Sector Focus


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Firms must remain vigilant against age discrimination

Is your premises suitable for your business needs?

Brian Flint, from mfg Solicitors, discusses commercial property planning classifications

The planning class of any commercial property could have a lasting impact on your decision to make the purchase, but changes in planning law can now assist you. For example, a commercial

property classed as A1 is perfect if you wish to run a shop but, aside from temporary permissions for change of use, you will generally need to seek extra permission if you want to run a financial services business (A2), restaurant (A3) or pub (A4). It’s worth bearing in mind

that in some cases it’s now possible to change use from A1 to A2 without the need for further consent. If you buy a pub which has

an A4 classification you should, subject to professional advice, also be able to run a restaurant, although the required planning classification is A3. Equally a takeaway could operate under an A1, A2 or A3 classification without further consent. However always be aware

that noise, plant, extraction fans, ventilation, extended hours and the consequent impact on neighbours all remain key issues in considering change of use and/or breaches of planning classification. If you are in any doubt as to

whether a premises is suitable for your business needs, always discuss with your solicitor, consult your local planning office, an independent chartered surveyor or a planning expert.

If members wish to find out more they can contact Brian on 0121 236 7388 or email


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A Sutton Coldfield HR expert has warned businesses to be vigilant against age discrimination after an 88-year-old NHS secretary became the oldest person to win a legal case. Sara Abbot from the HR Dept

North Birmingham says that with more of the population working into their later years, the risk of firms facing age discrimination cases is on the rise. The warning comes after

grandmother Eileen Jolly successfully sued the Royal Berkshire Hospital after concerns over her alleged ‘frailty’ and age.

‘Don’t let age come into your assessment of staff or candidates’

After the case, Mrs Jolly told a

national newspaper: “I feel people ought to be allowed to carry on working if they want to and can still do what is required.” Ms Abbot said: “Age discrimination is not just relevant to older staff: younger workers can be discriminated against too. “Discrimination could happen at

any time, but there are some occasions when it’s more likely. “These include during

recruitment, when making training and promotion decisions, managing performance and at retirement. “It’s vital not to make age-based

assumptions which distort decisions. This often leads to poor outcomes all round, such as hiring the wrong people, demotivating

Time sensitive: Don’t assess staff on age. Inset: Sara Abbot

existing employees who see through the prejudice and, of course, discrimination tribunal claims. “It is about mindset and

practical measures. So, don’t let age come into your assessment of staff or candidates. Try forming teams with people of different age groups who are working to common goals – this brings people together. “Facilitate different age groups exchanging skills, knowledge and

ideas. It could be a real benefit to your business. “An age discrimination tribunal

claim could be brought by someone who doesn’t even work for you – based on a job which specified a number of years’ experience. Or as a result of some so-called ‘banter’ from a colleague. “Or because of some shoddy

treatment around a forced retirement. It’s worth reading up on and seeking professional advice if you think you may have an issue.”

New chair of Pensions Board

Squire Patton Boggs’ Pensions partner Helen Miles has been appointed as the chair of the NHS Pensions Board by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. In her new role, Helen (pictured) will be

responsible for ensuring that the pension scheme, which has more than three million members, is compliant with regulations, legislation and the Pensions Regulator’s Code of Practice. She will work with the board to

provide ongoing evaluation of the governance, delivery and monitoring mechanisms of the NHS Pension Scheme. Helen said: “In over 25 years as a legal

adviser to pension schemes, I have worked alongside many trustee boards in managing governance, compliance and member engagement. As part of the firm’s pensions team, I already deal

with many of the largest and most complex private sector schemes in the UK. “The experience I have drawn from my client work

has given me many of the key skills which I will need in this role, and this was recognised in my selection and appointment. “I look forward to bringing that

experience to bear in ensuring the NHS Pension Scheme continues operating to the very highest standards.” Clifford Sims, head of the firm’s

Pensions Practice Group, said: “Helen’s appointment is very well-deserved and testament to her considerable experience, strategic nous and outstanding

communication skills. “We are very proud of Helen and believe that she will be a real asset to the NHS Pensions Board.”

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