preschool committee

(7 Posts)
16queen Wed 05-Mar-14 20:04:24

Hello PLEASE HELP!! our current committee has tried to reign, we held an EGM and that didnt go according to plan so we have been closed since Christmas. The chairperson has refused to respond or help with anything and is now saying that as she resigned at the EGM she is no longer the employer or responsible for winding up / redundancy etc? Our poor treasurer is so stressed its making her ill as no one is helping her and the chair is not cooperating at all?

I thought that in the event that a setting closed, the last remaining elected committee was responsible, regardless of the fact that they wanted to stand down? They had to close everything down/sell off assets etc before it could be finalised?

lljkk Wed 05-Mar-14 20:23:34

Are you members of the Preschool Learning Alliance?
The truth is that it's very hard for anyone to truly be held responsible, but it's nice if you can close it down properly. What about the staff? What's their situation? All found other jobs by now?

16queen Wed 05-Mar-14 20:41:03

I am the manager, we are on paid leave but I dont think we will get paid this month as there is little money left. We are all waiting to be made redundant but no idea how that can be done either if our employer is saying she is not responsible or liable, We are members of the PLA so will contact them tomorrow and I have emailed our local council and the charity commission but not had replies from anyone! Lawcall wont help as they say we have to contact via our employer (committee chair) but she is not responding at all. No idea what to do

ChutesTooNarrow Wed 05-Mar-14 21:08:03

I've never had lawcall check who was calling beyond quoting the pla membership number? Can you try again?

I would second the advice to contact the pla. If the chair won't cooperate then at least they could support you and the treasurer. Do you have a early years advisor to contact from the council?

I would have thought cooperating was in the chairs best interest though, as the committee would possibly be liable for shortfall in redundancy.

Karoleann Wed 05-Mar-14 21:15:19

You need a copy of the constitution, which you can either get from the secretary or the charities commission will have a copy.
This will tell you who is responsible. It is very likely to be the trustees rather than the chair (unless they are the same person). It will also give you the details of how to wind up the pre-school.
It is also very possible that you are not members of the PLA (our pre-school isn't).

16queen Wed 05-Mar-14 22:16:23

Hi I have a copy of the constitution and the chair & treasurer are actually the trustees of the charity that are listed on the charity commission website so are indeed liable but if the chair doesnt respond and is refusing to cooperate or acknowledge her responsibility then I cant see how it can be enforced except via court / legal route. I am going to contact thew PLA, ACAS and the charity commission tomorrow for further advice.

this is what I have found so far :

For your information:

As the last elected committee chair you cannot resign without someone else taking your place. In the event that this does not happen you are responsible for winding up the setting including employment issues.

It remains YOUR responsibility. As committee YOU collectively also hold financial liability if anything is

done wrong and there ends up as any comeback (being sued/ fines). Anyone who has ever been on the

committee is still liable if it's something that they did or something that happened when there were involved.

Employees

Employees will be entitled to receive payment during their notice period, and may be entitled to redundancy pay, as detailed in the terms of their contract. Trustees of a charity are legally responsible for ensuring these payments are met. A redundancy calculator is given on the Business Link website www.businesslink.gov.uk. Lawcall, the free legal helpline for members of the Alliance, can provide advice to the trustees on all employment matters. Contact details for Lawcall are given on your Alliance membership card. This service is only available to you while your membership with the Alliance is active.

Dissolution

Where closure is the only option it is important to carry out the following procedures, to ensure that
you fulfil your legal responsibilities and that the closure is carried out with the least disruption to the
children, families, staff, trustees and local community. A decision to dissolve does not necessarily
mean that the group could not continue in another form, however, we will come onto that later.

To dissolve the charity it must be voted on by all members of the charity, not just the trustees.
An extraordinary general meeting should be called, giving at least two week’s notice and advising members of the vote with a brief explanation for the decision. Prior to the meeting, accounts should be prepared clearly showing any outstanding debts. The meeting must be quorate (the minimum number of members are present as detailed in the constitution).

Following a detailed explanation of the reason for calling the meeting, a formal proposal to terminate the existence of the charity (with effect from a certain date) should be put to a vote. At least two thirds of the members present and voting at the meeting must then vote in favour of dissolving the charity to make the final decision to close.

If agreed, the trustees should proceed with the formal winding up of the charity as

detailed in the constitution. The responsibility of the dissolution of the charity lies with the

remaining, or last known, trustees until such time as the dissolution is complete.

I would like to draw your attention to the information held on the charity commission website

http://www.charitycommission.gov.uk/find-charities/ which clearly states that you are still listed as a

trustee and are legally obligated to 'Trustees of an unincorporated charity can only be indemnified out

of the assets of the charity if there are sufficient assets to cover their debts. Therefore, if a charity

continues to incur costs to the extent that its liabilities outweigh its assets, the trustees may

be personally liable for the charity's debts regardless of whether they have

acted prudently' http://www.charitycommission.gov.uk/media/95417/rs6text.pdf

Employment laws
Charities that employ people must be aware of and comply with employment laws, including paying the minimum wage and health and safety. Charities that work with children or vulnerable adults will need to take additional steps to protect their beneficiaries including employing people, protecting children, payroll & pensions.

In a nutshell this means that trustee of an unincorporated charity they are personally liable for the charity, whether or not they are involved in the management of it directly. Basically you have the have the same legal obligations to act responsibly and in a fair manner towards the staff.

In this case the situation is unincorporated - as trustees you have taken on the responsibility for the charity in law - in effect you are the charity and not the name you go by. So if there are debts to pay, the first port of call is you and your assets - either individually and /or together as trustees. So if you have three trustees they can be sued for the debt, but if two have no assets then the creditor can go after the third one's assets and take the whole debt from their assets.

So yes, the staff would, if you failed to pay them their redundancy payments, have to go to a tribunal after you as trustees. I would bet they don't want to do this, but they may have little option. Because if and when they apply for any means tested benefit, whether or not they need it immediately, they will be asked what happened to their redundancy money. If it is below a certain threshold, then it isn't counted for benefits - but the benefits people will want to know where it is. And if they have not had it, and they have done nothing to recover it, it may be treated as "available income" and result in a loss of benefit. The same sort of thing can happen if you have money tied up in certain types of accounts where you have saved it but cannot take it out until a pre-agreed date - it still counts as available money.

So, they staff may find that whatever their personal feelings are, they have no choice but to pursue the money owed. That is, as I said, a case against the trustees. If they win (and they assuredly would) and you fail to pay, then the debt collectors come around to your "place" to try to get the debt. www.moneysavingexpert.com

lljkk Thu 06-Mar-14 18:42:17

I think you'll be hard pressed to get blood out of that stone.
Sorry you're going thru this. I know I would hand in notice & move on.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now