Do I need to treat everyone the same and bring them all back at the same time?
No. You should always treat employees consistently and fairly, but this doesn’t mean treating them all the same, or applying the same requirements. For those employees who have been homeworking and doing so without any problems, then they should be allowed to continue to do so.
We would anticipate that the vast majority, if not all, businesses will be approaching the return on a phased basis, which inevitably means some employees returning to work sooner than others. In reality then, you aren’t treating everyone the same, but try to be fair and consistent; you need to do what works best from a business perspective, but can you rotate people, require them to come in at different times etc. Where people perceive that the planned return is being worked out fairly they are far more likely to buy into this, which will help avoid resentments building up between colleagues.
The Bill allows the Secretary of State to make regulations to temporarily extend various filing date deadlines for companies. These include deadlines for filings accounts, confirmation statements, charges register, director and secretary appointments and resignations. The extended period must not exceed 42 days where the existing period is up to 21 days, or 12 months where the existing period is 3, 6 or 9 months.
As long as you can demonstrate that you have exercised reasonable care in determining status you have discharged your obligations in that respect. However, if you are unable to demonstrate this, you may as the end user client be responsible for the contractor’s tax and NIC’s.
Small suppliers (defined by reference to certain financial indicators) are temporarily exempt from these new restrictions until 30th March 2021 in order to account for the difficulties to small suppliers during the Covid-19 pandemic.
There are also certain industries that are exempt from these restrictions (for example financial services). The Secretary of State may also create further exemptions framed by reference to kinds of company, supplier, contract, goods or services or in any other way.
If your 30-day visa to travel to the UK (vignette) has expired or is about to, you can request a replacement free of charge until the end of 2020 by contacting the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre. This can be granted with new and extended validity dates to allow travel once you are able to.
There are several options that can be used at this time to try and settle disputes. If it is not possible to settle a dispute via direct discussions between the parties then some form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”) might be appropriate. Mediation is the most popular form of ADR. Most people’s perception of mediation is that it needs to be in person but that does not have to be the case.
Mediation can take place online or on the telephone. Most, if not all, ADR providers remain open for business and are quickly changing their business model to ensure that mediations can still take place. Mediation can be arranged at reasonably short notice and certainly so far as the online model is concerned, it mirrors the process that is adopted when parties appear in person. Online mediation allows for joint sessions with the mediator to take place and also for the parties to break out into their respective rooms for private discussions. If a dispute settles at mediation – and the vast majority do – then the agreement reached between the parties is binding and can be enforced.
A group of senior former judges and legal academics have now called for an acceleration in the use of ADR in light of the current circumstances. They have stated that courts should promote “and where appropriate require” the use of ADR. Mediation has particularly seen an increase in growth at this time.
ADR normally results in a quicker outcome than if the matter proceeds in the courts. Due to its conciliatory nature it is a very useful process where parties continue to be in a trading relationship. Contracting parties should also consider building ADR into dispute resolution clauses in their contracts so that in the event there is a dispute the focus is on resolving the dispute as soon as possible before it escalates into litigation.”