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Fresh Threads: Business growth and home office expenses

  1. Kat Haylock

    Kat Haylock Community Editor Staff Member

    Posts: 325 Likes: 138
    8 |

    Hi UKBFers,

    Welcome to Fresh Threads, our weekly community roundup of the best queries and debates from the forums. 

    This week in UKBF Stories, Francois marked his return from traipsing around Europe by exploring small business blog success, the effectiveness of leaflet drops and the bizarre celebration of business failure. On the forums, the community discussed home offices, business growth, and managing company finances. Here are my top picks for this week:

    1. Undisclosed negatives in new staff

    paulears, Employment & HR

    As paulears outlines, he tries to give young people a start wherever he can. He has a good record of hiring people with disabilities, as he’s always found positions for them to work in. He gives the example of a girl who lost her leg to cancer working as stage management, a job that required cool efficiency and not much movement.

    However, he’s had trouble with two recent employees. One was “dangerous” in health and safety terms, and the other had a poor attitude to work, leaving the company in the lurch before a 14-hour shift. After terminating both employments, paulears was accused of firing them because of their disabilities.

    “I'm aware of the disability legislation in general terms,” paulears says, “but if their disability is not revealed before you take them on, what do you do when they are totally unsuitable for the job they’re engaged to do?”

    Newchodge once again brings in her expertise – read the rest of the replies here.

    Newchodge: If the condition amounts to a disability under the Equalities Act the employer should weigh up whether reasonable adjustments to the job they were hired to do can be made to allow them to continue in the job. If no reasonable adjustments are feasible then the employer can consider whether there is another role that is suitable is available.

    If no reasonable adjustments/alternatives are available and the consideration of them should be documented and discussed with the employee at the time then the dismissal of a disabled person for being unable to do their job is potentially fair. No employer is expected to pay someone to stand around waiting for the five minutes in the day for a task to come up that they consider they can do.

    2. Why is my business not growing?

    RadicalRooster, General Business

    After working for the same company for six years, RadicalRooster has seen it fluctuate in terms of staff size but the number of clients has remained consistent. The company isn’t pitching for new business, but the numbers remain comfortable.

    RadicalRooster is lost as to why his boss hasn’t bothered to try and grow the business, given that it seems to have a lot of potential, and finds himself debating whether to stay with the company.

    MY OFFICE IN CHINA: Negotiate with your boss to sell the business to you (or for you to manage the business with an agreed stake), if your belief is that he is ready to sell/retire the business. A business rarely stands still: it either goes forwards or backwards, and it seems from your post that your boss does not have the initiative to move the business forward.

    S2K: That business can be a lifestyle business, where the shareholders get paid enough to live the life they want and that's it.

    ADW:  My guess would be he is happy at this level and size. Different people want different things out of a business endless growth and all that comes with it is not always it. Finding a decent level income and maintaining it could be exactly what your boss is happy with. Many people in business have pushed past the optimum point of profit and pressure balance. If you can find what suits you then good on them.

    3. I was sold the wrong item 18 months ago. Is it an error or fraud?

    Proclean, Legal

    Proclean bought a Mosmatic flat surface cleaner for their business 18 months ago, choosing the brand for their reputation as top of the range. After the nozzle suffered wear recently, Proclean discovered that the cleaner is not a genuine Mosmatic, but one of a cheaper range.

    Proclean plans to call the supplier to demand a refund or a correct replacement, but asks: is this a mistake or fraud?

    The Byre: Sounds more like cheating to me I would voice my disapproval and point out that there are other suppliers of Mosmatics and show that when they do try this kind of cheating, the consequences are a loss of trust and a future loss of sales.

    Newchodge: This is blatant fraud. It could have been an error, but for the 'explanation' about the nozzles and the offer to supply ones that fit. Contact trading standards before you contact the supplier again.

    Obscure: Issuing a replacement is exactly what I would do if I was fraudulently mis-selling items. Don't want the customer making a fuss and the manufacturer of the real ones finding out what I am up to. Give the customer a new one and they shut up and go away happy and I carry on selling my fakes.

    4. What can I claim back for my home office?

    Alext333, Accounts & Finance

    Alext333 moved into a new house recently, enabling him to run his business from downstairs and live upstairs. After redecorating the business rooms to a high standard, his accountant has refused to accept the work as business expenses because it took place within his home.

    Since the redecorated rooms are used solely for business, Alext333 argues, should we be able to claim money back for the work we had done?

    STDFR33: There might be some expenditure that is allowable, but doesn't actually say what expenses have been incurred, nor do you say what the business is - sold trader, partnership, company?

    Tony84: You are likely in breach of your mortgage terms. If they found out I am pretty sure they would call in the loan or at the very least give you 30 days to remove the business from the premises. I do not mean to be the voice of doom and gloom, but best to find out now rather than if/when you make a claim.

    UK Contractor Accountant: Never wise to say the rooms are used exclusively for business!  I am sure the OP uses the rooms in the evening for private use as well, even if it's just to go in there and read a book.

    Have a lovely weekend everyone!