Legal and governance training and consultancy
for the voluntary sector

Ch.1: Setting up an organisation
Ch.2: Unincorporated organisations
Ch.3: Incorporated organisations
Ch.4: Charitable status, charity law & regulation
Ch.5: The organisation's objects
Ch.6: The organisation's name
Ch.7: The governing document
Ch.8: Registering as a charity
Ch.9: Branches, subsidiaries & group structures
Ch.10: Changing legal form
Ch.11: Collaborative working, partnerships and mergers
Ch.12: Members of the organisation
Ch.13: Members of the governing body
Ch.14: Officers, committees & sub-committees
Ch.15: Duties & powers of the governing body
Ch.16: Restrictions on payments & benefits
Ch.17: The registered office & other premises
Ch.18: Communication & paperwork
Ch.19: Meetings, resolutions & decision making
Ch.20: Assets & agency
Ch.21: Contracts & contract law
Ch.22: Risk & liability
Ch.23: Insurance
Ch.24: Financial difficulties & winding up
Ch.26: Rights, duties & the contract of employment
Ch.27: Model contract of employment
Ch.28: Equal opportunities in employment
Ch.29: Taking on new employees
Ch.30: Pay & pensions
Ch.31: Working time, time off & leave
Ch.32: Rights of parents & carers
Ch.33: Disciplinary matters, grievances & whistleblowing
Ch.34: Termination of employment
Ch.35: Redundancy
Ch.36: Employer-employee relations
Ch.37: Employment claims & settlement
Ch.38: Self employed & other contractors
Ch.39: Volunteers
Ch.40: Health & safety
Ch.41: Safeguarding children & vulnerable adults
Ch.42: Equal opportunities: goods, services & facilities
Ch.43: Data protection & use of information
Ch.44: Intellectual property
Ch.45: Publications, publicity & the internet
Ch.46: Campaigning & political activities
Ch.47: Public events, entertainment & licensing
Ch.48: Funding & fundraising: General rules
Ch.49: Fundraising activities
Ch.50: Tax-effective giving
Ch.51: Trading & social enterprise
Ch.52: Contracts & service agreements
Ch.53: Financial procedures & security
Ch.54: Annual accounts, reports & returns
Ch.55: Auditors & independent examiners
Ch.56: Corporation tax, income tax & capital gains tax
Ch.57: Value added tax
Ch.58: Investment & reserves
Ch.59: Borrowing
Ch.60: Land ownership & tenure
Ch.61: Acquiring & disposing of property
Ch.62: Business leases
Ch.63: Property management & the environment
Ch.64: How the law works
Ch.65: Dispute resolution & litigation

This page contains information that has appeared on Sandy Adirondack's legal update website for voluntary organisations at For current updates, including potential changes that are in the pipeline, see the legal update website.

These websites for each chapter update the 3rd edition of The Russell-Cooke Voluntary Sector Legal Handbook by James Sinclair Taylor and the Charity Team at Russell-Cooke Solicitors, edited by Sandy Adirondack (Directory of Social Change, 2009). The websites are not intended as a comprehensive update and should not be treated as such.

To order a copy of The Russell-Cooke Voluntary Sector Legal Handbook, print out the order form at or send an email order by clicking . It costs £60 for voluntary organisations or £90 for others, plus 10% p&p.

To avoid spamming, an email address is not given on screen. If you can't see the word 'here' or have trouble sending an email by clicking on it, the address is bookservice at, with the spaces and 'at' replaced by the @ symbol.

The information here covers the law applicable to England and Wales. It may not apply in Northern Ireland and/or Scotland. These news items are not a full or definitive statement of the law and are not intended as a substitute for professional legal advice. No responsibility for loss occasioned as a result of any person acting or refraining from acting can be taken by the author.

Chapter 25

The items below formerly appeared on the legal update website for voluntary organisations and are archived here. The content may be out of date and links may not work. For current updates to the chapter, see the legal update website for voluntary organisations at


Added 12/11/13. This information adds a new s.25.7 (Neither employees nor workers) and a new s.25.7.1 (Government work schemes) in The Russell-Cooke Voluntary Sector Legal Handbook (VSLH3).
Both the Department for Work and Pensions and the two jobseekers who had challenged the DWP claimed victory following the supreme court decision on 30 October 2013 in what is colloquially referred to as the Poundland case.

The DWP was pleased that the supreme court said compulsory "work for your benefit" schemes for jobseeker's allowance (JSA) claimants are not forced or compulsory labour, and thus are not in breach of article 4 of the European convention on human rights. Cait Reilly, one of the two JSA claimants who brought the case, said it was a great result that the court had upheld earlier rulings saying that regulations imposing the unpaid work requirement were insufficiently detailed and were therefore invalid.

The case started in autumn 2011 when Reilly, an unemployed geology graduate who was volunteering part-time at a museum in Birmingham because she was interested in a career in museums, was told by her local Jobcentre Plus that she had to attend a four-week "sector-based work academy". It was not made clear to her that this would include two weeks of employability training, plus unpaid work for two weeks at Poundland. When she found out what it involved she told the jobcentre that she did not want to take part as she was already getting work experience at the museum and already had retail experience. She was told that participation was mandatory and her JSA would be reduced or withdrawn if she did not take part.

She took part in the programme, including the Poundland placement, but in January 2012 sought a judicial review of the Jobseeker's Allowance (Employment, Skills and Enterprise Scheme) Regulations 2011. A judicial review was also sought by Jamie Wilson, an unemployed HGV lorry driver who refused to carry out compulsory unpaid work cleaning furniture for up to 30 hours per week for six months under the community action programme, and had his JSA stopped for six months. A judicial review looks at the way a law or decision was made, rather than at the content of the law or decision.

The 2011 regulations, made under s.17A of the Jobseekers Act 1995, allow JSA claimants to be required to carry out work in schemes set up under the regulations — including the sector-based work academy and community action programmes — and to lose JSA if they refuse. But the Jobseekers Act says such schemes are valid only if the regulations include a "prescribed description" of them, and the claimant is given notice of what participation in the scheme will involve and the consequences of failing to participate in the scheme. Reilly's and Wilson's judicial review was based on the fact that the sector-based work academy and community action schemes were not described in the regulations, the two claimants were not given notice as required in the regulations, and Reilly had been subjected to forced or compulsory labour in breach of article 4 of the European convention on human rights (ECHR).

The DWP countered this by saying there is only one scheme — the employment, skills and enterprise scheme — which is adequately described in the regulations, and that programmes such as the work academy and community action programme are part of that scheme and do not need to be separately described in regulations. DWP also, needless to say, claimed that the schemes were not in breach of the ECHR.

The high court ruled on 6 August 2012 that the regulations were valid, and that the requirement for mandatory work did not breach article 4 of the ECHR. It also ruled that because the DWP had failed to provide notice to Reilly and Wilson as required, no sanctions could lawfully be imposed on them for failure to participate in the scheme — but this failure to provide notice did not make it unlawful for the claimants to have been required to participate in the schemes. The high court decision is at

Reilly and Wilson appealed and the DWP cross-appealed. On 12 February 2013, the court of appeal ruled that the 2011 regulations were invalid because they did not include sufficient details about the schemes, and should be quashed. The court also ruled that the notification requirements had not been complied with (because Reilly had not been given notice, and Wilson's notice did not comply with the regulations), and the schemes did not breach article 4 of the ECHR. The court of appeal decision is at

The court of appeal ruling that the regulations were invalid meant that around 230,000 claimants could have been entitled to a total of £130 million compensation for benefit withheld unlawfully. However the government, anticipating the court of appeal ruling, had put in place the Jobseeker’s Allowance (Schemes for Assisting Persons to Obtain Employment) Regulations 2013. These came into force at 6.45pm on 12 February 2013, the same day as the court of appeal handed down its judgment, and provided one-paragraph descriptions of seven existing work for your benefit schemes — day one support for young people, Derbyshire mandatory youth activity programme, full-time training flexibility, new enterprise allowance, sector-based work academy, skills conditionality, and work programme — as well as specifying the nature of the notice that has to be given to claimants. These regulations are at

On 26 March 2013, the same day as the DWP sought permission to appeal, the Jobseekers (Back to Work Schemes) Act 2013 came into effect, having been fast-tracked through Parliament in three days. This retrospectively validated the 2011 regulations, the programmes listed in the 2013 regulations (as well as the community action programme, which was not included in the 2013 regs), notices issued to claimants under the 2011 regulations (provided they referred to one of the schemes and described the potential effect on benefits if the claimant did not participate in the scheme), and benefit sanctions imposed under those regulations in relation to the schemes. Similar provisions were made for mandatory work activity placements which had not fully met the requirements of the Jobseeker's Allowance (Mandatory Work Activity Scheme) Regulations 2011. The 2013 act is at, and the mandatory work activity regulations are at

The mind boggles (or at least mine does) at a government that can put through secondary legislation (regulations) that do not comply with the primary legislation that allows those regulations to be created, then fail even to comply with the requirements in those regulations about what needs to be told to claimants, then reduce or remove benefits for 230,000 claimants who do not take part in schemes which have not been properly described and/or for which the claimants have not been told the implications of not participating — and then pass legislation making it OK that it had never complied with the rules. [Am I missing something here about the way the law is supposed to operate?]

For a thoughtful commentary about the implications of retrospective legislation of this type, see the article by Eric Metcalfe on the Guardian's comment is free website, at

The DWP's decision making guidance, issued after the new legislation came into effect, can be accessed via

The DWP appealed the court of appeal decision to the supreme court, and Reilly and Wilson cross-appealed. The supreme court, in its ruling on 30 October 2013, upheld the court of appeal's ruling that the 2011 regulations had been invalid, but acknowledged that the regulations had by now been retrospectively validated.

In relation to notice about the scheme and the implications of not participating, Reilly had not been given accurate notice so the regulations had not been followed. In Wilson's case, the supreme court found that the notice he was given did not fully comply with the requirements and was therefore invalid.

In considering whether the requirement for compulsory work as a condition of receiving jobseeker's allowance constitutes forced or compulsory work as intended in article 4 of the European convention on human rights, the supreme court said, "The provision of a conditional benefit of that kind comes nowhere close to the type of exploitative conduct at which article 4 is aimed." It also pointed out that three reported cases failed at the European court of human rights, when they attempted to argue that making the payment of state unemployment benefit conditional on work contravened article 4.

So: the DWP claimed a victory because the supreme court confirmed that the requirement for compulsory work as a condition of receiving state benefits does not breach the convention on human rights.

And Reilly and Wilson claimed a victory because the supreme court confirmed that the DWP had acted unlawfully by creating work schemes that were not properly defined as required in the legislation, and by not giving proper information about the schemes to claimants. But it was a fairly hollow victory, given that the government had by then retrospectively legitimised everything it had done wrong.

The supreme court decision in R (Reilly & another) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions is at

After the 2013 act was introduced in March, Public Interest Lawyers, the solicitors who acted for Reilly and Wilson, lodged another judicial review saying that this retrospective legislation undermines human rights. This legal challenge continues.


Added 12/11/13. This information adds a new s.25.7 (Neither employees nor workers) and a new s.25.7.1 (Government work schemes) in The Russell-Cooke Voluntary Sector Legal Handbook (VSLH3).
The rules for some unemployment-related state benefits allow claimants to be required to do unpaid work, with the threat of their benefit being withdrawn if they do not. (Other benefits allow claimants to do unpaid work as a step towards finding work or gaining work experience, but do not withdraw benefit if the claimant does not do it.) Boycott Workfare is a campaigning organisation set up in 2010 to challenge schemes where a state benefit is withdraw if the claimant does not participate in a compulsory work placement. The organisation does not object to work placements, but to those where claimants do not have a say in the placement and lose benefit if they do not take part.

Boycott Workfare has on its website a list of national and local charities, other voluntary organisations, social enterprises, public sector bodies and private businesses which take part in unpaid mandatory work schemes. It encourages people to report other organisations for inclusion on the list. Many former work providers have withdrawn from these schemes, saying they are willing to provide work experience but not where the claimant is under threat of losing their benefits if they do not participate or if they withdraw from their placement after the first week.

The Boycott Workfare website is at


Added 10/10/10. This information updates s.25.5.1 in The Russell-Cooke Voluntary Sector Legal Handbook (VSLH3).
From 1 October 2010 some of the rules for employment agencies and employment businesses (a business which places staff but is not an employment agency) are amended. These include changes to the rules on charging fees and cooling-off periods for work-finding services for performers, entertainers and models; getting prior approval from the work-seeker for any information about the person that will be included in a publication; removal of the obligation to carry out employment checks on individuals seeking permanent employment with employers, unless the employment agency or business is supplying them to work with vulnerable people; and a requirement to indicate in advertisements whether the position is temporary or permanent.

The Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Business (Amendment) Regulations 2010 are at

Business Link has a full summary of the regulations at

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