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.
Yes. Government guidance now confirms that employers can be required to take holiday during a period of furlough, so long as they are given minimum notice to do so. The notice required is double the length of the holiday.
Employers are also able to cancel employees’ holidays (or require them not to take holiday) if they are on furlough, for example if they are not in a position to pay the additional 20% top up to their normal wages (or more where they earn in excess of the £2,500 monthly cap on furlough payments). Again, employers are required to provide a minimum period of notice of cancellation, which in this case, is the length of the planned holiday.
Employers can ask employees to take or cancel holiday with less notice but they would need to get their agreement to do so.
Government guidance has been updated to state that “Employees should not be placed on furlough for a period simply because they are on holiday for that period.” If a period of furlough happens to coincide with an employee’s holiday then you should ensure that there are business grounds to support furlough being used in that instance so that it isn’t just being used as a means to fund holiday utilisation.
You can claim for regular payments you are obliged to pay staff such as non-discretionary overtime, non-discretionary fees, non-discretionary commission and piece-time payments. Overtime in this context is referred to as ‘past overtime’ in the updated guidance which would suggest that you should use the variable pay calculation (see FAQ above) for those who regularly carry out overtime.
No, where employees cannot work from home, and it is safe for them to return to work, they should do so.
If the debts owed to you pre-date Covid-19 and your debtor seemed unable to pay well before the Covid-19 pandemic took place, it is entirely possible that you will be able to present a petition on the grounds that the debtor would have been unable to pay its debts even if the Covid-19 had no effect on its financial position. We do not yet have any reliable precedent as to how the Courts are likely to deal with such cases. Whether you are likely to succeed will depend on the exact circumstances of the debt and your debtor. There has been one case decided in August 2020 where the Court concluded that Covid-19 did not have a financial effect upon the debtor and that the circumstances which gave rise to the petition had arisen long before Covid and would have occurred in any event. A winding up order was made in that case. What we do know about the court’s approach is that the purpose of the Act is to allow viable companies to trade through the current times and the Court is likely to set the bar high.
Please contact us if there a debt you would like to discuss. Even if presenting a winding up petition is not available for now, there may still be other forms of legal proceedings that you can use to collect money owed to you, like county court proceedings.
The Government has produced workplace guidance for employers, setting out 2 key messages for employers:
- Continue to make workplaces as safe as possible; and
- Encourage workers to heed any notifications to self-isolate and to support them while they are require to isolate
Government guidance can be accessed here: How it works (an overview) and Workplace guidance for employers.