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Can I dismiss someone who refuses to wear PPE?

Potentially, yes. If someone refuses to follow the health and safety measures that have been put in place to protect them, colleagues and possibly their customers, including (where appropriate) the use of PPE then this is a disciplinary issue and should be dealt with as such. Repeated failure to comply with the requirement to follow these measures, or a one off significant failure, may be sufficient to justify dismissal, depending on the circumstances.

Related FAQs

Who do the Procurement Policy Notes (PPN) apply to?

All three of the PPNs are effective immediately and apply to the following Contracting Authorities:

  • Central Government Departments
  • Executive agencies
  • Non-departmental public bodies
  • Local authorities
  • NHS bodies
  • The wider public sector

In regards to PPN03/20, those in scope organisations that do not currently use procurement cards are advised to immediately put in place arrangements using the relevant Crown Commercial Service Agreement (Lot 2 of RM3828 Payment Solutions).

Given the recent decline in financial performance, the business is now in breach of its covenants with the bank. Should we be concerned?

That will depend on the terms of your facility and the stance taken by your bank.

Banking facilities often place obligations on businesses to stick to certain financial criteria. For example, an obligation to keep turnover or profit above certain levels or a commitment to keep the bank’s exposure within an agreed percentage of the value of the company’s assets (known as loan to value ratio).

The consequences of breaching those covenants will depend on the terms of your facility, but normally this amounts to an event of default. Events of default can result in the loan (or whatever form the facility takes) becoming repayable and could give the bank certain powers to take action to recover the money that they are owed.

Whether the bank will take action during these unprecedented times is another matter, particularly given the extent of support being offered to businesses via mainstream lenders and the political desire to keep viable businesses up and running. Lenders themselves will no doubt wish to remain supportive where possible. The underlying performance of the business (and whether but for the effects of Covid-19 it would have been in a healthy financial position), the relationship you have with the bank and your history with them will no doubt be relevant to the approach taken by the bank. However, early engagement with your bank (as well as other key stakeholders in the business) will be important.

What should I do if contractor insolvency occurs?

In the event that the worst happens and contractor insolvency occurs, there are a number of steps which the employer should take immediately:

  • Confirm that insolvency has actually occurred and the type of insolvency (for example liquidation or adjudication) – actions taken based on rumours can have adverse consequences
  • Secure the site and carry out an audit of the plant, equipment and materials present – this may extend to changing the locks on site in order to prevent overzealous contractors and sub-contractors seeking to return and take what they see as their possessions. The building contract may contain a provision that these are the employer’s property, but they can be difficult to recover if they are not within the employer’s possession – possession is 9/10ths of the law!
  • Ensure that there are adequate insurance and health and safety arrangements in place for the site – these would usually be dealt with by the contractor and therefore may no longer be in place, so alternative arrangements may be required
  • Ensure that any further payments to the contractor are stopped pending a more detailed review
  • Consider whether any off-site materials have already been paid for and can be secured. This can however be difficult in practice where the materials are not physically within the employer’s possession

In addition, there are also a number of further actions which the employer should consider in the slightly longer term:

  • Investigate the options available and ascertain the cost of completing the works to assist in deciding how best to proceed
  • Consider whether termination of the contractor’s employment under the building contract is required, and if so take the necessary steps in accordance with the building contract
  • Consider whether there are any bonds or guarantees in place upon which the employer can rely, and if so assess their terms as to whether and how to make a claim
  • Make arrangements to complete the works – as a general rule of thumb the cost of completing the works may increase by around 30% if it is necessary to get a replacement contractor
  • Consider whether direct payment to subcontractors is possible or desirable
  • Although we would say this(!) we would strongly recommend taking legal advice, as insolvency and its implications are complex and it is easy to inadvertently fall foul of the various different requirements
What suggestions do you have to raise the profile of the MHFA group in an organisation, particularly with agile working?

Details of your MHFAs should be posted somewhere that everyone can access easily – a specific area on an intranet or whatever alternative exists. Regular comms involving the MHFAs, webinar sessions, Q&A sessions and mental wellbeing drop in sessions are all ideas that may work well.

What other financial resources are available for charities?

Charities can also take advantage of the existing measures the Government has already put in place including deferring their VAT bills, paying no business rates for their shops next year and furloughing staff where possible with the Government paying 80% of their wages under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – see our People and Employment FAQ’s and our Premise and Property FAQ’s.