Commissioner to crack down on late payments

The newly appointed Small Business Commissioner is to spearhead a national effort to crack down on late payment of invoices – which causes thousands of small businesses to close every year.

Former journalist Liz Barclay will be the first woman to hold the position, which was created in 2016 to help small businesses secure the payments owed to them and to galvanise UK businesses behind a new culture of prompt payment.

Over £23.4 billion is owed in outstanding invoices to UK businesses.

Barclay said: “We need a real culture change around business payments in the UK to take pressure off our phenomenal entrepreneurs. People who have already delivered goods and services have to be able to turn their attention to their next client and next order rather than chasing The Court of Appeal has confirmed that an employer could be justified in not re-engaging an unfairly dismissed employee if it had a rational belief that he
could not carry out the duties required in a new role or if there had been a genuine breakdown of trust.

The case involved Mr Scott Kelly, who had been Group Marketing Director of the PGA European Tour for many years until it decided he was not capable of fulfilling the role it wished him to perform and dismissed him.

An employment tribunal rejected his claim of age discrimination, but PGA conceded that the dismissal had been

Kelly sought reinstatement in his old job or, alternatively, re-engagement to the role of Commercial Director, China.

The tribunal found that his old role had been substantially replaced by a different role and had effectively ceased to exist.

PGA objected to re-engaging him in the China role on the basis that it did not believe him capable of it; he did not satisfy an essential requirement of the role, to speak, write and read Mandarin, and because of a perceived breakdown in trust and confidence.

The tribunal determined that his willingness to learn Mandarin, and his proficiency in languages, meant that it was practicable for him to be re-engaged in the China role. It found that the issue of trust and confidence arising from doubts about his capability and integrity up late payments and worrying about their cashflow.

“I know from personal experience how damaging that can be to mental and emotional health. By working with
businesses and ensuring their concerns are listened to, I hope to be able to deliver a payment regime that keeps
cash flowing and works for everyone.”

Barclay’s term as Small Business Commissioner begins on 1 July when she replaces current interim Commissioner, Philip King.

Last year, the government consulted on new powers for the Commissioner, including the power to order payments, levy fines and open investigations based on third-party information. The responses
to the consultation and further proposals will be published later this year.

Barclay is a small business and consumer affairs broadcaster. She works with boards and small businesses on
improving governance, trust and culture, diversity, and understanding customer behaviour.

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