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I am due to file accounts at Companies House, but have been unable to complete them due to Covid-19. What should I do?

Every company has to file accounts at Companies House every year. If they are filed late, a fine is automatically levied. If there is a long delay in filing them, the directors are at risk of prosecution and the Registrar of Companies might start a process which could ultimately lead to the company being struck from the register.

However, Companies House has recognised that businesses might currently face exceptional problems in preparing and filing their accounts on time and so have posted a notice on their website which says that if immediately before the filing deadline, it becomes apparent that accounts will not be filed on time due to coronavirus, you can make an application to extend the period allowed for filing.

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Other considerations – the mental health and wellbeing of BAME staff and others

Undeniably and understandably BAME staff, as well as those staff who are identified as being at a higher risk, are going to have high levels of stress and anxiety. For some, this may become of such severity that those staff should be considered to be disabled under the Equality Act 2010. The question as to whether someone is disabled is one that should be answered in conjunction with appropriate medical advice. But the question about how to support any staff suffering with stress and anxiety should not be left until that stage. Proactive steps need to be taken and expert advice obtained on what support measures should be put in place. We know that many NHS organisations are already giving the mental wellbeing of their staff the highest priority.

From our perspective, we would ask managers to be mindful that stress and anxiety is likely to feature in how an individual reacts to questions about the level of risk to their health and the impact on their duties. The conversations with some staff may not be easy to have and may be met with challenge.

For those staff who’s stress and anxiety is such that it would qualify as a disability, reasonable  adjustments will need to be considered to the processes that you are applying.

An additional point to consider – it might be worth writing to all staff, asking them to come forward if they have any health conditions that they think you ought to be aware of, assuring them that such information is being given in the strictest confidence. You want to make sure that you are taking the appropriate measures to ensure their health and safety.

What is in the WH Toolkit?

We have developed a toolkit to assist with compliance. The Toolkit contains a specimen contract; detailed guidance; step by step guides and flowcharts; details of the factors to take into account for the status determination test; procedures for challenging the determination; and standard letters for the process.  Click here to fill in a form and register your interest in the Toolkit, which contains:

  1. Detailed guidance in the form of Key Facts
  2. Employment status checklist
  3. Employment status assessment flowchart
  4. Status questionnaire and guidance
  5. Letter confirming self-employed status (agency)
  6. Letter confirming employed status (agency)
  7. Letter confirming self-employed status (direct with PSC)
  8. Letter confirming employed status (direct with PSC)
  9. Status disagreement process guidance
  10. Status disagreement process flowchart
  11. Letter confirming outcome of status disagreement process
  12. Consultancy agreement
What are the temporary adjustments to Right To Work checks?

To facilitate social distancing the Home Office has stated that as of 30 March 2020, the following are permitted:

  • The RTW check can now take place over video call.
  • Job applicants no longer have to send original documents but can send scanned copies or photos to the employer.
  • Where the job applicant cannot provide these documents, employers can use the Employer Checking Service and if they have the right to work, then the employer will receive a Positive Verification Notice which will provide the employer with a statutory excuse for 6 months.

These adjustments remain in place until the Home Office confirms otherwise.

 

What agreements will the CMA choose not to take enforcement action in respect of?

CMA guidance suggests that it will not take enforcement action in respect of agreements which:

  • Are appropriate and necessary to avoid a shortage, or ensure security, of supply
  • Are clearly in the public interest
  • Contribute to the benefit or wellbeing of consumers
  • Deal with critical issues that arise as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic
  • Last no longer than is necessary to deal with these critical issues
What does information and consultation involve?

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