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Are permitted development rights now in existence for the creation of emergency medical facilities?

Yes. The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Coronavirus) (England) (Amendment) Order 2020 came into force on 9 April 2020 giving permitted development rights for emergency development. The permitted development right is available to local authorities and health service bodies (as defined) on land owned, leased, occupied or maintained by it for the purposes of:

  • Preventing an emergency
  • Reducing, controlling or mitigating the effects of an emergency
  • Taking other action in connection with an emergency

It could cover, for example, the temporary change of use of buildings into a Nightingale Hospital or the establishment of a testing centre.

The permitted development right is not permitted in certain instances and is subject to a number of conditions including the notification of the local planning authority and the cessation of the use before 31 December 2020.

Further detail of the permitted development right is available at the link below.

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/412/made

Related FAQs

Does a sponsor need to report a change in workplace if a Tier 2 visa holder is working from home as a result of Covid-19?

No. The Home Office has confirmed that sponsors do not need to report sponsored workers as working from home, where this is directly related to the coronavirus outbreak.

However any UK employers who sponsor overseas workers, should also ensure that they remain compliant with their other sponsor licence duties, which includes reporting any change to an employee’s salary and duties.

If an employee works with vulnerable people who are at high risk of catching coronavirus, can the employer require them to limit their activities outside of work?

It is unlikely that an employer can place such a requirement on staff without infringing the employee’s privacy. If the employee is acting in accordance with the rules, limiting their activity would likely be considered unreasonable.

What other factors may be considered?
  • Integration:
    • Is the individual held out as being employed by the business by having a company email address, uniform, how would they introduce themselves to customers?
  • Exclusivity:
    • Is the contractor restricted from working for other organisations without the consent of the end user client?
  • Length of engagement:
    • Is the contractor engaged to work on a specific project for a defined period? Or are they engaged for an indefinite period with no reference to a specific task or project?
  • Pay:
    • Are there regular fixed payments or is payment on completion of specific task or commission based? Is the contractor entitled to benefits or bonuses?
  • Facilities:
    • Does the contractor provide their own equipment and materials to provide the services?
  • Financial risk:
    • Is the contractor personally responsible for any loss arising from their work in performing the services? Will they have to rectify unsatisfactory work at their own time and expense? Will they have the opportunity to profit from the success of a project?
How should an employer handle personal information in relation to NHS Test and Trace?

Employers will be collecting and sharing health information. Health information is sensitive and higher data protection standards apply. Here are a few key pointers.

  • Update privacy notices to cover the new collection and sharing of employees’ information and provide these to the workforce. Be transparent and fair.
  • Identify the legal basis and condition for use of this information and put any required paperwork in place. The ICO guidance will help. For some conditions such as the employment condition, an Appropriate Policy Document (APD) will be required. The ICO has an APD template.
  • Only use the information for the purpose of managing the workforce during the pandemic.
  • Only collect or share information if it’s necessary – if it’s a targeted and proportionate way of achieving your purpose.
  • Make sure any health information collected and shared is accurate – there may be serious consequences if it’s not.
  • Work out how long the information must be kept for. Keep a record of that period and act on it at the appropriate time.
  • Security is very important – there may be malicious actors trying to trick employers and employees. Make sure employees know how to identify a genuine NHS Test and Trace contact. Keep the information secure. Use the ICO’s data sharing checklists** and keep a record of the disclosures made and why. Control external disclosures – only certain authorised members of staff should make them.
  • Make sure individuals can still exercise their data protection rights – that’s also very important. Keep data protection records up-to-date and ensure any exports of personal information outside the UK are compliant.
  • Before introducing employer-led testing like taking temperatures, thermal imaging or other potentially intrusive tests, work out if a data protection impact assessment (DPIA) is required. It will be if the intended processing is ‘high risk’. If it is, then carry out a full DPIA. It will help address the issues systematically and mitigate risks.
  • All this demonstrates ‘accountability’ – it shows affected individuals and the ICO that the employer is complying with data protection requirements.

If you need further help, please visit the ICO’s data protection and coronavirus information hub or ask our data protection team.

** Please note that this link is to the ICO’s existing checklists and data sharing code of practice. We will update the link to the ICO’s new checklists after they are published.

I am due to file accounts at Companies House, but have been unable to complete them due to Covid-19. What should I do?

Every company has to file accounts at Companies House every year. If they are filed late, a fine is automatically levied. If there is a long delay in filing them, the directors are at risk of prosecution and the Registrar of Companies might start a process which could ultimately lead to the company being struck from the register.

However, Companies House has recognised that businesses might currently face exceptional problems in preparing and filing their accounts on time and so have posted a notice on their website which says that if immediately before the filing deadline, it becomes apparent that accounts will not be filed on time due to coronavirus, you can make an application to extend the period allowed for filing.