SME Agony Uncle: Bobby Kerr answers all your business and work-related questions

Join Bobby on The Hard Shoulder every Tuesday, with thanks to Energia

Each week broadcaster, entrepreneur and agony uncle Bobby Kerr joins The Hard Shoulder to answer all your employment-related questions.

This week, Bobby and Ivan kicked things off by discussing retirement as Ivan says he is starting to think about it. 

Bobby says it's smart to consider it in advance and there are plenty of ways you can ease yourself into it so it's not a shock to your system. It's not advisable to go from being busy 24/7 to stopping everything altogether at the same time. 

There was a recent article on that outlined 15 tips for a happy retirement, which Bobby says would be quite useful to anyone considering it. Some of the tips included were: 

  • Choose the right season to retire
  • Think about who you are now - your career shouldn't define you
  • Get back into old hobbies
  • Be wary of old habits, like sleeping in too late, maybe drinking too much at night or grazing all day from the fridge
  • Consider using your skills elsewhere - maybe volunteering
  • Do the travel bit before it's too late
  • Don't be the CEO of your own house
  • 80% of your social contacts are made at work so don't lose touch with the people you've met throughout your career

Now onto your questions... 

I work for a big company and had agreed to work the May Bank Holiday weekend. After driving into work, which takes an hour, and working for a further 30mins, I was informed that I was actually off. I had been on holidays the week before and nobody told me. Am I entitled to be paid? 

Bobby says most employees are entitled to paid leave under the Working Time Act 1997 and there are four options really - a paid day off on the public holiday, an additional day of annual leave, an additional day's pay or a paid day off within a month of the public holiday. So this employee could be reimbursed in any of these ways. 

Bank holiday entitlements are slightly different for part time employees as well, which is important to note. 

To put it simply though, this man would not be entitled to money for turning up and working by mistake on his day off. However, he should still have received one of the four reimbursement options above for being off the bank holiday anyway. 

I started making jams and preserves in my kitchen and was wondering about starting to turn my passion into a business. How would I go about dipping my toe into this without actually flying the nest because I have a solid pensionable job that pays well too?

Bobby says to get family and friends to try out the product first of all. If that goes well, get yourself a stall at a local food or farmers market and go down at the weekend with some of your produce so you can get people to taste them and gather feedback. 

It's important to remember that going from making the jam as a hobby to a business is quite the transition and there would be lots to consider, like food hygiene regulations, packaging, shelf life, distribution, etc. 

One option might be to partner with a supermarket - some of them offer product development courses that you can go on for a few weeks and they help you develop your product.  

I'm teaching English in a language school to people who aren't native English speakers. I am a permanent employee so is my employer obliged to arrange a pension deduction from my salary? 

Bobby says there is no general obligation on any employer to provide you with a pension plan. There are some sectors, like construction or electrical contracting where it might be legislated. 

The only obligation of your employer is to give you access to a PRSA and that's deducted from payroll every week so they do have to apply this but they do not have to provide you with a pension. 

You can listen back to all of Bobby’s employment advice from Tuesday’s The Hard Shoulder here:

If you have a business or SME related query you would like answered - you can get in touch with Bobby each week by simply sending a short mail to