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.
The government released further clarification on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme on 4 April. The wording referred to concerning public sector organisations and organisations receiving public funding remains the same.
The revised guidance does provide a helpful insight into how HMRC will deal with applications made to it for assistance under the scheme. It appears that there won’t be a particularly forensic approach adopted by HMRC. The guidance says you can furlough staff if you cannot maintain your current workforce because your operations have been severely affected by coronavirus.
It goes on to say that all employers are eligible to claim under the scheme and the government recognises different businesses/organisations will face different impacts from coronavirus. The need to demonstrate the impact of coronavirus on your business/organisation is not one of the criteria businesses/organisations are going to need to satisfy, so the government does not appear to intend to set a specific test to determine if a business/organisation is “severely impacted by coronavirus”. It is hoped that this should provide additional comfort to publicly funded organisations facing significant restrictions to their operations during the Covid-19 crisis.Read more about this
Yes, this is very likely to amount to a reasonable management instruction which is put in place for public health reasons. Employers should make it clear to their employees that this is something they are required to do and that if they fail to do so this may lead to disciplinary action.Read more about this
Civil Court listing priorities, last updated by HMCTS on 24 April 2020, categorise the Court’s work into the following:
Priority 1 – work that must be done: this includes any applications in cases listed for trial in the next 3 months, any applications where there is a substantial hearing listed in the next month, all multi-track hearings where parties agree that it is urgent (subject to triage).
Priority 2 – work that could be done: Infant and Protected Party approvals, Applications for interim payments in multi-track / personal injury / clinical negligence cases, Applications to set aside Judgment in default, Preliminary Assessment of costs.
The full guidance can be found at:Read more about this
To qualify for a grant under the scheme you must pay your furloughed staff the wages you are claiming for. Failure to do so may result in a HMRC investigation and/or claims from furloughed staff for unlawful deductions from wages and possibly constructive dismissal claims.
Normal benefits including non-monetary benefits should continue during furlough unless the individual has agreed in writing to reduce or remove a benefit during this time.
Employers are expected to apply for one or more of the financial support schemes available to be able to continue to pay staff.Read more about this
Specialist healthcare lawyers from Ward Hadaway ran a free webinar looking at the practical and legal considerations if required to treat healthcare workers from a BAME background or other vulnerable groups differently in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.Read more about this