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Equine Jobs with Accommodation

Equine Jobs with Accommodation: myths, facts and the law

by Kelly Wallace Horne

Equine Jobs with Accommodation - live in horse jobsThe team at The Grooms List by Caroline Carter Recruitment speak to employers and job seekers all the time who are totally clued up about what their entitlements and responsibilities are in relation to horsey job vacancies where accommodation is on offer. When everyone is clued up it is, more often than not, a mutually beneficial arrangement where again, that all important win:win dynamic can make everyone’s life better BUT we do come across even more employers and job seekers who have less of an understanding concerning the legal and tax ins and outs of the matter.

As a Recruitment Agency, we take our responsibilities here very seriously and, if necessary, Caroline “gets involved” and tries to ensure all parties are aware of the consequences of consciously or unconsciously getting it wrong, and will try to steer them to the right specialists. If things do hit the fan, it can be financially catastrophic for employers and can leave employees labouring for years on miserably low wages that amount to little more than “pin money” at best!

 

The provision of accommodation with an equine job can be a grey area for both employers and employees, with so many varying arrangements from yard to yard and job role to job role. Get it wrong and:

  • At the very least an employer struggles to find and keep staff
  • The employee loses out on their salary entitlement
  • Worst case scenario, the employer and employee find themselves in very hot water

 

Here I will attempt to put a complex matter into as simple terms as possible, regarding the provision of accommodation with a job, based on situations regularly seen within the equine industry. By outlining:

  • The myths
  • The facts
  • The law

This article aims to provide basic guidelines but is in no way exhaustive – if you are in doubt about the provision of accommodation with your job it is strongly advisable that take a look at https://www.gov.uk/national-minimum-wage-accommodation or that you speak to the Equestrian Employers Association (EEA), your accountant, an employment or tax lawyer or, at the very last resort, HMRC or ACAS. Once you have clarity we would generally recommend in the first instance you feedback the details to your employer or employee and give them an opportunity to remedy the situation. If you are an employee, maybe encourage your boss to take proper advise going forward so that they can better safeguard themselves on all such matters .

 

The consequences of not playing it straight

It may seem a huge faff working out the National Minimum/Living Wage with Accommodation Offset Rates and other benefits which may be costly to the employer but the bottom line is, it’s the law. Just because the equine industry has functioned for years by offering yard staff “all-in-one” salary packages doesn’t mean it is exempt from these laws today. If you are an employee taking a new job, or an employer taking on a new employee, have a read of our article How to negotiate a salary in the equine industry, and make sure both parties are clear on their obligations and agreements before an employment contract is finalised.

 

The provision of accommodation with an equine job

 

Equine Jobs with Accommodation - Live in jobs with horses

The Myth:

“I am providing/receiving accommodation as part of the job so the salary package can merely be topped up with a take-home wage. £200 a week on top of decent accommodation with bills paid and livery for a horse is a good deal.”

 

 

The Fact:

It is not possible to discuss equine jobs with accommodation without first touching upon salary additions and bonuses. As we discussed in our article Equine Careers: Taking a Horse and pets to a new job, the equine industry presents a somewhat rare opportunity for employees to bring to and/or keep their pets, including horses, at their place of employment. It seems entirely logical for grooms to be offered a salary package which includes accommodation, livery for a horse (or even two), riding lessons, utility bills paid, WIFI and even SKY/Cable TV. If you were to add up the rental value of the accommodation, the utility bills, the provision of bonuses like WIFI/Sky channels, and the stable space and upkeep of a horse, then factor in an additional £150 a week on top, yes, it might seem like a good salary package – but it isn’t necessarily legal.

The National Minimum Wage is always the starting point when working out wages, regardless of benefits and bonuses that are thrown in, and there are very few circumstances where the National Minimum Wage does not apply. Even if you are providing/receiving a generous overall salary package, the National Minimum Wage still applies. Employers and grooms alike owe it to themselves to ensure they know the score when it comes to salary packages and the law.

 

The National Minimum Wage refers to all employees 24> years of age.
The National Living Wage refers to employees 25< years of age.

 

The Law:

Employers providing accommodation can legally apply ‘Accommodation Offset Rates’ to the National Minimum/Living Wage, but that is all.

It doesn’t matter what the rental value of the property is, how recently it was refurbished, or whether the employee houses a menagerie of animals in there, the law states clearly that employers can only deduct the Accommodation Offset Rate from the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage.  From 1st April 2020, the offset rate is £8.20 a day/£57.40 per week, which applies to every day that free accommodation is provided, not every day the employee works. The NMW rates are reviewed each year by the Low Pay Commission, which makes recommendations for change to the Government. Every year, from 1st April, the National Minimum and Living Wage rises, and the Accommodation Offset Rate rises too.

 

National Minimum/Living Wage Rates

Equine Jobs with Accommodation - working out a salary package

April 2020 – March 2021

Apprentice: £4.15 per hour

Under 18: £4.55 per hour

18-20: £6.45 per hour

21-24: £8.20 per hour

25 and over: £8.72 per hour

 

For employers, it’s a criminal offence to not pay someone the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage. Employers can read more about ensuring they’re staying legal here.

 

Accommodation Offset Rates

April 2020 – March 2021

£8.20 per day / £57.40 per week

 

Full details on the provision of accommodation with a job and the Accommodation Offset Rate can be found on the Government website here.

When accommodation is included as part of the salary package

Let’s look at the following job description…

Job A

  • 6 day week
  • free accommodation (suitable for a couple/family, has a garden, underfloor heating, and Sky TV etc)
  • bill free – all utility bills are paid
  • free livery for own horse
  • £375 weekly, gross

First of all, as previously mentioned, the single occupancy, garden, underfloor heating, and Sky TV, the utility bills and livery for the horse are NOT deductible from the National Minimum Wage. In terms of the gross salary, a 6 day week (let’s say it is an 8 hour day/48 hour week) with a gross weekly wage of £375 works out to £7.81 an hour. It’s clear to see that this wage is under the National Minimum Wage for everyone 21 years or older for 2020-2021.

If we apply the 2020-2021 Accommodation Offset Rate of £57.40 a week, from a legal perspective the gross hourly wage is increased to £9.00, which is above all National Minimum and Living Wage rates.

In a nutshell, in order to stay within the law this job is legal providing the employee lives in the accommodation (on-site or off-site) that is provided for free by the employer – but not if the employee pays a fee to their employer for the accommodation, sources and pays for their own accommodation, or “lives out” in their family home!

 

Charging employees a fee for accommodation

By law, employers can charge employees as much as they like for work-related accommodation, as long as it doesn’t reduce the employees salary below the National Minimum Wage minus the Accommodation Offset Rate.  Let’s look at the same job again, but this time the employer pays a higher wage but makes deductions for accommodation…

Job B

  • 6 day week
  • accommodation available (suitable for a couple/family, has a garden, underfloor heating, and Sky TV etc) to include bills
  • free livery for own horse
  • £425 weekly, gross minus £50 a week towards the accommodation, should you choose to take it

The increase in salary combined with the £50 weekly charge for accommodation presents the same salary package, it’s just that job A offers a salary package including accommodation, whilst Job B gives the full salary and deducts the accommodation fee from the employee’s wages. Both methods are perfectly legal, providing everything is declared to HMRC by both parties. What an employer can’t do is pay the salary of Job A then deduct a fee for the provision of the accommodation as well.

 

When an employee lives out

If a job is advertised as live in or live out the employee is quite within their rights to choose the live out option, either by sourcing and paying for their own accommodation locally or by living at home with family. In this case, the Accommodation Offset Rate cannot be applied to the National Minimum/Living Wage, even if this means the staff accommodation is sitting empty. As an example, the salary for Job A would be illegal for all employees aged 21 years and older, whereas the salary for Job B would be perfectly legal without the deduction for accommodation. The National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage MUST be adhered to in order to remain legal, so you cannot pay a live out groom the salary that is offset against accommodation for live in employees.

 

Work in return for accommodation

Occasionally we have employers asking us to advertise a part time, full time, or flexi-hours groom vacancy for them with no wage but purely in return for the provision of accommodation. Seems unlikely, yes, but it does happen!

Equine Jobs with Accommodation - the National Minimum Wage Offset Rate

The myth: the employee’s work will fund the families accommodation whilst their partner works full time locally to provide a salary. If the employee works part time or flexi-hours they can supplement their household income by also working part time elsewhere in their free time. The house has a rental value of say £500-£1200 pcm, so this is an agreeable arrangement for a couple or family, and actually can present a profitable employment opportunity for a part time or flexi-hour groom.

The law: This arrangement may seem agreeable on paper but it is actually illegal under employment law. As above, there are very few circumstances in which employees are not entitled to the National Minimum Wage, and this isn’t one of them. The same rules apply as a full time live-in job – the National Minimum/Living Wage and the same Accommodation Offset Rates. Paying utility bills could be a huge grey area – is this included or a chargeable extra?

 

When accommodation is provided only some of the time

Equine Jobs with Accommodation - staying overnight for a job with horsesThe Daily Accommodation Offset Rate allows employers to apply a deduction in lieu of accommodation that is not a permanent provision. As an example, let’s look at an equine job with accommodation provided some of the time…

Job C

  • 5 day week
  • live out
  • some overnight shifts in the foaling season
  • salary: National Minimum Wage

Let’s assume this job is a 40 hour week (7am-1pm / 3.30pm-5.30pm). From April 2020 the gross hourly salary for a 25< year old is £8.72, or £348.80 for a 40 hour week. If during the foaling season the employee regularly lives in from Wednesday to Saturday to foal-watch, the employer is within their rights to deduct £8.20 per day (or night) that the employee inhabits the accommodation. Nothing more. In this instance, the weekly offset rate does not apply, even if no one else uses the accommodation in between times.

 

Equine jobs with accommodation – tax implications

It is the responsibility of both the employer and employee to ensure that they fully understand the tax implications and exemptions regarding the provision of accommodation with a job.

You can find out more about the type of accommodation you do and don’t pay tax on via the Government website here.

Employers can find out more about tax and National Insurance reporting obligations on the Government website here.

When your employer provides you with living accommodation because of your employment, you must include it in your tax return. HMRC provide help sheets for employees filing their self-assessment forms here.

 

As an equine recruitment agency, we believe we can have a role to play in our interaction with employers and employees by making accurate advice and resources easily accessible, in the right way, at the right time. We will not advise in detail in areas we are not experts in but we will refer you to associations and specialists who could help in your case more specifically. If you would like free, friendly, impartial, professional advice as a start point on any aspect of your job hunt or recruitment drive please do contact us.

Get FREE equine recruitment advice

Both employers and jobseekers alike, if you would like free, friendly, no obligation recruitment advice from Caroline please do get in touch!

The content provided in this article is for informational purposes only. It is the responsibility of the individual to ensure that the information they are working to is correct and appropriate for their specific circumstances.

© Caroline Carter Recruitment Ltd and The Grooms List, 2019. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Caroline Carter Recruitment Ltd and www.thegroomslist.co.uk with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Job Description In 1992, Paul Schockemöhle, a successful businessman and former European Show Jumping Champion, purchased a large site in the expanses of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. On no less than 3,000 hectares of land in the heart of the protected landscape of the Lewitz, a centre for modern horse breeding which accommodates 4,000 horses and is unparalleled in Europe has emerged over the years. Around 250 employees look after the well-being of the horses, which are kept in spacious stables and in speciesappropriate herds in the expanses of the Lewitz. As a groom or rider at one of the three riding stables, you are responsible for the training and care of the horses bred by Paul Schockemöhle. Many horses which will later cause a sensation in top level sport go through our hands. The daily routine gives you the opportunity to gather a lot of experiences and impressions in every respect. The fact that a renowned trainer is always available to support you will particularly help you with your personal development. The riding stables entrusted with training the horses are three geographically separated farmsteads under a common organisational umbrella. At each of the individual sites, site managers look after the training of the horses with their teams. A jumping horse trained on the Lewitz stud runs through all three stations chronologically. The second station for training a Lewitz jumping horse, the “Rustica”, is located in the immediate vicinity of the main stud. Under the management of Janek and Melanie Hucz, the young horses take their first jumps under a saddle here.    
Job Description In 1992, Paul Schockemöhle, a successful businessman and former European Show Jumping Champion, purchased a large site in the expanses of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. On no less than 3,000 hectares of land in the heart of the protected landscape of the Lewitz, a centre for modern horse breeding which accommodates 4,000 horses and is unparalleled in Europe has emerged over the years. Around 250 employees look after the well-being of the horses, which are kept in spacious stables and in speciesappropriate herds in the expanses of the Lewitz. The riding stables entrusted with training the horses are three geographically separated farmsteads under a common organisational umbrella. At each of the individual sites, site managers look after the training of the horses with their teams. A jumping horse trained on the Lewitz stud runs through all three stations chronologically. The “Stern-Buchholz” site is outside the gates of the state capital Schwerin. The team headed by Birgit Brandsätter and Paulo Castro here is responsible for breaking in all the horses, as well as for the further training of the dressage horses and the preparation of the colts for licensing.   Accommodation details The stud’s own apartments, modern and practically furnished, give you affordable living space near your place of work and make it easier for you to form and strengthen social relationships even after you finish work. On request, you will be served breakfast and lunch in the stud’s own canteens.   Benefits Of course, we will help you with all the administrative issues which come up at the beginning, provide you with translating assistance during doctor’s visits if necessary and help you with anything else that you need. We will do everything to make your stay as pleasant as possible for you.  
*Dog welcomed *Own horse considered *Flexible accommodation options (shared/with partner/sole) *Fair remuneration Business man and former European Champion has set up an amazing centre of modern horse breeding “unique” in Europe. The facilities comprise 3,000 hectare (30,000,000 sqm)land in total,spacious stables,large run-in stables and horse-appropriate group-housing for the approx. 4000 horses. A constantly progressing health management and the stud-owned vet clinic provide the perfect care for the horses.These are best prerequisites to guarantee breeding and training at the highest possible professional level. Almost 200 employees, among them 14 vets, are work around the clock for the benefit of the animals and ensure perfect conditions for the approx. 700 foals that are born every year. As a groom at one of the three riding stables, you are responsible for the training and care of the horses bred by Paul Schockemöhle. Many horses which will later cause a sensation in top level sport go through our hands. The daily routine gives you the opportunity to gather a lot of experiences and impressions in every respect. The fact that a renowned trainer is always available to support you will particularly help you with your personal development.
*Own horse a possibility * Very experienced Yard manager based on site *Fabulous facilities Job Description We are looking for a friendly, hard working individual to join our team at our busy yard just outside of Tonbridge in Kent. The candidate will be happy to assist in all yard duties including turning out, mucking out, catching in, etc.  An eye of detail and a tidy yard attitude is a must. You will need to be self driven, ensuring all duties are carried out meticulously.  We run a very reputable livery business and our reputation is important to us. Minimum Requirements Previous experience necessary   Accommodation details     Benefits    
Job Description *Upwards of £500pw depending on experience + pool money & bonuses paid *Friendly working atmosphere *Pets welcomed *Accommodation available/partner could be accommodated National Hunt  yard looking to recruit Riders and or Rider:Grooms for upcoming season. Friendly working atmosphere and fabulous location with the best of facilities. Minimum Requirements You can be from any discipline but must be confident in handling and riding TB’s. Confident and  previous experience riding out would be preferred but if plenty of riding experience in other disciplines this would also have its advantages. Accommodation details On site accommodation options single/shared/with partner 🙂 Caroline’s comments 🙂 This is a fabulous opportunity for competent and capable riders to get a lot of saddle time on a professional yard with quality horses and be very well remunerated and looked after as part of a professional Team. Great opportunity to experience another discipline or to put your existing experience into good use.   Please call Caroline & the Team on 0203 006 5730 or email info@carolinecarterrecruitment.com
  *Up to £450 pw negotiable depending on experience * Partner welcomed * Dog welcomed European champion Young Rider competing with Team GB and who has won 7 European medals is now looking for an experienced Groom/Exercise Rider with professional standards to work on the family yard. Must turn out to 4* and be capable of sole charge when required but understand the team dynamic of a family situation. HGV helpful but could be put through test. Affable personality is essential for this private and happy yard and a shared enthusiasm for eventing at the highest levels is probably essential! 10 polo ponies kept in winter/minimal duties. Professional facilities/x country course/great hacking.2000 acre farm stunning cross country course.   Please contact Caroline & The Grooms List Team, quoting reference code JL58861 on 0203 006 5730 or email info@carolinecarterrecruitment.com      
Salary 8.5 Euros/negotiable dependent on experience with no food/accommodation or utilities to pay. You will need some experience grooming competition horses One of the Most Professional SJ yards in the world – Learn your trade with the best and secure your Grooming future with a hands on job. All you need is a passport and an adventurous spirit! Enthusiasm and dedication to work along side the best horses, riders and horse people.This opportunity would be GREAT FUN and a second to none experience which would guarantee your career anywhere you chose in the future both home and abroad. A rare insight into world class horses, world class facilities and a truly remarkable experience for any groom seriously interested in getting to the top of their game. Whilst there are considerable opportunities for advancement and promotion possibilities if you wish to remain in Germany. 🙂 Caroline’s comments 🙂 This is a commercial environment where the opportunity to learn is awesome but not for anyone who gets homesick or doesn’t feel comfortable in the commercial end of the horse world. The horses you will encounter are world class and it will certainly add to the breadth and depth of anyone’s experience. Fast paced and exciting in so many ways. A real ‘one off experience’ to add to the CV!    Please call Caroline on 0203 006 5730 or email info@carolinecarterrecruitment.com
*Salary IRO 1800 euros *All accommodation and food provided *Seasonal position with far reaching CV improving benefits! This world class service station and stud is looking for experienced stud hands for the forthcoming season to be based in Muhlen, Germany. Some prior experience important as some serious unmatched warmblood breeding stock is involved in this operation names such as  Balou du Rouet, whose offspring’s prize money makes millions plus Sandro Hit plus stallions Fürstenball, Vivaldi, Bordeaux, Foundation, Vitalis, Sir Donnerhall I and Diarado were amongst the leading group of all German stallions according to the German FN’s 2016 predicted breeding value statistics. Last year stallions from Mühlen once again dominated the Oldenburg Elite Mare show and of the twelve mares presented, seven of them were daughters of this yard’s stallions, including the winner Candy OLD by Sir Donnerhall I. The list goes on and on and on! 🙂 🙂 Caroline’s comments 🙂 This is a commercial environment where the opportunity to learn is awesome but not for anyone who gets homesick or doesn’t feel comfortable in the commercial end of the horse world. The horses you will encounter are world class and it will certainly add to the breadth and depth of anyone’s experience. Fast paced and exciting in so many ways. A real ‘one off experience’ to add to the CV!    Please call Caroline on 0203 006 5730 or email info@carolinecarterrecruitment.com  

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Caroline Carter Recruitment Ltd
The Stables
Fildyke Road
Meppershall
Bedfordshire
SG17 5LU

caroline@carolinecarterrecruitment.com
0203 006 5730 / 07747 686 118

Registered company number 10657796good site
Caroline Carter Recruitment Ltd is registered with the UK Information Commissioner as a data controller with registered number ZA250621

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