How have competition law rules been relaxed in the light of the coronavirus outbreak?
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has issued a number of guidance documents about the application of competition law rules during the coronavirus outbreak. In general, the competition law rules are being relaxed in very specific circumstances.
Employers and employees can decide the split of the hours of work and the hours of furlough. There is no maximum or minimum requirements. You can change the arrangement, by agreement, from time to time.
When claiming for employees who are flexibly furloughed, you should not claim until you are sure of the exact hours they will work during the claim period.
The law says that if after assessing a risk and considering all the control measures available to you, you cannot undertake a task safely – then you should not undertake the task.
If that means taking BAME workers out of higher risk frontline work, that is what will have to be done.
Beware of workers saying “we’ll accept the risk” – it does not protect you against regulatory/enforcement action or civil claims.
All organisations have underperformers. Capability is a potentially fair reason to dismiss and is separate to any redundancy procedures.
Generally, capability falls into either absences through illness or underperformance in the role. Those who are absent through sickness can be furloughed, but when furlough comes to an end they will need to go back onto sickness. If you are looking to tackle absence then you need to tackle long term and short term absence in a different way.
Long term absence: You need to establish whether the employee is able to return to work (with or without reasonable adjustments) in the medium term. This requires medical opinion and be careful of disability issues. Reasonable adjustments are likely to be important.
Short term absence: You will need to demonstrate that you have fair absence triggers in place and there is normally be a 3 stage procedure: warning and final warning followed by dismissal on notice. Each stage needs a fair procedure, with written information, a fair hearing and the opportunity to appeal. Be careful of disability issues.
As for underperformance: To tackle this, you will need to have clear SMART objectives in place and evidence of the employee failing to meet these. There would then normally be a 3 stage procedure: warning and final warning followed by dismissal on notice. Each stage needs a fair procedure, with written information, a fair hearing and the opportunity to appeal.
Hosted by Advanced Manufacturing Forum, Partner, Matt Cormack discussed in this webinar how to avoid risks associated with your customer and supply chain contracts during this challenging Covid-19 period.
The webinar covers common questions such as:
- Can force majeure excuse me or my suppliers from paying on time?
- What are the risks to my business if I can’t perform on time due to Covid-19?
- What will happen to my contracts if the Government takes steps to require me to close down my facility?
To watch the full recording, please click here. (To note the recording begins at 10 minutes)
If you have any follow up questions, please do not hesitate to contact one of our lawyers detailed below or use our ‘ask us a question‘ feature.
The guidance gives numerous examples of the types of performance adjustment which parties should consider. For example this includes:
- Varying deadlines (e.g. for performance or payment)
- Varying compensation (e.g. to recognise increased costs)
- Varying the nature of performance (e.g. allowing substitute goods, allowing pert delivery of services)
The guidance also encourages a reasonable approach to enforcement, which might encourage delaying issuing formal proceedings, increased use of mediation or providing more information to the other party than would be volunteered under normal circumstances.