HR Expert Annabel Kaye to Present at WordCamp London

Annabel Kaye is the Managing Director of Irenicon Ltd. and also the founder of KoffeeKlatch – a site devoted to exploring and supporting the way people work today in a freelance and global online economy. Since 1980 she has been helping organisations find a way to put the Human into HR, and create flexibility that doesn’t hurt. Her humorous and quick witted presentations hide a long experience of what she calls ‘the dark side of HR’. Ms. Kaye is a speaker to entrepreneurs and business people on a regular basis: at conferences, local business meetings and online. was able to catch up with Annabel Kaye to find out more about her HR expertise and her upcoming flash talk at WordCamp London.


Tell us a bit about your background and how you came to your current position.

I have been working in employment law and HR since the late 1970s. At that time it wasn’t a separate subject – just one hour on the personnel management syllabus, or one hour on a law degree. A lot has changed since then. I co-founded Irenicon in 1980 and have worked with everything from one man (or woman) bands to global corporations – always looking for ways to make the commercial, the relationship and the legal work together. In 2009 I created a new brand – KoffeeKlatch – designed to support the way we work today. The increasing shift to home working, freelancing, and global collaboration by tiny organisations has created a fascinating world of opportunities and risk that traditional HR and employment law simply ignore. From delivering our own services online, to supporting our highly entrepreneurial clients – it is a fascinating challenge to be there at the right time, with a light touch and help remove some of the stumbling blocks to getting the job done and creating long term value.


As an HR expert – what do you see as the greatest issues facing businesses today with regard to HR?

The biggest problem is that people don’t go beyond the label. HR by its nature likes to have things in boxes (or tick them) and entrepreneurs and owners of growing businesses want it all kept more flexible and responsive. We see freelancers, zero hours contracts, outsourcing as the way to keep our costs down – and it can be – but we also see it as outside HR. If we create a two tier workforce in our minds of people we contract one way and people we contract another – our service delivery can suffer as too much stuff gets done at the last minute by people who have no idea how we function. The technology has enabled us to do amazing things, but we have to keep up with the human side to make it work. And most businesses have no idea of the real legal situation they in with the people they pay.


You’ve conducted surveys on probems that companies typically experience. Can you share any insights here?

The survey is ongoing – (and fully anonymous) and we welcome more responses: It is focussed on the people we pay who are not our employees. The freelance person our respondents are most likely to pay this year is far and away – a web site designer. Almost one third of people who are paying a web site designer have no written agreement of any kind with that designer (which means there is plenty of room for argument, tax demands, copyright and ownership disputes) About a third of people who are paying web site designers pay an individual (as opposed to a company) 80% of our respondents gave a wrong answer or a don’t know answer to who is liable for tax when paying an individual directly. Almost 50% of people who pay freelancers don’t even have a written agreement about not poaching their clients! Just under 40% have no agreement on confidentiality or who owns the data or code that is written during a project Just under a third have no agreement about copyright, intellectual property or even who gets paid when! It is no different when it is a web site designer who is contracting out work to other designers. People just don’t really grasp what the ‘defaults’ are when you don’t have a proper agreement and many people are selling on designs and content that they don’t actually own the rights to! Others are sitting ducks for when HMRC calls.


What will you be covering in your WordCamp London talk – and who is likely to benefit?

In my 5 minute flash talk I will be telling a really great story of how this turns out.


Any other items you wanted to share?

If you can’t make the talk you can download our free freelance top tips from: We are also running a free webinar on managing and contracting your web designer. It is on April 1st at 11am for one hour. For more information please visit: Staff

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