potential client base.

These factors will all be magnified if your firm uses content marketing and social media as key elements of its marketing strategy. At the core of any successful strategy is having a story to tell using great content, which will outline just why you do what you do; namely your passion for helping your clients and righting wrongs.

By providing good service, you can not only demonstrate this in everyday situations; you can also use it to capitalise on good feedback.

Positive publicity on social media, ample scope for feedback to help enhance your services and the chance to raise awareness of what you do through blogs, articles and posts can all be hugely beneficial.

This, however, must dovetail with an equally positive experience of good everyday communication with your clients. If your firm can achieve this, it will help your brand and reputation grow even beyond your own highest expectations.

By Charlie Britten, BeUniqueness.co.uk.

Photo from Pixabay.

The legal considerations of medical negligence claims

When you need medical attention, you are trusting the experts who treat you to provide you with the very best level of care. Most of the time, your trust is well placed.

However, there may be times where you feel like you or a loved one haven’t been shown the appropriate level of care that you should have been. In these instances, you may be entitled to put in a medical negligence claim. Here, you’ll discover more about these types of claims and the considerations to take into account before making one.

What is a medical negligence claim?

A medical negligence claim is the legal process of complaining about the medical care you’ve received. If you feel the level of service was below what it should have been and you or a loved one has suffered because of it, you can make a claim against the professionals who treated you.

You will need to be able to prove the negligence in court. While most negligence claims can be settled without having to go through the courts, there is a chance that you will need to attend a hearing.

How does it work?

In order to make a medical negligence claim, firstly you’ll need to ensure you’re claiming within three years of the incident. Generally speaking, the earlier you make the claim, the better it will be for you. If you were to wait a year or two to make a claim, questions could be raised over why you waited.

In order to make the claim, you’re going to need a good lawyer. You can find a professional through companies such as National Accident Helpline. It’s really important to ensure they are properly trained and experienced within the medical negligence field. They will be able to explain the process, as well as walk you through it step by step.

In terms of the costs, most solicitors tend to offer a no win, no fee arrangement. However, you may be expected to fund the claim upfront, in which case you may need private funding.

What could I claim for?

There are a lot of things you can claim for in terms of medical negligence. It doesn’t have to be treatment you’ve received through an hospital. You could also claim for dental work, a problem that occurred at an eye clinic, or for cosmetic surgery work you’ve had done. If the medical care damaged your health and could have been avoided, you can make a claim for medical negligence.

It’s important to remember that if you are planning on siling a medical negligence claim, you are going to need proof. This means you’ll need physical records of your care and treatment. Without it, your claim is unlikely to be accepted.

Making a will: why it’s not just for older people

You may have plans for your estate after you pass away, but unless you have a will, there is no guarantee your wishes will be adhered to.

Making a will is about more than just ensuring your assets are distributed the way you want after you’re gone – it’s also about providing for your loved ones and sparing them the stress and expense of having to settle your affairs.

It is also a process you should go through as soon as you experience any major life event or change – from buying any significant asset to getting married or entering into a civil partnership.

Why should you make a will?

A will is intended to detail your wishes for the distribution of your estate upon your death. It also sets out whose care you want to leave your children in. This is one of the main reasons making a will is important for younger people.

If you don’t have a legally valid will in place when you die, the law dictates what will happen to your assets. And this may not be what you want to happen. This is particularly relevant if you are in a relationship but not married or in a civil partnership, as your partner will not necessarily inherit anything.

Dying without a will is known as intestacy. Dying intestate means your family will not have any legal say in how your assets are distributed. For example, the law states that if you are married, your spouse will inherit most or all of your estate, leaving your children with nothing. This is true even if you are separated.

Meanwhile, if you do have children or grandchildren, the amount they are legally entitled to depends on where you live in the UK, with the rules in Scotland and Northern Ireland being different to those in England and Wales. Any Inheritance Tax that they may have to pay could be higher than if you had made a will before dying.

In addition, if you die without any close relatives still living, your whole estate could pass to the government.

So to ensure you can rest assured, knowing your family will be looked after in the way you want, making a legal will is the best decision.

When should you make a will?

You can make a will at any point in your life after turning 18. The importance of having a will in place will depend on your specific circumstances but is usually the right thing to do when it comes to providing for your family.

Consider your life situation. Are you married? Are you a parent? Do you have a positive net worth? If you answer yes to any of these questions, you should make a will.

It is also essential to update your will any time you reach a new milestone or your situation changes. If you buy a new property, have a child, receive a financial windfall or experience a change in your relationship status, you will need to update your will to reflect your different circumstances and revised wishes for the distribution of your estate.

There is also the possibility you are going to take part in a risky activity – whether that’s a form of extreme sports or visiting a dangerous part of the world. If you know you will be putting your life at risk in the near – or distant – future, you should ensure you have a valid will in place in case the very worst happens.

You may also have to update your will for a reason entirely unrelated to you. This could be down to your chosen executor. If they pass away before you do, move away or become otherwise unable to carry out this duty, you will have to revise your will and name someone else as your executor.

If a named beneficiary in your will passes away before you do, you will also have to update your will.

What to include in your will

As well as setting out who you want to appoint as guardian to your children and who you will leave your property and other physical and financial assets to, you can specify who will take ownership of your digital assets.

In today’s world, we tend to spend a great deal of our lives online. We have social media accounts, email accounts and online shopping accounts. We also have photographs, films and music stored online, which form part of your possessions.

You should therefore set out who you want to leave these items to. You should also request that a certain person or people take control of your online accounts. You should therefore leave passwords and other login details to your chosen executor.

However, don’t include any of this information in your will as others could then access it. Rather, keep these details in a separate document and provide instructions on how to find it.

You can also state your wishes for your funeral, as well as any care instructions for pets.

Although making a will may not be a thought you relish, doing so will ensure your wishes will be adhered to and your family will be looked after. Knowing a specialist wills solicitor has guided you through the process will also give you the confidence that everything is legally valid, making the situation less stressful for your loved ones.

Image copyright zimmytws on 123RF.

How to claim compensation for shoulder injury

Shoulder injuries are one of the common types of injuries sustained in an accident. You may have been involved in a road traffic accident, an accident at work or a slip or trip in a public place. Shoulder injuries can be overlooked as minor, but they can have serious and long term damage such as dislocation, rotator cuff, a fracture, frozen shoulder, osteoarthritis etc.

Unfortunately, shoulder pain can go ignored so if you have suffered a shoulder injury and it was not your fault, then you may be able to claim for compensation for your pain, loss of earnings and your medical expenses. A solicitor’s firm dealing with injury compensations claims will be able to assist you and aid you in claiming compensation you might be owed.

No one can predict the long term effects a shoulder injury may have on your life. It may cause you incapacity that you are unable to work, which can then lead to psychological injuries. It is therefore important that you protect your future and seek adequate legal advice so the experienced solicitors can assist you in dealing with the consequences of your injury.

Assessing shoulder injury severity

The shoulder is a vulnerable joint of the body. It comprises of three bones; the clavicle (collarbone), the scapula (shoulder blade) and the humerus (upper arm bone). There are also muscles, ligaments and tendons, all of which can be damaged in an accident.

If your experiencing any of the symptoms below, then it would be advisable to obtain medical attention straight away:-

  • The pain is sudden and/or very bad
  • You cannot move your arm
  • Your arm or shoulder has changed shape and/or is swollen
  • You feel pins and needles that don’t go away
  • There isn’t any sensation in your arm or shoulder
  • Your arm or shoulder area is hot or cold to touch

It is important to obtain medical advice, as a qualified doctor will be able to provide a diagnosis about the severity of the damage caused. This will also assist your solicitors with the compensation claim and help them to instruct the relevant medical-legal expert as part of the claim process.

What will your compensation consist of?

As well as looking to obtain compensation for your injury, your solicitors will also look at potential future losses such as shoulder injury requiring surgery and future care. To assist the solicitors in evaluating your claim, they will also research case studies of similar shoulder injuries.

Your compensation can include but will not be limited to:-

  • Physiotherapy if NHS waiting time is too long
  • Rehabilitation similar to physiotherapy but other forms of treatment recommended by the medical experts
  • Special damages/out of pocket expenses such as loss of wages, unexpected medical bills, travel expenses, damaged clothing, damaged items supported by receipts, invoices etc.
  • General damages will consist of compensation for the pain, suffering and loss of amenity supported by legal medical reports from medical experts. These reports then assist your solicitor in valuing your injury claim.
  • Medical expenses incurred as a direct result of the injury such as prescription charges, treatment costs, surgery, specialist expert charges. Again supported by invoices and receipts.
  • Travelling expenses such as to medical appointments, treatment venues, solicitors office. So any trip made as a direct result of the accident/injury. Keeping receipts or note of all journey and dates is useful.

No Win No Fee agreements

Unfortunately, victims sometimes do not wish to make compensation claims as they fear the financial burden as well as being an injured party. No Win No Fee agreements could be a benefit to you and less stressful during such a difficult time. This agreement will put your mind at ease as our fees are only charged if the case is successful which means we will drive harder to make sure you get the compensation you deserve but also work hard to make sure your claim succeeds. We aim to make the process as less stressful as possible and always keeping you updated on the progress of the claim.

Therefore, if you have suffered an injury as a result of another party’s negligence, then you can discuss your case with our experienced solicitors. Our specialised solicitors will explain the process in simple terms, so no legal jargon to confuse or worry you. They will assess your claim and assist you in understanding each step. We are confident in the services we offer and have a proven success rate. We pride ourselves on providing a transparent service with no hidden fees. Our legal advice team will be able to supply you with free, confidential, no-obligation advice tailored to your circumstances. They can also tell you if you are eligible to make a No Win No Fee claim for your injuries.

Our firm is regulated and safe. Our Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA), also known as a No Win No Fee Agreement is governed by the Law Society, and we pride ourselves to be a reputable firm which adheres to the rules. For example, we are prevented by the law to charge more than 25% of your compensation for our fees. So you may be pleased to know that you will be awarded at least 75% of your compensation after our fees are paid. No upfront charges which will put your mind at rest while allowing us to deal with your claim efficiently.

What steps do you need to follow while making a claim compensation for a shoulder injury?

To help us build a strong and successful case, we would recommend that you do the following:-

  1. Seek medical treatment after your accident and continue to do so if necessary
  2. Take photographs of the location where the accident took place
  3. Take photographs of your injury
  4. Obtain details of the party involved or party liable for your safety and any witnesses present
  5. Keep receipts and any details of any costs incurred

Accidents can cause shock and distress, so when you feel ready, contact your solicitors who will advise you whether you have a claim and what the next steps will be.

Call to get free advice and to start a claim

If you have been involved in an accident whether that be a road traffic accident, accident at work or a fall, slip or trip and have suffered a shoulder injury, then contact our personal injury solicitors. We are here to make things easier for you and your family.

Our reputable law firm, Direct Solicitors, have handled thousands of cases per year with satisfied customers. Our dedicated team will work hard to get the compensation you deserve.

Our experienced solicitors await your call where they will provide you with a free no obligation no win no fee consultation.

Best practice for schools when dealing with complaints

The UK’s schools are amongst the most regulated entities imaginable, with issues such as safeguarding children a key focus for all interested parties.

As a result, it’s imperative that all maintained schools and nursery schools have published procedures for managing complaints, whether these come from children, parents, support staff or teachers themselves.

But what’s the best practice in this instance, and how can schools safeguard themselves when processing complaints?

The existing complaints procedure in schools

According to Section 29(1) of the Education Act 2002, all maintained schools and education establishments must provide concise and published procedures to deal with complaints.

These procedures must also be robust and consistently applied, in order to ensure transparency and fairness for both complainants and the subject of any accusations that are made.

The procedures must also be applied to all complaints that relate to any community facilities or external services that schools provide, particularly in instances where there are no statutory processes already exist.

The purpose of these guidelines is to create a shared and consistent practice for all maintained schools to adhere to, whist establishing a greater sense of understand amongst the relevant authorities.

This also helps schools to avoid common pitfalls and misunderstandings, which can often lead to complications and significant legal wrangles.

Understanding the difference between legal requirement and best practice

Under the aforementioned section 29(2) of the Education Act 2002, further language is used to distinguish between schools’ legal requirements and best practice advice.

For example, schools must “have regard for any guidance given from time to time by the Secretary of State” whenever creating its complaints procedures.

Even this creates something of a legal grey area, however, as the phrase “must have regard” does not mean that the DfE’s guidance needs to be followed to the letter. In fact, whilst it’s expected that schools will follow the best practice recommendations, establishments can apply alternative processes if there’s good reason to.

To help avoid any confusion and ensure that your complaints procedure meets its legal requirements, we’d recommend that you liaise with a specialist such as Browne Jacobson.

This will enable you to access real-time advice whenever you need it, whether you’re formulating a viable complaints procedure or dealing with an issue as it happens.

This will also help you to distinguish between a complaint and a concern, with the latter to be treated as “an expression of worry or doubt over an issue” that’s considered to be worth if providing reassurances.

In contrast, a complaint is recognised an “expression or statement of dissatisfaction”, either with an individual within the school or a particular practice.

What’s changed in employment law of late?

Employment law is central to the UK labour market, with a number of significant changes having been made since the 1970s. Many of these improvements have been implemented in conjunction with EU legislation, creating more favourable conditions for employees at all levels in the workplace.

In simple terms, employment law is a broad area that encompasses all areas of the employer and employee relationship, whilst it includes a number of various rules and administrative regulations for companies to adhere to. There are also clauses that place demands on employees, with the vast majority of legislation protective in its nature.

Below, we’ll explore this further whilst asking what changes have been rolled out since the beginning of April?

The gender pay gap

Every April sees the introduction of new employment legislation, with one of this years’ most important laws surrounding the so-called “gender pay gap”.

This applies to all companies with 250 or more employees, with firms having spent the last year adding the finishing touches to their gender pay gap report. This applies to private sector firms, who must publish their report on a company website and make this publicly accessible to everyone for a minimum of three years.

These results should also be uploaded to the government’s reporting website, and whilst commentary is not required companies with a significant gender pay gap must provide context and move to narrow this over time.

Pension payments

This April also saw the minimum level of employer contribution into a pension auto-enrolment scheme increase, from 2% to 3%.

At the same time, the employee contribution was also hiked from 3% to 5%, meaning that the total payable into a staff member’s pension scheme increased to 8% in total.

This is a significant increase that will be reflected on an employee payslip, but it’s by no means the only change made to this document in April. In short, payslips must also now include additional information for individuals whose pay varies depending on the number of hours that they’ve worked.

The right to a payslip has also been extended to all workers rather than just employees, and this is a major but relatively understated change.

The minimum wage

On a final note, it’s imperative that your company is now paying the national minimum wage for workers aged 25 and over.

This sum has now increased to £8.21 per hour, whilst the rate for those aged between 21 and 24 has also risen to £7.70.

At the same time, workers aged between 18 and 20 are now entitled to earn £4.20 per hour, and you’ll need to reflect this in your payroll for employees of all levels.

All of these changes require you to comply fully, and you may need to seek out HR expertise and consider a number of risk advisory factors. Otherwise, you’ll run the risk of losing your top talent and facing significant legislatory disputes.