Is it possible to apply for a grant of probate at the moment?
Yes. The system for Probate Applications has moved on-line and continues to be available as well as by post. However, if you need to complete an Inheritance Tax Return IHT400 you are likely to experience problems collating information due to delays in many organisations being able to provide you with current values while their offices are closed and staff working remotely. Property valuations will be particularly problematic where surveyors or valuers are unable to attend properties to undertake non-urgent work. If you cannot wait, you must use your best endeavours to be as accurate as possible as regards the information you provide in the IHT400 and follow up by providing HMRC with actual values as soon as you can do so. HM Courts and Tribunal Service is however warning that delays can be expected at this time.
Homeworking can cause work-related stress and affect people’s mental health and being away from managers and colleagues could make it difficult to get proper supervision and support.
Encourage your employees to keep in touch. Put procedures in place so you can keep in direct contact with home workers and can recognise signs of stress as early as possible. Use group chat and video chat tools imaginatively.
Have an emergency point of contact and share this so people know how to get help if they need it.
People are much more anxious than usual and may be less productive as a result – recognise this and try to be patient.
The GMC recognises the challenges the doctors may face as the situation continues to develop. This includes concerns about the risks to the health of the doctors when treating patients with coronavirus. Doctors should follow the current public health advice including self-isolating if they know or suspect that they are infected or are at a higher risk of infection.
Finally, all necessary steps should be taken to ensure that doctors have access to protective equipment and minimise the risk of transmission when treating patients. It is imperative that a record is kept of all decisions made and how any safety or health concerns have been handled.
The GMC continues to work with NHS England and UK’s Chief Medical Officers to provide updates and advice to all doctors as the situation develops. Click here for more information.
There has been a significant amount of press coverage talking about institutional racism within the NHS not only in terms of the treatment of patients but also in terms of the low representation of ethnic minority staff in management positions. Whilst tackling that issue is beyond the brief here, it is important to recognise that sub conscious bias can, regrettably, play a part in decision making processes. An Employment Tribunal will explore a alleged discriminator’s conscious and sub conscious decision making and working in an environment which has not set out sufficient controls to avoid such sub conscious stereotyping places someone at a greater risk of being discriminated against.
In the context of the issues we are addressing here, i.e. risk assessments around BAME staff, as we have stated above, it is essential that BAME staff are represented at all levels in the discussion. Trusts need to be mindful that BAME are underrepresented in management positions.
BAME staff need to be included in the dialogue and need to have a safe place where they can challenge decisions that are being made in relation to them. There needs to be accountability in the processes applied. Meaningful conversations need to happen and concerns should not be dismissed.
The government has produced a series of industry specific “Covid-19 Secure” guidelines, which employers should follow. These guidelines are designed to keep the risk of infection as low as possible, while allowing as many people as possible to resume their livelihoods.
The guidance is helpful and is likely to be useful to businesses as they seek to respond to the crisis and to restart their business activities as lockdown is eased. However, there remain outstanding questions. For example, can collaboration to prevent widespread insolvencies be viewed as in the interest of consumers? Businesses need to remain aware of the extremely high stakes involved in relation to competition law. Businesses contemplating collaboration with competitors should take legal advice before doing so.