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Accountancy, tax and dancing for money

Who says accountancy and tax are boring? This week, my eye was drawn to a tax case that has some relevance to GPs - in a strange kind of way.

Nadine Quashie was a lapdancer at Stringfellows, and was subsequently dismissed. She had been treated as self employed, and had prepared accounts on that basis, but now brought an action saying that in reality she had been employed all along and was therefore entitled to compensation for unfair dismissal. The case (Quashie v Stringfellows) was heard to establish whether she was employed or self employed. The case has its sordid details, but in his summary the judge said that "On each night she attended, she was obliged to work as directed by the management… if she did not provide free dances or other duties, she could be fined… she could not refuse."

Accordingly, the level of control and the mutual obligations were such that the judge overturned a previous decision and decided that Ms Quashie was employed allowing her to proceed with her claim.

And the lessons to be learned by GPs? Well, the level of control that GPs exert over their locums could make the difference in deciding whether a locum is employed or self employed. It does seem useful these days to have an agreement with the locum allowing the locum to appoint a substitute to replace them if they were unable or unwilling to work a session. As you can see from the above case, the power for a locum to appoint a substitute reduces the level of control and the mutual obligations leans towards self employment.

I have mentioned this to some clients and they are concerned the locum might find an unsuitable substitute, but I think it would be acceptable if the practice had a list of locums they felt were appropriate, and a locum working in the practice could choose a substitute from the list if it proved necessary.

On an entirely separate note, I visited a client last week who brought up the problem of an old bank account into which some fees had incorrectly been paid. The problem was that the signatories to the account had retired or disappeared, and without all the signatories the funds could not be released. They had asked the bank to transfer the money but of course they refused, and they are left with an account in credit without the ability to use the money – and to rub salt in the wound, that they will have to pay tax on the income.

A week in the fast lane of accountancy and tax.  Phew!

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