How do I apply for an extension to Companies House?
The application is made via the Companies House website, and only takes a few minutes to complete. Companies House have indicated that the extension is “automatic and immediate” and will be for three months.
Having said that the extension is “automatic”, their website also says that Companies that have already extended their filing deadline, or shortened their accounting reference period, may not be eligible for an extension.
If an extension is granted, it will not affect the due date for filing accounts in future years – so the deadline will revert to the usual date for the next accounting period.
The Regulations do not require any prior agreement between an employer and employee that it was not reasonably practicable for holiday to be taken for it to be carried over.
However, if an employee requests holiday then an employer must have ‘good reason’ for refusing it due to coronavirus. The term ‘good reason’ is not defined so the Government will expect employers, employees and (if necessary on any dispute) the Courts to apply common sense.
The Regulations are not confined to key workers so could, in principle, be used by employers for a wider range of employees.
The Government guidance suggests that the following factors should be taken into account when considering whether it was reasonably practicable to take the leave in the relevant year:
- Whether the business has faced a significant increase in demand due to COVID-19 that would reasonably require the worker to continue to be at work and cannot be met through alternative practical measures.
- The extent to which the business’ workforce is disrupted by COVID-19 and the practical options available to the business to provide temporary cover of essential activities.
- The health of the worker and how soon they need to take a period of rest and relaxation.
- The length of time remaining in the worker’s leave year.
- The extent to which the worker taking leave would impact on wider society’s response to, and recovery from, the effects of COVID-19.
- The ability of the remainder of the available workforce to provide cover for the worker going on leave.
The Thriving at Work Report and the recent NICE Workplace Mental Health Guidelines provide a good baseline for what all organisations should be doing on workplace mental health – this includes some guidance on training. There does need to be a plan in place and we recommend taking a holistic view of the integration of mental health first aiders into a business – ie it should be one component in a strategy that also comprises training for line managers, awareness training and education for all staff, peer support, and a documented framework for support and signposting. It is also worth ensuring you have senior manager sponsorship, strong links with Occupational Health if available and also raising awareness via any works councils or employee forums helps ensure there is buy in at all levels.
If an employer is not put on notice that the circumstances of a worker or agency worker are such that they ought to be self-isolating, by either the worker or agency worker themselves or another member of staff, then there ought to be a reasonable excuse, and potentially, no fixed penalty notice will be issued.
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 CMA is particularly concerned about certain activities, its guidance highlights:
- Exchange of commercially sensitive information where this is not necessary in response to the crisis
- Collaboration which unfairly excludes third parties
- Abuse of a dominant position (including a dominant position held as a result of the crisis) – particularly to charge excessive prices
- Seeking to maintain prices or prevent reductions in prices
- Cooperation going beyond what is necessary to respond to the crisis in the interests of consumers