Can an employee who has the resources to work from home, but struggles to do so, attend their place of work during the national lockdown?
Whilst many employees may now have the resources and equipment to work from home, an employee may struggle to effectively work from home for a number of reasons. For example, an employee may not have a suitable working environment where they can work without being disturbed or alternatively, working from home for prolonged periods of time may be having a detrimental impact on the employee’s mental well-being.
In circumstances such as these, employers must carry out a careful assessment. Unfortunately, there is not any specific guidance as to when an individual cannot ‘reasonably’ work from home – it is likely that each case will be fact specific.
In relation to employees who are struggling with their mental well-being, employers owe their employees a duty of care. It is crucial that procedures are in place which will enable an employer to recognise the signs of stress as early as possible. In the circumstances, it may be appropriate to allow an employee to attend their place of work if this would help alleviate work-related stress or to prevent mental health issues.
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 apply if the contractor uses an intermediary to provide their services or labour and they would be deemed to be an employee or office holder for tax purposes if they were hired directly by the end user client rather than via the intermediary PSC. This would of course require an assessment of employment status for tax purposes.
Contractors who are not taxed in the UK and supply their services exclusively from outside of the UK are unaffected.
If IR35 applies, tax and NIC’s should be deducted under PAYE by the PSC. In reality this has not been happening so a major reform of the regime was due to be implemented in April 2020. The changes were postponed by one year and are due to take effect from 6 April 2021.
“Within IR35” means a contractor arrangement is caught by IR35 and the individual should be taxed as an employee.
“Outside IR35” means a contractor arrangement is not caught by IR35 and the contractor status is fine.
All policies will impose a stringent obligation, often with time limits, for you to notify insurers of circumstances that may give rise to a potential claim under the policy and non-compliance may well negate your cover. If therefore you have potential cover under your policy you must make a precautionary notification to Insurers as soon as possible.
After 25 March 2020, and until 30 September 2020, a landlord can only start possession proceedings against a tenant if they have served 3 months’ notice upon the tenant – irrespective of any grounds relied upon.
On 27 March 2020, the Court introduced new rules to put all possession proceedings (except against trespassers) on hold until 25 June 2020 – it means that the Court cannot make an order for possession or any other order that would cause someone to be evicted during that time.
These rules do not just apply to tenants who have fallen into rent arrears.
On 5 June 2020, the Government announced that this stay would be extended further until 23 August 2020.
This means that you can issue new possession proceedings (provided you have complied with the new temporary rules in relation to notice periods, if the notice was served since 25 March 2020) and you can continue with existing possession proceedings.
However, any progress you may be able to make in dealing with those proceedings is likely to be very limited – the Court will allow you to comply with directions orders that have already been made but non-compliance will not be punished (at least for the time being).
These rules, and the latest announcements, are in keeping with the Government’s expectation that landlords show compassion towards affected tenants and that all parties will work together to establish a suitable repayment plan to allow tenants to repay the arrears at an affordable rate.
As part of the Coronavirus Bill there is some good news for tenants in so far as it included the following:
- All commercial tenants in England, Wales and Northern Ireland missing rent payments are to benefit from a government ban on forfeiture of their lease.
- Landlords then will be prevented from terminating leases and “evicting” commercial tenants.
- The above provisions rules will apply not only to principal rent, but to “any sum a tenant is required to pay”, leaving the burden of supplying services and insuring the premises on landlords. The bill will last until 30 June 2020, with an option for the government to extend this deadline.
Whist this is helpful to any Tenant planning not to pay rent or other payments due under their lease insofar as they will not suffer forfeiture and be evicted, it should be noted that the contractual obligation to continue paying rent and all other costs due under the lease remains and Landlords will still be able to take action to recover any payments due under the lease that are in arrears.