LAYING DOWN THE LAW - on working hours, gas bills, gardening and faulty computers

QI HAVE worked for a store for more than 15 years and have always worked over my contracted hours (38).

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I have now been told I can no longer do this as I am flagging up on their Working Time Directive report.

I rely on this extra money and have offered to sign an opt-out form to state that it is me who wants to work extra.

They told me they don't accept an opt-out form. Is this possible when other employers accept them.

Please help as I am having to look for a second job.

AAn opt out from the Working Time Directive can only take place if both parties – employer and employee – agree, so one can't impose it on the other.

However, as your firm has accepted it for so long, there may be a question of contractual entitlement on your part.

With employment issues I always recommend getting specialist advice. Start with the Citizens Advice Bureau or ACAS, or go to an employment solicitor.

QI am being threatened with disconnection by the gas company for a bill that's not even in my name. It was in my late husband's name. He died in 2000.

ASomething is not right here. I suggest you get on to the customer care department of the gas company and speak to someone who can look into this.

If they are seeking payment for something that is more than 10 years old they may have no right to do so.

However, if the account was never changed over after his death, that may lead to a different outcome.

This may be one where the help of the Citizens Advice Bureau can take the burden off you a bit.

If you are an older person then also speak to Age UK (previously Age Concern and Help the Aged) tel 0800 169 6565

QAs an executor of my late father's estate, what can I claim on my expense sheet?

I have been cutting grass and trimming hedges to keep the property from falling into disrepair. There is also the use of my equipment and travel expenses.

AThese are all legitimate claims, as if you were not available or willing, a firm would have had to be brought in to do all this.

As long as you charge a moderate fee and show what has been charged for in the accounts, I cannot see how you can be faulted.

Q I tried to take back a computer I bought for my son. The shop is charging us £50 for a diagnostic check, and then will give us a quote for repair.

I would have thought any repair should be free – we only bought the PC four months ago – but I know nothing about computers.

AIf there is something wrong with the unit then any repair should be covered by your statutory rights to goods of satisfactory quality.

If you don't fee able to insist, then call your local trading standards office for advice.

You could pay the £50 under protest and, if there is a fault, seek repayment.

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