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Are Public Bodies able to continue to pay contractors (and their supply chains) at risk as a result of Covid-19?

Yes: The Cabinet Office has published a number of Procurement Policy Notes to provide instructions to Public Bodies to enable payments to continue to be made to at risk suppliers (and their supply chains) who have been affected by Covid-19. Copies of this guidance can be obtained from the Government website at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/procurement-policy-note-0220-supplier-relief-due-to-covid-19

Related FAQs

Can employees with caring responsibilities be placed on Flexible Furlough?

Employees who are unable to work because they have caring responsibilities resulting from the coronavirus can continue to be furloughed. For example, employees that need to look after children can be furloughed, as you have previously submitted a claim for them in relation to a furlough period of at least 3 consecutive weeks taking place any time between 1 March 2020 and 30 June.

As more people return to work, there is an increased chance of more parents having childcare issues until Schools are fully open. However, they can’t be placed on furlough unless they had been on it before. So it would likely be unpaid leave, unless the government amends the scheme to grant an exemption.

What are the changes to the law?

On 25th June 2020, the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act, among other things, introduced new restrictions on suppliers of goods and services to terminate the contract in the event that the customer enters an insolvency process.  This has very important consequences for many businesses as it could expose them to greater financial risks.

I’m a landlord. How do I comply with Regulation 36 of the Gas Safety Regulations 1998 during the coronavirus outbreak?

Under their obligations arising from Regulation 36 of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, landlords must service domestic gas appliances on an annual basis and provide tenants with a record of the service within 28 days of that service. Failure to comply can result in prosecution by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or downgrading by the Regulator.

We know how important this is. But how can you comply with your obligations during the Covid-19 epidemic?

The latest restrictions on leaving the home, currently allow registered gas engineers to undertake essential work, whilst taking the appropriate precautions advised to avoid spreading or contracting the virus in a new setting.

Other considerations – the mental health and wellbeing of BAME staff and others

Undeniably and understandably BAME staff, as well as those staff who are identified as being at a higher risk, are going to have high levels of stress and anxiety. For some, this may become of such severity that those staff should be considered to be disabled under the Equality Act 2010. The question as to whether someone is disabled is one that should be answered in conjunction with appropriate medical advice. But the question about how to support any staff suffering with stress and anxiety should not be left until that stage. Proactive steps need to be taken and expert advice obtained on what support measures should be put in place. We know that many NHS organisations are already giving the mental wellbeing of their staff the highest priority.

From our perspective, we would ask managers to be mindful that stress and anxiety is likely to feature in how an individual reacts to questions about the level of risk to their health and the impact on their duties. The conversations with some staff may not be easy to have and may be met with challenge.

For those staff who’s stress and anxiety is such that it would qualify as a disability, reasonable  adjustments will need to be considered to the processes that you are applying.

An additional point to consider – it might be worth writing to all staff, asking them to come forward if they have any health conditions that they think you ought to be aware of, assuring them that such information is being given in the strictest confidence. You want to make sure that you are taking the appropriate measures to ensure their health and safety.

What is the new Permitted Development Right for restaurants, cafes and drinking establishments?

A new Permitted Development Right has been introduced providing restaurants and cafes, drinking establishments with expanded food provision to temporarily provide takeaway food. The new right came into force on 24 March 2020 and expires on 23 March 2021. The right is subject to three conditions:

  • The developer must notify the local planning authority if the building and any land within its curtilage is being used, or will be used, for the provision of takeaway food at any time during the relevant period
  • Change of use to the provision of takeaway food under the Right, does not affect the use class which the building and any land within its curtilage had before the change of use
  • If the developer changes use to the provision of takeaway food under the Right, the use of the building and any land within its curtilage reverts to its previous lawful use when the Right expires or, if earlier, when the developer ceases to provide takeaway food.

Alcohol will still be subject to the same licensing requirements. At this stage, it is not clear how the Right will interact with any current planning conditions placed on an establishment.  Enforcement however remains discretionary. A link to Statutory Instrument 2020 No.330 is below.

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/330/made