Fresh Threads: Bookkeeping, liability and game theory

  1. Kat Haylock

    Kat Haylock Community Editor Staff Member

    440 198
    4 |

    Hi UKBFers,

    Welcome to Fresh Threads, our weekly roundup of the best comments and advice from the forums. 

    Here's my pick of threads this week:

    1. Can an employee be liable rather than the company?

    DariusCool, Employment & HR

    If an employee doesn’t carry out work as instructed and trained, and consequently causes damage, can they be held liable for any costs?

    As DariusCool says, his business carries out repairs and they are looking for ways to protect the company from possible claims about inadequate work.

    Paul Norman: I suspect there may be some differences here based on whether or not the business is a limited company, and whether or not the employee is breaking the law at the time they cause the loss or damage. In the ordinary course of events, however, the company would be responsible for any actions that meant its contract with a customer were not fulfilled, or if the negligence of its employees caused loss or damage. It is certainly something for which it would be wise to carry insurance.

    Obscure: They can be liable to you, but you would still be liable to the client. You can't just tell the client to sue the employee, as the client's contract is with you and you are liable for the performance of that contract.

    Newchodge: Legally, the employer is vicariously liable for all acts of the employee during the course of their employment, and sometimes outside of it, unless it can be shown that the act of the employee was so extreme that they could not possibly be considered to be acting in the course of their employment.

    2. Game theory (or how banning tobacco advertising benefited tobacco companies)

    Ashley_Price, General Business

    Inspired by a QI clip, Ashley raises a point about game theory, the study of 'mathematical models of strategic interaction between rational decision makers'. It’s been applied to a number of different areas in the past, but Stephen Fry uses the following example:

    “If two companies both advertise a similar product, then they basically spend a lot of money advertising only to cancel each other out. However, if neither advertises, then the market stays the same. Therefore, when tobacco advertising was banned, it was actually to the benefit of the tobacco companies, because they saved all the money that they had basically been wasting on advertising.”

    Could it be to the benefit of you and your competitors not to advertise?

    mattk: Presumably, the above only holds true if the purpose of marketing is to convince you to smoke one brand rather than another and not to encourage you to smoke in the first place?

    Paul Murray: I'd be curious to see research about cigarette buying habits before and after the advertising ban. I wonder how new smokers picked a brand when they weren't advertised? Presumably a mixture of cost and exposure to the brand, much like my teenage experience?

    atmosbob: Surely this depends on how good the advertising is. If one company makes an ad which doesn't connect with their target audience and another connects very well, there is a difference.

    3. Supporting an employee diagnosed with schizophrenia

    bwills34, Employment & HR

    “I'm looking for some help and advice on how I should assist a colleague who has just received a schizophrenia diagnosis,” bwills34 says. “They've asked for a meeting with me tomorrow to discuss it properly. I'm currently swotting up as it's an illness I really have no knowledge on.”

    obscure: Don't rush into agreeing to anything. You obviously want to support them, but you need to do that based on knowledge. If you don't have a fully stocked HR department, you may well need to talk to an external HR consultant.

    Anon377593: Start by reassuring your colleague that they are speaking to you in confidence, and that you genuinely want to support them. Let them lead the discussion and encourage them to be open with you as and when appropriate. Ask them what they think would help – this could be as simple as a change of seating, or they wish to change their hours and you might need to consider this. Are they taking medication and do they need support with this? For example, if it’s injections do they need a private space to administer them?

    Be aware that they may need ongoing time off for medical appointments. You need to support this as much as you are able to, and they need to be reasonable too. Keep the discussion relaxed and informal. Follow up with an email ‘action plan’ and a review date (six weeks or so).

    4. Hiring someone on a freelance basis to assist with admin?

    K0608, General Business

    K0608 is considering hiring someone to help out with admin. Their responsibilities would include dealing with enquiries, bookkeeping and communicating with other freelance staff.

    Hiring someone for a few hours a day would significantly reduce K0608’s workload, and help them to focus on elements of the business they actually enjoy.

    Does this sound reasonable, and is there anything that K0608 should bear in mind?

    Cube Digital: Here is another thought: hire a bookkeeper for a few hours only one day a week and get everyone used to the idea that you pay on that one day each week. This person can look after bookkeeping and payments.

    Obscure: Don't confuse "part-time" and "freelance". Just because you only want someone occasionally that doesn't mean they are freelance. The nature of/way they work will decide if they are freelance or an employee. 

    Tony84: Why not draw up a list of jobs, work out how many hours it will take them (not you) and then work out what you need? As someone else suggested, can you have a bookkeeper come in once a month and do the same work every month? An administrator who will do the same things each week?

    Do you want them employed by you or do you want to outsource it? It sounds like you are just merging lots of little bits into one job with no real job security (ie 10 hours a week, but could be less or more depending on how you see fit), no real job description (whatever crops up, they can have) and so on.

    That's all for this week have a great weekend!

  2. Furqan721

    Furqan721 UKBF Contributor Full Member

    52 3
    Thank You for sharing this stuff!
    Posted: May 16, 2018 By: Furqan721 Member since: Feb 26, 2018
  3. Salifuj

    Salifuj UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    24 1
    After all said and done, not all businesses or websites need to worry about it. Most small businesses will not be affected right?
    Posted: May 30, 2018 By: Salifuj Member since: Oct 7, 2016