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 Flexible Furlough Scheme, ‘FFS’ an unfortunate acronym, allows employees to work for some of the week and be furloughed for the rest.
Where a couple is not married, they have limited rights in relation to each other’s assets and these mainly relate to rights over property assets. There is complex Trust law which governs whether or not your partner could claim an interest in your property and it generally relates to where someone has invested in renovations on the property or promises have been made. If this is something you are concerned about, you and your partner could enter in to a Cohabitation Agreement. These Agreements can set out various matters, including who will pay the bills and where each of you would live if you separated. Most importantly, they can record your intentions about who owns the property and exclude any rights your partner would have against your property.
Potentially. The first question is why the person is not able to return, as their individual circumstances will be very relevant in terms of whether they can be safely dismissed.
Employers should ask themselves 2 questions in this situation:
- Have I done everything I am required to do in order to make the workplace safe for the individual to return; and
- Is what the employee saying reasonable?
If the answer to question 1. is no then a dismissal is unlikely to be fair. However, even if the answer to question 1. is yes, then there is still question 2. to address. If the employee has reasonable grounds as to why they are unable to return to work, e.g. due to health issues, childcare responsibilities etc then the dismissal is unlikely to be fair. It is only if you can answer yes to question 1. and no to question 2. that you can have some confidence in the potential safety of the dismissal.
Dismissals based on objections to returning to work on health and safety grounds will very often be risky and are highly fact specific, therefore please contact one of the employment team for further advice prior to dismissal.
There are two stages:
- Stage 1 – The provision of written information to the representatives.
- Stage 2 – Consultation on the proposed redundancies “with a view to reaching agreement” about certain matters
Stage 1: Provision of information
The first stage in the collective consultation process is to provide the representatives with written information including details of the proposed redundancies (often called a section 188 letter). This information must be given to the appropriate representatives and the time limit before dismissals can take effect does not start to run until they have received it. It is this information which ‘starts the clock’.
It is possible that there will be changes to the proposals during the consultation process: indeed that is part of the reason for the process. The employer’s obligation is not just to provide the appropriate representatives with the relevant information at the start of the process. It is under a continuing obligation to provide them with information in writing about any developments during the consultation process (although later changes do not ‘restart the clock’ before dismissals can take effect).
Stage 2: Consultation on the proposed redundancies “with a view to reaching agreement” about certain matters
The consultation process must include consultation “with a view to reaching agreement with the appropriate representatives” on ways of:
- Avoiding the dismissals
- Reducing the number of employees to be dismissed
- Mitigating the consequences of the dismissals
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.