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Tozers parklaw newsletter – summer 2015
Are your agreements good enough?
Consumer protection law is changing and your contracts may need to change as well.
The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 now require park owners to include specific information within certain contracts such as a sales agreement for a holiday caravan.
The Consumer Protection (Amendment) Regulations 2014 give consumers additional rights if they have been subject to misleading (or aggressive) practices.
And in October the Consumer Rights Act 2015 will give consumers new rights if any goods or services are unsatisfactory.
All park owners should avoid unpleasant surprises by ensuring their contracts have been updated for these changes. We can help you do this.
Are your holiday park website booking terms enforceable?
If you haven’t looked at your booking terms for a while then now is the time. The Consumer Rights Act 2015 will not only create new rights for consumers to claim refunds and challenge contract terms but also give new powers to local authorities and Trading Standards to enforce the law. For a fixed fee we can provide your park with booking terms that protect you as far as possible without overstepping the mark. We make sure that they deal effectively with:
- retaining deposits for non-payment or damage to the park
- your obligation to provide a refund in the event a customer cancels
- making sure customers comply with park rules
- removing customers engaging in anti-social behaviour.
Changes to consumer credit – a recurring theme
We have seen an increase in enquiries about allowing holiday homeowners to pay their pitch fees in instalments. The Government has now made a change which should help parks.
Previously, any arrangement permitting payment of an annual fee by more than 4 instalments was likely to be consumer credit regulated. This might make the arrangement unenforceable if the correct formalities were not observed.
The new law exempts arrangements providing there are no more than 12 instalments and no interest is charged. However, it only covers agreements entered into after 18 March 2015.
Parks which offer early payment discounts may still find their agreements are regulated. We can offer advice about your particular circumstances.
Residential parks – who has inherited the Agreement?
If a family member is living with the homeowner in the mobile home as their only or main residence when the homeowner dies, they are likely to inherit the Mobile Homes Act Agreement even if a Will says otherwise. No procedural formalities will apply although it is advisable to ask for some evidence of entitlement.
In other cases the terms of any Will or the law on intestacy may need to be considered. The law on intestacy sets out who should inherit if there is no Will.
We can advise you on the steps to take to find out who has inherited the Agreement and what you can do if they have not complied with the terms of the Agreement.
What are your liabilities for pregnant employees on seasonal contracts?
Holiday park owners across the country have taken on their teams for the busy summer season. But what should you do if one of your employees is pregnant and will not be available for the time they have agreed to work?
Revoking an offer of employment or dismissing could result in you facing a discrimination claim based on her pregnancy.
The first thing that you should do is to undertake a risk assessment. Reviews should be undertaken periodically throughout her employment, especially if her job changes at all or if she raises any concerns. If you identify any risks then you should attempt to reduce these by giving her lighter duties. If this is not possible, then you should try and give her other work and in the alternative you may need to suspend her on full pay.
Maternity leave is an absolute right for qualifying employees. She will be entitled to take up to 52 weeks.
Maternity pay is only payable for employees who have been working for you for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth. Maternity pay runs for up to 39 weeks. In most cases, due to the seasonal nature of the job, employees are likely not to have the required service to claim maternity pay and will instead have to apply for maternity allowance from HMRC.
Where an employee qualifies for maternity pay, you will have to pay maternity pay for the full period of her entitlement. This may mean you have to keep paying maternity pay even if she leaves your employment (but remember you can recover this from HMRC).
We can help you with advice on individual circumstances or generally to ensure you comply with the current legislation.
Further parklaw advice
If these issues could affect you and you want advice please contact the parks team on 01392 207020 or email email@example.com