Caught on film

I work in a hotel, which in the last few months and for a variety of reasons, has taken to installing covert CCTV cameras in order to monitor and video the activities of staff at work.  Surely covert CCTV monitoring is an infringement of our human rights?  MB

You could certainly argue that covert CCTV monitoring is contrary to the spirit of the human rights legislation.  However, there are also potential data protection issues as regards monitoring employees and retaining personal data.

Employers are advised to comply with the Employment Practices Data Protection Code on monitoring employees.  Although the code isn’t legally binding, failure to comply with it could ultimately lead to a breach of the Data Protection Act, with the company being found guilty of a criminal offence and fined.  If you feel your employer is monitoring you unfairly you can complain to the Information Commissioner.

Finally, the installation of cameras and monitoring of employees is also a contractual matter between staff and employer.  A wise employer would discuss surveillance with employees and keep the cameras in open view if he or she wished to use the information gained from them.

Almost a gift

If my wife and I opened joint bank or building society accounts with our children or grandchildren and put in the amount by which our assets exceed the inheritance tax threshold, would the money escape tax at 40 per cent?  SM

No.  You actually have to part with the money and survive for seven years after making the gift for it to escape inheritance tax.  Since you would still have access to the money in the joint accounts it would be regarded as a gift made ‘with reservation’ and be reckoned part of your estate for Inheritance Tax purposes.  See a solicitor specialising in financial planning for detailed advice.