Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Deregulation Ninth Report

Further letter to the House of Commons Deregulation Committee

Further to your letter of 16 February, I have endeavoured to pull together some information, which will hopefully address the Committee's concerns with regard to certain transportation and employment issues.

Provision of Safe Transport Home

The Trades Union Congress was quite right to point out the need for nightclubs to ensure safe transport home for nightclub employees, particularly for women, at times when there will be little or no public transport. This is not a new issue for the late night entertainment industry. A typical nightclub will trade until 2am or 3am three or four nights a week, requiring employees to travel home after local transport has ended. The industry has responded to this by developing standard practices to ensure employees can get home safely. For example, some venues will run taxi pools or offer company minibuses:

    "Each night we trade, the duty manager will ask the staff who needs to travel where after the club closes for the evening. He will then either arrange taxis or run them home himself in the club's minibus." - John Hayes, Garbo's, Scunthorpe

All the major late night entertainment companies have developed policies to ensure this matter is handled responsibly. A sample policy used by one of the industry's leading corporates has been included with this letter (see Appendix A).

Incorporation of the Provision of Safe Transport Home into the Code of Conduct

The BEDA 'Sunday Working' Code of Conduct was developed in recognition that individual employees should be able to exercise a choice over whether or not they work on Sundays. BEDA is committed to providing protection t such individuals. Baker Mackenzie, the employment solicitors employed by BEDA to prepare the Code have informed us that in their opinion, the very specific nature of the Code means it would be inappropriate to add a clause on a separate matter. Particularly the provision of late transport which is an issue for nightclubs every night they trade (see Appendix B).

It is BEDA's view therefore that we cannot use the Code for this matter. We hope the Committee will recognise that this is not an issue that our industry takes lightly. In fact it is an issue our members have dealt with responsibly for a number of years. Our aim is to ensure that the policies and practices currently employed on, for example, a Saturday are carried over to a Sunday (see Appendix A).

Policing of the Code of Conduct

BEDA members have already voted to accept the Code of Conduct. Should the Deregulation Order become law, this will be ratified at our next Annual General meeting. All BEDA members will receive a copy of the Code of Conduct which they will be expected to discuss with their staff. This should give the Code around 80% coverage of our industry. In addition, BEDA will write to all members making them aware of the need to comply with the code and include repeated references to the Code in all mailshots (around one per month). Non-compliance with the Code will lead to expulsion from the Association.

BEDA will also undertake to publicise the existence of the Code to the industry as a whole through our official magazine, NIGHT, which has a circulation of 12,000. Should any employees of the non-BEDA member clubs have any problems with regard to Sunday Working BEDA will make the provisions of the Code available to them and cover any expenses incurred.

BEDA would like to reassure the committee that employee coercion should not be an issue. A BEDA survey (analysed by the EAG) of 2,257 nightclub industry employees suggested that 69% of respondees would be willing to work on Sunday. This evidence and the fact that the late night industry has traditionally operated flexible and voluntary staffing arrangements for weekend working confirms our belief that there will be a more than adequate supply of employees willing to work on a Sunday.

I hope you find this additional information to be of use. Please do not hesitate to contact me should you require further assistance. May I take this opportunity to once again make clear BEDA's willingness to meet with the Committee to discuss these matters, or any other areas of concern, in person.

Jon Collins, Executive Director, BEDA

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