How do I remain compliant and cover any risk?
Data on properties, and people, has never been more important.
Given that compliance is at risk here, such a decision must be made by the Board to ensure good governance. Board approval should be sought and recorded for the approach the organisation is taking.
It is essential that you continue to record your data on compliance and report to your board at all times, and that there is a clear audit trail for issues with access, and if appropriate to the Regulator. Access issues as a result of self-isolation should be readily identifiable.
Operatives need to be provided with the tools to operate in as safe a way as possible:
- Checklist of questions to ascertain occupant’s current health
- Protective equipment (masks, gloves, over clothing)
The Gas Safe website is a useful resource for updates: https://www.gassaferegister.co.uk/help-and-advice/covid-19-advice-and-guidance/
The Home Office has not stated when it will end these temporary measures, albeit it has stated that it will provide a warning. Where employers have carried out checks using the temporary measures, the Home Office has confirmed that it will require employers to carry out retrospective checks on any of the following:
- Employees who started working for you when the temporary measures were in place
- Employees who required a follow up check during the temporary measures (for example because their previous leave was coming to an end).
It is not explicit from the guidance but these retrospective checks must require you to have in your possession the physical ID in its original form. When carrying out the retrospective check, employers must record this using the following wording “the individual’s contract commenced on [insert date]. The prescribed right to work check was undertaken on [insert date] due to Covid-19.”
These further checks must be made within eight weeks of the temporary measures ending, and employers must keep records of both checks undertaken. Where the employer discovers that the employee does not have the right to work during the retrospective check they should stop employing them.
The Government published guidelines on 23 March 2020 concerning house sales.
Estate Agents have been required to close their offices and although staff are allowed to work from home they must not attend properties for any reason.
Therefore, if the property has not yet been put onto the market you will be unable to obtain a proper valuation at present. Also, restrictions on movement means that people must not view properties in person. Therefore you ought to delay marketing.
If you have found a buyer and the property is empty then the transaction can go ahead but you may experience delays in the transaction. For example, if your buyer needs a mortgage there will be a delay in getting a mortgage offer and even if it’s a cash purchase there are likely to be delays with Local Authority Searches.
You should discuss with your conveyancer whether to include special contract conditions. These could take into account what happens if the buyer or someone in the chain falls ill between exchange and completion and cannot move on the anticipated completion date.
If you have exchanged contracts the Government guidelines indicate that the sale of an empty property can go ahead to completion. However, if the contents of the property have not been removed you may have difficulty getting it cleared. Similarly, your buyer or someone else in the conveyancing chain may find that their removers are unable to move them. If this happens, you ought to discuss this with your conveyancer and your buyer as soon as possible to see if completion can be delayed to a later date.
Court hearings have been conducted remotely, with the judgment in Kerry v SSCLG being given via telephone. The Senior President of Tribunals issued emergency Practice Directions which will apply to Property and Lands Chambers’ respectively. This has made provision for remote hearings. Inspections of properties have been suspended with immediate effect, with photographs, videos or external visits permitted where appropriate. Where inspections are essential, the case should be stayed.
The key factors for determining status for employment and tax purposes are generally the same. However there are some cases that highlight the different approaches taken by employment tribunals and HMRC when determining status. The important thing to consider for IR35 purposes is that being deemed employed for tax purposes does not mean a contractor is ’employed’. PSC’s can still be used in moving forward but there are likely to be discussions on the commercial aspects of the contractor arrangement. Employment status for tax purposes is likely to come at a cost for both parties.
As we move to look at re-opening businesses and getting people back into the workplace there is work to be done by employers, firstly in planning how they are going to do this, and secondly, communicating those plans to staff. The only way in which businesses are going to be able to manage the transition back to some form of normality is by speaking to their staff and re-assuring them about the measures that will be put in place to safeguard their health and safety in order to enable them to return. Any successful return to work will need to based on carefully thought out plans and providing re-assurances to employees that necessary action is being taken.
Employers will be focusing on:
- How do I get my workforce back safely, and
- How do I give my workforce the confidence to return.