Can we require employees to have their temperatures taken on the way in to work, and is this something we should be doing?
If such testing is regarded as a “reasonably practicable step” which has been identified as an appropriate control following a risk assessment then it is something you can do.
Although you can’t physically force someone to have something intrusive done, this is very likely to be a reasonable management instruction and therefore if someone refuses to have this done as a condition of entry into the work place then disciplinary action may follow.
Where this is something that is required of employees, employers should be letting their staff know that this is one of a number of measures that are being introduced into the workplace for their own safety. If the employer can explain, in advance of the return, why temperature checks need to be taken, what the consequences of the results will be- i.e. will they be sent home if over a certain temperature, whether this data will be stored (and if the sole purpose is to determine whether or not they are fit to attend work on a particular day then why are they being stored), and the fact that temperature checks are a requirement of entry to company premises for everyone, then there shouldn’t be significant resistance to this measure.
Large scale temperature checks have in some businesses become part of the “new normal” working environment.
Although these measures fall short of the level of assurance given to employees both in terms of eligibility for an immediacy of access to payments, they are a vast improvement on the support for self-employed workers that has been put in place until now. Current support includes:
- Access to business interruption loans
- Self-assessment tax payments that were due in July 2020 have been deferred until January 2021
- VAT is deferred until the next quarter
- The introduction of Time to Pay arrangements under which deferrals for HMRC payments can be agreed
- The minimum income floor for universal credit has been suspended which will allow self-employed workers to access the equivalent of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
- Universal credit and tax credit payments to increase by £1000 per year
It could be possible depending on your contract. If there is no force majeure clause in a contract, it may be possible that the contract may have been “frustrated” by emergency legislation. In legal terms, a contract can be frustrated where an event occurs after it is entered into which was not contemplated by any party at the outset, is not due to the fault of any party, and which makes the performance of the contract impossible.
If this is the case, the contract could be “discharged”, meaning that the parties’ obligations under the contract are no longer binding.
It is possible that a contract could be frustrated within this particular legal doctrine by a change in the law that makes performance of a contract illegal. However, if it simply becomes more difficult, or more expensive, then the legal tests for frustration might not be satisfied. There are also limits to the application of the rule if the frustrating event was already known about at the time the contracted was entered into.
Again, careful legal advice will be required at an early stage. The rules about force majeure or frustration might help businesses that find themselves unable to perform a contract because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Any new contracts that are concluded should expressly deal with the possibility that performance might become more difficult, more costly, or impossible to perform.
This may be a good idea – whatever name they are given, it is essential that MHFAs are empowered to take a proactive approach to organisational mental health and that they have the bandwidth to be able to discharge their responsibilities. The name should reflect the culture of the organisation, the key aspect is awareness and accessibility – identifying a name for your company that supports this is key.
The National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) issued guidance mid-April confirming that you can move to a friend’s address for several days to “cool off” following an argument at home. You should strongly consider either yourself or your spouse moving elsewhere where children are involved as it prevents the children from witnessing conflict within the home, at what is already an emotionally charged time for them. Nevertheless, you should also consider and take legal advice on the financial implications of either of you or your partner moving out and how contact with the children is going to be promoted with both parents, if suitable. The Government Guidance has confirmed that children can be moved between households if they have separated parents.
It is still possible to issue Divorce proceedings and much of the process has now been taken online. The main divorce suit is dealt with separately to the separation of financial assets and children arrangements, which can often take much longer to review and discuss. While staff shortages may mean slower turn-around times there is no reason to suspect that a divorce will not otherwise go ahead as anticipated. Once coronavirus has passed, it is likely that divorce rates will spike and there will be an increased demand on the Court system, so your divorce process may take longer if you delay filing your divorce.
It is also still possible to issue Court Applications regarding any financial settlements or children arrangements, however, the Court system was already under significant pressure before coronavirus, so the pandemic will only add to that and we expect Court processes to significantly be slower in those areas.
Court Applications should in any event be used as a last resort and there are alternative dispute resolution processes available which you should consider, including Arbitration and Mediation. Family lawyers are continuing to advise and assist individuals, manage their separations and can provide information about the options available, using alternative methods of communication such as Teams, Skype or Zoom for clients. Understandably, speaking aloud may be difficult in circumstances where you are not able to get any private time away from your spouse due to you being in lockdown and so email correspondence may be the most appropriate method of communication.
Employees who are union or non-union representatives may undertake duties and activities for the purpose of individual or collective representation of employees or other workers. However in doing this, they must not provide services to or generate revenue for, or on behalf of your organisation or a linked or associated organisation.
Employees who are pension scheme trustees or trustee directors of a corporate trustee may also undertake trustee duties in relation to the pension scheme. However, a professional, independent pension scheme trustee who has been furloughed by the independent trustee company cannot undertake trustee work that would provide services to or generate revenue for, or on behalf of, the independent trustee company or any organisation linked or associated with that independent trustee company during hours when they are recorded as being on furlough.