Can employees take annual leave during a period of furlough?
Yes, however holiday pay during furlough must remain at the normal rate of pay and not the reduced furloughed rate. You can still claim for this period under the scheme but you will be responsible for any amounts beyond the maximum you can claim. Employers have flexibility to restrict when leave can be taken both during and after period of furlough in the normal way.
If an employee usually works bank holidays then the employer can agree that this is included in the grant payment. If the employee usually takes the bank holiday as leave then you would either have to top up their usual holiday pay, or give the employee a day of holiday in lieu.
The Government published guidelines on 23 March 2020 concerning house sales.
Estate Agents have been required to close their offices and although staff are allowed to work from home they must not attend properties for any reason.
Therefore, if the property has not yet been put onto the market you will be unable to obtain a proper valuation at present. Also, restrictions on movement means that people must not view properties in person. Therefore you ought to delay marketing.
If you have found a buyer and the property is empty then the transaction can go ahead but you may experience delays in the transaction. For example, if your buyer needs a mortgage there will be a delay in getting a mortgage offer and even if it’s a cash purchase there are likely to be delays with Local Authority Searches.
You should discuss with your conveyancer whether to include special contract conditions. These could take into account what happens if the buyer or someone in the chain falls ill between exchange and completion and cannot move on the anticipated completion date.
If you have exchanged contracts the Government guidelines indicate that the sale of an empty property can go ahead to completion. However, if the contents of the property have not been removed you may have difficulty getting it cleared. Similarly, your buyer or someone else in the conveyancing chain may find that their removers are unable to move them. If this happens, you ought to discuss this with your conveyancer and your buyer as soon as possible to see if completion can be delayed to a later date.
Where a development is considered to be “EIA development” (being development where an Environmental Impact Assessment or Environmental Statement is required to be submitted) there are additional statutory publicity and notice requirements over and above the requirements for a standard planning application. Regulations usually require that the environmental statement is to be made available for inspection by the public at all reasonable hours at an address in the locality for a period of at least 30 days. Copies of the environmental statement are also to be made available for people to take away from that address. This clearly requires physical copies to be available at a specified location for a prolonged period of time, which may prove problematic during the current health crisis.
New regulations came into effect on 14 May 2020 which will temporarily suspend the above requirements and will instead require the Environmental Statement to be available for inspection online. The applicant must however provide a certificate to the Local Planning Authority stating what steps have been undertaken to bring the application (and the Environmental Statement) to the attention of people who are likely to have an interest and why it considers that such steps were reasonable.
During the Covid 19 crisis lawyers and the courts have had to adapt with hearings being heard remotely and with more electronic communication. It is clear that going forward, some of these changes will become more permanent.
The Lord Chancellor, Robert Buckland QC MP, has spoken last week regarding changes to the justice system following the COVID-19 pandemic and we know that there is a significant backlog of work that needs to be processed.
Firstly, 10 sites have been identified for ‘Nightingale courts’ which will allow for better social distancing. The authorities have suggested that it is a possibility that courts will need to stay open for a longer time or at weekends, to increase the number of cases that can be heard safely on any given day. This will enable more cases to be heard in a day and therefore a swifter outcome for your case. The standard of video technology will also continue to improve, with plans for new technology being rolled out across all courts form July onwards. The enhanced use of technology may result in matters being heard more efficiently, decreasing the time spent during each hearing.
HMCTS is working to expand access to audio and video technology to support more and new types of hearings. There has been an increase in the use of new and varying equipment over the lock-down period. With the appropriate systems in place, many more hearings could take place on platforms such as the Cloud Video Platform (CVP). Throughout July, the CVP will be more readily available to Country courts. There will be further hardware rolled out to improve the quality of video hearings, and there will be more efficient methods used to organise video lists.
The increased use and training of CVP means that witnesses and advocates may not need to attend court and could attend the hearing remotely. This will give you increased flexibility, enabling you to attend from your office or home. The CVP is efficient and simple to use, with no complex functions; making it user-friendly. This should make litigation more time and cost effective (albeit that there will be the cultural challenge of having less contact with your legal team or the court experience).
In some circumstances, visitors and customers are required to wear face coverings, such as those travelling on public transport, shoppers and museum visitors. The government guidance states that:
- businesses must remind people to wear face coverings where mandated; and
- premises where face coverings are required should take reasonable steps to promote compliance with the law.
As part of their duty of care to employees and to uphold a relationship of mutual trust and confidence, employers should consider how employees can ensure that visitors and customers comply with the rules and provide their staff with guidance. They must also seek ways to protect their employees both from the risks of those customers not wearing face masks and potential abuse from customers or visitors who decline to wear a face covering. This may include having signs in place requiring customers and visitors to wear a mask and allowing staff to refuse to serve customers if they do not follow the rules.
However, it is ultimately the responsibility of the police, security and public transport officials to remove customers from premises where they are not complying with the rules on face coverings.
The police and Transport for London have been given greater powers by the government to take measures if the public do not comply with the law relating to face coverings without a valid exemption, such as refusing to wear a face covering. This includes issuing fines which have now been increased to £200 for the first offence (and £100 if paid within 14 days). Transport operators can also deny access to their public transport services if a passenger is not wearing a face covering, or direct them to wear one or leave a service.
As a result of the CJRS being extended, the Job Retention Bonus will no longer be paid in February 2021.