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Employer refusing to get professional advice

At my wits' end

Didn't find your answer?

My employer is in supersaver mode and is increasingly turning to me for my thoughts on various matters rather than paying for professional advice, particularly in the areas of HR and Employment Law - including redundancy, CJRS and CJSS. Additionally, I've had to push back against attempts to underpay staff or overclaim government grants - I don't get direct requests to breach the rules, but rather I'm presented with dodgy arguments and wilful twisting of the rules to which 'No' is not taken as an answer and subsequent suggestions that we seek external professional advice are resisted.

Professionally, I do not want to be relied upon to to provide opinions in areas beyond my expertise, and ethically I don't want to be anywhere near deliberate breaches of rules and regulations. And I certainly do not want to be associated with any deliberate or knowingly false CJRS or CJSS claims.

I'm at the point of just walking out. Any suggestions - am I just feeling Covid fatigue? I'm guessing you all spend a certain amount of your time pushing back against clients with similar attitudes...

(Edit: yes, most of the pressure is verbal, but it's my name on CJRS claims!)

(Edit 2: regarding my role, I'm happy to provide advice and research these matters, but when pushed out of black & white into grey areas, I'd prefer to take advice from experts)

(Edit 3: apostrophe added to wits)

Replies (50)

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By Paul Crowley
26th Oct 2020 18:12

Would it be the case that employer does not put any of this in writing, or email?
Would it look as if he is innocent and you willfully ignored the rules?

BUT if you email your understanding of his suggestions back to him, explaining why you disagree and suggesting that he gets professional advice, is it likely that you will no longer be employed?

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By Mr_awol
26th Oct 2020 18:22

What is your role?

It may be that, as much as you may not want to be asked these questions, it is under your remit to either answer them or obtain answers. Depending on your qualifications/memberships you might have access to technical advice or even a HR helpline etc. Your employer might have access via FSB or other subs.

Of course the issue then moves on to what you do with that info - I wouldn’t put through anything I thought was dodgy and had confirmed to be so. Sometimes however a genuine difference of opinion arises without a clear cut answer and at that point you need to decide whether to make your representations and accept it’s their decision, or refuse.

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RLI
By lionofludesch
26th Oct 2020 19:00

Tough one. Because you need a job yourself.

I'd certainly be looking for another job. I'd certainly be putting HIS name on the CJRS claims. I'd certainly be collecting evidence of his demands. I wouldn't feel that covert recordings were unethical in these circumstances.

Beyond that, just keep saying no, you won't be party to fraud and illegality.

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Replying to lionofludesch:
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By Paul Crowley
26th Oct 2020 19:18

Telephones are good recorders, not connected co Co IT
Not needed if nothing comes of any of this
BUT KEEP IT TO YOURSELF
DO NOT TELL WIFE

A little story
Client told accountants that considering shutting down.
A person who worked in the accountancy firm suggested to wife that wife ought to look around for new employment. (Yes she worked for client). Told to keep it to herself.
2 days later all client staff knew. ( wife only told her best mate, no one else! )
[***] hit fan

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Replying to Paul Crowley:
boxfile
By spilly
26th Oct 2020 19:48

What makes you think the OP is a man?

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Replying to spilly:
RLI
By lionofludesch
26th Oct 2020 20:02

Quote:

What makes you think the OP is a man?

What makes you think he thinks the OP is a man ?

Can't women have wives ?

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Replying to lionofludesch:
boxfile
By spilly
26th Oct 2020 20:17

I was going to ask why the assumption that they might be married. And don’t want to know if they play golf either.

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Replying to spilly:
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By Paul Crowley
26th Oct 2020 21:21

Probably will not see the like of those two threads again

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Replying to lionofludesch:
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By Mr_awol
26th Oct 2020 21:06

Quote:

Quote:

What makes you think the OP is a man?

What makes you think he thinks the OP is a man ?

What makes you think he thinks?

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Replying to Mr_awol:
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By Paul Crowley
26th Oct 2020 21:29

Thoughtless not thinkless

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Replying to spilly:
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By Paul Crowley
26th Oct 2020 21:25

Because she chose to confide in random strangers over her bestie

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By tom123
27th Oct 2020 08:17

I agree with putting directors name on the claims.

I have had similar things over the years.

One company under charged vat by 100k wrongly understanding export rules.

In the end I got a letter from Deloitte at to force the board to take my view.

For example CJRS, there are grey areas.

In the end you have to take a view, or else you will end up talking yourself out of every job you get.

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Replying to tom123:
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By New To Accountancy
27th Oct 2020 09:07

I've been putting my name on the claims, purely because I submitted them and calculated them based on the hours given from the Director. Is this not right? I suppose the Director could give incorrect hours and I certainly wouldn't want to be responsible.

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Replying to New To Accountancy:
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By tom123
27th Oct 2020 09:36

Bear in mind that, as an employee, your responsibilities are different (ie less) than if you were an external provider.

The director is responsible for the affairs of the company.

You can certainly not be obliged to put your name to these type of declarations if you do not wish to.

Sometimes pointing out that the forms go in with the directors name can be the little nudge that you need.

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Replying to tom123:
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By New To Accountancy
27th Oct 2020 09:46

Yes that's brilliant advice thank you. A particular Director I have in mind needs a lot of nudging. I look forward to highlighting his name on the next claim.
Thank you Tom

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Replying to New To Accountancy:
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By bernard michael
27th Oct 2020 13:20

Quote:

Yes that's brilliant advice thank you. A particular Director I have in mind needs a lot of nudging. I look forward to highlighting his name on the next claim.
Thank you Tom


You say "particular director" indicating there is more than one. If so take your gripe to the others
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Replying to New To Accountancy:
RLI
By lionofludesch
27th Oct 2020 10:08

Quote:

I've been putting my name on the claims, purely because I submitted them and calculated them based on the hours given from the Director. Is this not right? I suppose the Director could give incorrect hours and I certainly wouldn't want to be responsible.

I wouldn't worry too much - it's just a contact for queries as I see it.

That is - unless you've any reason to doubt whether the information submitted is correct. In which case, you probably shouldn't be submitting it at all.

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Replying to lionofludesch:
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By New To Accountancy
27th Oct 2020 10:18

Thank Lion. No I've no reason to doubt, I've been too busy to even doubt them unfortunately. This particular Director I have in mind is just my PITA client at the moment, I'm chasing and chasing for info such as invoices and so any nudges I enjoy! I want him to feel like I'm no longer going to save him or worry for him. I have noticed a flaw with myself, I show too much concern and I feel it is a way for the Director to release the pressure as he knows I'll worry for him. I'm trying to learn how to give it right back.

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Replying to New To Accountancy:
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By tom123
27th Oct 2020 10:31

I remember, in the last crisis, lying awake at night worrying about bailiffs and meeting payroll.

Then, once I realised the MD was probably sleeping like a baby, I learned to get past this.

The job, particularly if working in a company in distress, can be personally stressful. You need to learn to switch off, and this is hard.

A problem shared is a problem halved. Directors generally want to hear all the news, both good and bad.

Think of it a bit like politicians and their advisers.

There will always be a bit of 'worrying on their behalf' though, as our job is to get into the detail and look on the downside in a lot of cases.

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Replying to tom123:
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By New To Accountancy
27th Oct 2020 11:00

Thanks Tom, very helpful. It's worrying that isn't getting anywhere though. I am at the point where I am explaining what i need, why I need it and consequence if I don't receive it, instead of just asking and that's that! All learning I suppose.

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Replying to New To Accountancy:
Hallerud at Easter
By DJKL
27th Oct 2020 16:44

So you are not an employee?

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Replying to DJKL:
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By New To Accountancy
27th Oct 2020 16:57

No I am not an employee.

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Replying to New To Accountancy:
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By Paul Crowley
27th Oct 2020 17:23

As agent, So have I
Do not want ill informed clients muddying the clear as crystal spreadsheets and fag packet calculations that I made.

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Replying to Paul Crowley:
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By New To Accountancy
27th Oct 2020 17:58

Well my calculations look very technical and professional but if I've misunderstood anything, they could simply be a very neat pile of crap, your fag packet may beat the best!
I'm pretty confident though. I've a friend who works in payroll (PAYE) and I've given her advice, this is a big firm too. This made me feel better and confirmed no matter how big or small, we're all a little uncertain.

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By tom123
27th Oct 2020 10:39

This particular Director I have in mind is just my PITA client at the moment

I am concerned you are using the word 'client'?

Just checking that was a figure of speech, and you are currently working under PAYE for this employer?

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Replying to tom123:
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By New To Accountancy
27th Oct 2020 10:55

Hi Tom, no, I am his bookkeeper and I do payroll, I am not his accountant. I never take anything on that is out of my remit. I have the same accountant 'overseeing' all my clients.

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Replying to New To Accountancy:
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By tom123
27th Oct 2020 11:07

It is just that you mentioned 'employer' at the beginning. (for context, I work in industry and am 'employed')

If you are the bookkeeper and they are the client - then that is a different relationship. You need to be much firmer in your boundaries.

I think you really need to ensure the director signs absolutely everything. I presume you have professional indemnity insurance.

I am sure you have nothing to worry about, however.

Most other responders will be practice accountants, I am sure.

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Replying to New To Accountancy:
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By tom123
27th Oct 2020 11:07

It is just that you mentioned 'employer' at the beginning. (for context, I work in industry and am 'employed')

If you are the bookkeeper and they are the client - then that is a different relationship. You need to be much firmer in your boundaries.

I think you really need to ensure the director signs absolutely everything. I presume you have professional indemnity insurance.

I am sure you have nothing to worry about, however.

Most other responders will be practice accountants, I am sure.

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Replying to tom123:
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By New To Accountancy
27th Oct 2020 11:17

Yes I notice that, sorry for any confusion. Yes I have PII, have everything signed, MLR etc. Thanks Tom

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Replying to New To Accountancy:
Red Leader
By Red Leader
27th Oct 2020 11:07

Are you an employee of the client you mention or are you self employed?

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Replying to Red Leader:
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By New To Accountancy
27th Oct 2020 11:27

Self employed now. I left the practice thecclient was with and the Director of that practice said he no longer wanted the clients when I left and wrote to them. I initially registered as agent temporarily just to ensure they didn't miss any deadlines as the clients transitioned to their new accountant but they all wanted to 'keep me' and said I was the only one who straightened things up for them. I explained I would only stay if we could get an experienced accountant to oversee my work and for me to go to or pass work to that was outside my comfort zone and they agreed and luckily we found an accountant who was comfortable with this arrangement, bearing in mind I did offer to work for free because the experience is invaluable to me - but not to them if I do not have the experience! So if it wasn't for this accountant, I wouldn't be able to do this and I absolutely love what I do even though I moan.

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Replying to New To Accountancy:
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By bernard michael
27th Oct 2020 13:24

Quote:

Self employed now. I left the practice thecclient was with and the Director of that practice said he no longer wanted the clients when I left and wrote to them. I initially registered as agent temporarily just to ensure they didn't miss any deadlines as the clients transitioned to their new accountant but they all wanted to 'keep me' and said I was the only one who straightened things up for them. I explained I would only stay if we could get an experienced accountant to oversee my work and for me to go to or pass work to that was outside my comfort zone and they agreed and luckily we found an accountant who was comfortable with this arrangement, bearing in mind I did offer to work for free because the experience is invaluable to me - but not to them if I do not have the experience! So if it wasn't for this accountant, I wouldn't be able to do this and I absolutely love what I do even though I moan.


You've done it again "they all" indicating that their is more than one director. Give the complaint about one director to the rest of board
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Replying to bernard michael:
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By New To Accountancy
27th Oct 2020 13:35

Ok, I'm grammatically incorrect.

Oh and it's 'there' , not 'their'

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Replying to New To Accountancy:
RLI
By lionofludesch
27th Oct 2020 13:48

Yay - a grammar duel!!

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Replying to lionofludesch:
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By Mr_awol
27th Oct 2020 14:56

To be fair, Bernard's error was the use of an incorrect work that didn't affect a reader's understanding of the post.

NTA's was incorrectly describing an (apparently) singular director in a way that made it sound as if there were directors (plural) in post. As such, the error* needed clarifying as it could be relevant whereas correcting Bernard changes nothing in terms of the context of the discussion at hand.

* I am assuming it was an error and we are back to one director.

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Replying to Mr_awol:
RLI
By lionofludesch
27th Oct 2020 15:07

Quote:

To be fair, Bernard's error was the use of an incorrect work that didn't affect a reader's understanding of the post.

Yay - a spot the incorrect work - er, word - duel !!

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Replying to lionofludesch:
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By New To Accountancy
27th Oct 2020 15:45

(Chuckle)

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Replying to New To Accountancy:
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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
27th Oct 2020 14:58

New To Accountancy wrote:

..bearing in mind I did offer to work for free because the experience is invaluable to me..

Please tell me you're not still working for free.

btw you're at your wits' end (or possibly at your wit's end) not your wits end.

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Replying to I'msorryIhaven'taclue:
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By New To Accountancy
27th Oct 2020 16:07

Yes I mostly work for free, especially for this client. I know it may sound silly to you, but the experience is of extremely high value to me. This is my opportunity and hopefully one day I'll have my 'chariots of fire' moment.

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Replying to New To Accountancy:
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By Paul Crowley
28th Oct 2020 05:49

Even if good experience, you are adding value and have costs
Time to consider fees
You know you are worth it

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Replying to Paul Crowley:
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By New To Accountancy
28th Oct 2020 21:30

Thanks Paul, I've a long way to go but I'm keeping my head down and keeping focused so hopefully one day I'll give myself approval.

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Replying to New To Accountancy:
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By Rgab1947
28th Oct 2020 09:56

I take it you have a revenue stream from somewhere.

My clients want me to work for free, one particular (Who thinks any idiot can do accountancy - listens a lot to QB adverts), but as I too need to eat, politely decline and charge market rates.

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Replying to Rgab1947:
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By Southwestbeancounter
28th Oct 2020 14:44

Oh don't get me started on those dreadful QB adverts!! Grrr!!!

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Replying to Rgab1947:
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By New To Accountancy
28th Oct 2020 21:26

Not much revenue stream at the moment but I feel fortunate because my husband can support me. My old employers prior to practice (Finance) offered me my old position and I was there for 10 years so I've put myself in this position because I do not want to leave tax and making the sacrifice financially is really, only temporary plus the only way get the experience I need too.

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By tom123
27th Oct 2020 11:30

The thing is, we have a period of very difficult times coming up. Businesses will fail, and will be looking for someone to blame.

There will always be the mythical 'man down the pub' who has somehow managed to blag more grants / JSS / whatever.

So, proceed with caution and keep your letters of engagement up to date.

Stick to the knitting, as they say

Thanks (1)
Replying to tom123:
Hallerud at Easter
By DJKL
27th Oct 2020 16:55

It is not coming up it is already here, the only part coming up is I expect it to get worse first before getting any better- another of our tenants approached us yesterday claiming they are on the edge of the drop (which I do not doubt) , these are becoming more regular. Whilst we have had a flurry of tenants catching up rent deferments we agreed with them from April to September we are also now getting some coming back and like Oliver asking for more relief- things seem to be getting a little shakier for those entities that are effectively being prevented from trading.

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By Marie Sharman-Forgue
28th Oct 2020 10:02

It's a very common thing for clients to be as dodgy as they can be. Which is why it's important first of all to have a contract with them that stipulates the following:
"The responsibility for the detection of irregularities and fraud rests with the client’s management and this is outside the scope of our engagement. Fxxxx Accounting Ltd commits to provide full guidance in this respect. Nevertheless, the client is obliged to provide full information to us".

I have asked each month all my clients to confirm in writing that they wanted me to submit a CJRS claim on their behalf and how many hours their employees have worked. Saved their replies. And whenever I felt something was not right I sent them an email informing them about the rules to make sure they were aware of them. Saved those emails too.

Being an accountant means that you have to cover yourself at all times. I strongly suggest you start doing this asap. As someone else said, clients will always blame you for their mistakes if they can get away with it.

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By Mr J Andrews
28th Oct 2020 11:30

Employer sounds like a POTUS type. Brian Clough had a similar style but he was always right. But, reading the article , there's no mention that the Employer's refusal to listen to Wits End's views nor heed professional expertise have led { YET } to any breaches or rule twisting.
Conversely the Employer's attempts are thwarted by ''Pushing Back'' any dodgy claims or rule twisting. Keep up the good work.

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Nefertiti
By Nefertiti
28th Oct 2020 16:33

This is not a difficult question. You should have known when you joined, that in small companies you are expected to do everything and anything. Your choice is very easy, help your employer claim everything he desires from the government or leave. If you choose the former you will also make some money and can always claim later you were forced to do things that you have no qualifications in - thus leaving your employer to deal with any issues, but if you choose the latter you can sit at home unemployed for the next few months as it will be impossible to get another job for at least the next year or so.

If you have a guilty conscience, then read this article and maybe it will help you decide:

https://www.thelondoneconomic.com/news/legal-action-launched-over-missin...

Yes our esteemed government have been busy emptying the taxpayers coffers through cronyism:

https://www.thelondoneconomic.com/politics/seven-week-old-firm-with-link...

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Replying to Nefertiti:
RLI
By lionofludesch
28th Oct 2020 17:06

Quote:

This is not a difficult question. You should have known when you joined, that in small companies you are expected to do everything and anything. Your choice is very easy, help your employer claim everything he desires from the government or leave.

Well, aye, but it turns out that the OP isn't actually an employee, rendering much of the early advice on the thread - as well as your own post - utterly inappropriate.

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