How much notice do I need to give people to return to work?
There is no minimum period of notice you are required to give employees of their return, but from a good HR practice point of view you should be speaking to your staff and letting them know what the plan is; giving people a reasonable amount of notice of return will allow them to prepare both practically and psychologically.
A licence to occupy premises is not an interest land and operates as a commercial contract between the parties that enter into it. Licences tend to be put in place to cover short periods and consequently they are generally a lot more flexible than commercial leasing arrangements. To that extent occupants under licences should review the contract to establish whether or not there are any provision allowing them to terminate on notice to the Licensor.
Occupants under licences that are granted for longer periods without the option to terminate may try to argue that the contract has frustrated because they are effectively unable to occupy.
It would apply if the contractor uses an intermediary to provide their services or labour and they would be deemed to be an employee or office holder for tax purposes if they were hired directly by the end user client rather than via the intermediary PSC. This would of course require an assessment of employment status for tax purposes.
Contractors who are not taxed in the UK and supply their services exclusively from outside of the UK are unaffected.
If IR35 applies, tax and NIC’s should be deducted under PAYE by the PSC. In reality this has not been happening so a major reform of the regime was due to be implemented in April 2020. The changes were postponed by one year and are due to take effect from 6 April 2021.
“Within IR35” means a contractor arrangement is caught by IR35 and the individual should be taxed as an employee.
“Outside IR35” means a contractor arrangement is not caught by IR35 and the contractor status is fine.
During these unusual times, we are all having to adapt to what has become the ‘new normal’ and implement changes in how we carry out civil cases. If you are to give evidence in a remote hearing, whether this is by Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business or the Cloud Video Platform, we have pulled together a quick and useful guide below on what would be expected by the courts:
Before the hearing
- Make sure that you have access to the video-conferencing software that will be needed for the hearing. We will tell our clients and their witnesses in advance which platform will be used. The courts have increasingly been using Skype for Business to conduct the hearings (but you may find other platforms being used)
- Test that your camera and microphone are working and it is clear to see/hear you.
- Dress appropriately, as if it was an in-person hearing, and use the same formalities.
- Ensure that the background which is visible on your screen is appropriate and allows for your face to be clearly seen. A ‘blur background’ option may also be available on your settings which you may prefer.
- Make sure that your mobile phone is on silent and you are in a location where there will be no/minimal distractions. You should be on your own in a room when giving evidence, however, as we have all experienced with working from home, sometimes interruptions such as children appearing cannot be avoided.
- Join the call ahead of the allocated time, in order to allow for any small technical difficulties.
During the hearing
- Have a copy of the hearing bundle to hand, so that you can follow the proceedings (this may be in hard copy or soft copy). You are not allowed any other notes or papers, whether hard copy or electronic, in front of you when giving evidence.
- Unless addressing the Judge or you have been directly asked a question, keep your microphone muted.
- When giving evidence, you must make sure both your camera and your microphone are switched on.
- Remote hearings can be difficult and if you do not understand or you do not hear a question properly, then do ask for the question to be repeated/re-framed.
- You should not move away from the screen without permission from the Judge. The Judge will allow time for breaks.
- Address the judiciary and other advocates the same way as you would if you were in a physical courtroom.
- It is permitted to drink water throughout the hearing, but mugs of tea and/or coffee are probably best avoided. It is also not permitted to eat food during the hearing.
- Don’t panic if someone walks into the room or the dog starts barking because there is a knock at the door. Judges are only too aware about what might happen. Communication is key and if the interruption has interfered with your train of thought or the evidence you are giving then do say so.
- Be aware that all evidence is recorded and that a transcript of all evidence can be obtained at a later date.
An obvious cost cutting measure is to reduce salaries, either temporarily or permanently. If you are to seek a reduction in salaries, this should be done fairly – either across the board or by selecting teams/individuals based on objective business reasons.
Note that this cannot be imposed without significant risk. Without agreement, this would need fair selection and consultation.
It would be prudent to take legal advice early in relation to any issue you foresee in performing a contract. This will allow you to:
- Ensure that initial contact with your counterparty is framed in the correct way
- Ensure that any variations are fully documented so that both parties are fully protected