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
From 1 July 2020 the furlough scheme has been operating more flexibly.
The key changes from 1 July 2020 were:
- All furloughed employees are subject to the new flexible furlough rules and the new basis for calculating claims
- Furloughed employees can be brought back to work on a part-time basis for any amount of time and can work any work pattern
- Employers can claim for the hours not worked compared the hours the person would normally have worked in that period
- There must be a new written furlough agreement in place to record the agreement with the furloughed employee to return to work part-time
- The new agreement (including a collective agreement) must be made before any period of flexible furlough begins but it may be varied at a later stage if necessary. The agreement must be incorporated into the employee’s contract of employment, either expressly or impliedly
- Employers must keep a record of this agreement until at least 30 June 2025, and they must also keep a record of the hours the furlough employee worked and the hours that they were furloughed
- Employees can be furloughed from 1 July 2020 for any amount of time and more than once
- However, if you re-furloughed an employee after 10 June but before 1 July 2020, they had to be furloughed for an initial period of three consecutive weeks
- Claims for payments under the scheme must not cross calendar months so if you are claiming for the initial three week period of a re-furloughed employee who was furloughed on 12 June for example, you must submit separate claims for the dates in June and July
- Although flexible furlough agreements can last any length of time, you should only submit a claim to HMRC once a week.
Failure to comply with the individual consultation obligations could render the dismissal unfair and expose you to a financial penalty of the lower of up to 1 years gross pay or the maximum statutory limit (currently £88,519).
It would be prudent to take legal advice early in relation to any issue you foresee in performing a contract. This will allow you to:
- Ensure that initial contact with your counterparty is framed in the correct way
- Ensure that any variations are fully documented so that both parties are fully protected
Yes – there should be a framework in place to ensure that MHFAs are fully supported themselves and so that individuals are supported beyond the support the MHFAs provide.
All organisations have underperformers. Capability is a potentially fair reason to dismiss and is separate to any redundancy procedures.
Generally, capability falls into either absences through illness or underperformance in the role. Those who are absent through sickness can be furloughed, but when furlough comes to an end they will need to go back onto sickness. If you are looking to tackle absence then you need to tackle long term and short term absence in a different way.
Long term absence: You need to establish whether the employee is able to return to work (with or without reasonable adjustments) in the medium term. This requires medical opinion and be careful of disability issues. Reasonable adjustments are likely to be important.
Short term absence: You will need to demonstrate that you have fair absence triggers in place and there is normally be a 3 stage procedure: warning and final warning followed by dismissal on notice. Each stage needs a fair procedure, with written information, a fair hearing and the opportunity to appeal. Be careful of disability issues.
As for underperformance: To tackle this, you will need to have clear SMART objectives in place and evidence of the employee failing to meet these. There would then normally be a 3 stage procedure: warning and final warning followed by dismissal on notice. Each stage needs a fair procedure, with written information, a fair hearing and the opportunity to appeal.