As an employer, about 3 years ago I received my first court liability order from the local council. This informed me that I was now liable under law for the ongoing processing of an Attachment to Earnings Order for council tax, on behalf of one of my employees.
The employee had not paid her council tax and it was now my responsibility, as ordered by the court, to pay it on her behalf, out of her earnings.
I forwarded the relevant paperwork to my accountants, who performed the necessary calculation each month during payroll, to work out what percentage of income should be sent to the council and, since the council can only accept cheque payments which have to contain the reference, name and address of the individual, each month I dutifully wrote out a cheque, put the reference details on the reverse side, addressed and stamped an envelope and recorded the payment details, ensuring it was posted in good time to make the cut-off date so I wouldn’t get fined.
Oh, and by the way, on enquiring I was told I could claim expenses for all this effort – £1 !!!!!
A month ago, we finished paying the amount outstanding. Recently, the employee left the company.
Yesterday, I received a formal notification from the council that “According to their records they have, to date, received no payments against the Attachment of Earnings Order in respect of this employee.”
The letter reminded me that failure to comply with an Attachment of Earnings Order could lead to a fine of up to £1,000 plus any costs incurred in court actions.
I phoned the contact number on the letter and was told to send in proof of all the payments we have made. I pointed out to them that they had a record of all these payments and that they had processed the cheques.
They agreed with this (and could see them on the employee’s council tax account!) but still wanted me to prove that I had made payments! I was advised that it was up to me whether I decided to comply with a reasonable request or not – and how this might be viewed in any subsequent investigation.
With the benefit of a good night’s sleep, I have now calmed down, a bit.
I sent an email notifying the council of the employee’s date of leaving the company and telling them that I have neither the time or inclination to send them details of payments I have made.
So now I sit here waiting for someone to come and arrest me!