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Introduction – How am I going to get people back into the workplace?

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.

Related FAQs

Is the Land Registry functioning?

Yes. The Land Registry published a new service update on 14 May, here:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-impact-on-hm-land-registrys-service

Importantly, the Land Registry will process registrations where documents have been executed using the Mercury signing approach:

For land registration purposes, a signature page will need to be signed in pen and witnessed in person (not by a video call). The signature will then need to be captured, with a scanner or a camera, to produce a PDF, JPEG or other suitable copy of the signed signature page. Each party sends a single email to their conveyancer to which is attached the final agreed copy of the document and the copy of the signed signature page.

To summarise some further points:

  • Most information enquiries are experiencing minimal delays
  • Registrations of new titles, such as on sales of part or new leases, and applications to update existing titles, are experiencing more significant delays but can be expedited via the expedite service
  • Cancellation dates for replying to requisitions are extended until further notice
  • Access to free documents on the land registry portal has been extended to 90 days from completion of the transaction
  • Identity requirements have been relaxed. The Land Registry will now raise a requisition for identity documents, and not cancel applications
  • Requests for extensions to a notice or objection period will be granted if lawfully possible
  • Land charges searches can be submitted electronically with PDF documents
I’m in the process of litigation. What happens during the coronavirus outbreak?

The best advice is that parties should proceed as they would have done before the crisis began.

My planning permission is due to expire, can I extend the period for implementation?

The Government announced on 22 June 2020 that it would be making provisions to enable planning permissions that have lapsed since 23 March 2020, and those that are due to lapse before the end of 2020, to be automatically extended.
The Government’s detailed proposals are set out in section 17 of the Business and Planning Act 2020, which entered the statute books on 22 July 2020. If a relevant planning permission is subject to a condition which requires the development to be begun no later than between 19 August 2020 (when section 17 of the Business and Planning Act 2020 will come into effect) and 31 December 2020, the condition is automatically deemed to instead provide that the development must be begun no later than 1 May 2021.

The Act also makes provision for any conditions requiring development to be begun between 23 March 2020 and 19 August 20202 to be extended to 1 May 2021, although this is not automatic. Where the provisions have such retrospective effect, an application is required to the local planning authority. The local planning authority are only able to grant approval, however, if they are satisfied that any EIA and habitats assessments continue to be valid. Deemed approval provisions will apply if the local planning authority do not determine any application within 28 days. The local planning authority are not able to approve such applications after 31 December 2020 so applications should be made in good time in advance of this date. There is the possibility of an appeal against the local planning authority’s decision but notice of the appeal must be submitted before 31 December 2020.

The Act includes similar provisions in relation to both detailed and outline planning permissions.

How do you ensure clinical governance around MHFAs?

MHFAs are not qualified mental health medical professionals and they should not be diagnosing or giving medical advice, however, their training will equip them to provide initial support to those experiencing symptoms of mental ill health, and to signpost to further professional help when needed. The MHFA training makes the boundaries of the MHFA role very clear and there should be clearly defined role specifications, procedures and support pathways in place to ensure that individuals are referred on appropriately. There should be peer support in place for MHFAs and a system in place to ensure no individual or individuals are overloaded.

Is my business covered by insurance for notifiable diseases?

Unfortunately, losses caused by pandemics are not often covered expressly under standard policies, as the risk has been difficult for insurers to price and understand.

Even where additional cover in respect of notifiable diseases has been purchased, it typically will not include Covid-19 within the range of diseases covered by the policy. If the policy includes a list of notifiable diseases, and which does not include Covid-19, it is very unlikely that cover will be available for pandemic-relates losses.

The most common types of covers that could be afforded by insurance policies for coronavirus-related losses and liabilities are traditional business interruption insurance, contingent business interruption insurance, liability insurance, as well as cancellation and abandonment insurance.