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.
If a contract contains a force majeure clause this may become operative due to the coronavirus pandemic and related emergency legislation. Such clauses exist to ensure that if some unforeseen event prevents a party from being able to perform their obligations under a contract, either on time or at all, they will be excused from their obligations and not be held liable for non-performance.
The clause must actually be written into the contract to have effect – a force majeure clause cannot be implied into a contract. Whether it can be relied on by a party will depend on the wording of the clause itself as it may only be applicable in certain limited circumstances.
You should seek legal advice at an early stage if you think that force majeure is relevant, because a number of potentially complex issues must be addressed, many of which will turn upon the exact wording of the force majeure clause in the contract in question:
- Has a force majeure event actually arisen?
- What notification process do you have to follow to rely on the provision?
- What mitigation steps do you have to take?
- What is the effect of the force majeure event – is the contract suspended, or can it be terminated (which might not be what you want)?
Residents will be obliged to:
- Not act in a way that creates a significant risk of a building safety risk materialising
- Not interfere with building safety equipment in the common parts
- Comply with an Accountable Person’s request for information in relation to the assessment and management of building safety risks.
The Accountable Person then has powers in relation to these duties, including:
- Issuing a contravention notice, requiring a resident to pay for replacement or repair of safety equipment which they have interfered with
- Applying for court orders in certain situations
- Requesting access at a reasonable time (in writing with at least 48 hours’ notice) to a resident’s property for the purposes of assessing or managing building safety risks, or checking compliance with the resident’s duties as above.
Secondary legislation is still awaited to bring these provisions into force, so the timing is unknown, but it will likely be within the next 12 months in line with the anticipated timetable for the remainder of the Act.
- Trusts should allow for telephone advice rather than face-to-face review from critical care when clinically appropriate.
- Hospitals should discuss the sharing of resources and the transfer of patients between units, including units in other hospitals, to ensure the best use of critical care within the NHS.
Please note, the above is intended to provide a summary of the key recommendations which emerge from this guidance. Access to the full guidance can be found here.
The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme will repay employers the SSP paid to current or former employees and will be available from 26 May 2020. See here.
The scheme covers all types of employment contracts and employers will be eligible to claim if they:
- Are claiming for an employee who is eligible for sick pay due to coronavirus
- Had a payroll scheme that was created and started on or before 28 February 2020
- Had fewer than 250 employees on 28 February 2020
The repayment will cover up to 2 weeks starting from the first qualifying day of sickness, if an employee is unable to work because they either:
- have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms
- cannot work because they are self-isolating because someone they live with has symptoms
- are shielding and have a letter from the NHS or a GP telling them to stay at home for at least 12 weeks
- have been notified by the NHS or public health bodies that they’ve come into contact with someone with coronavirus
- they have been notified by the NHS to self-isolate before surgery
You can claim for periods of sickness starting on or after:
- 13 March 2020 – if your employee had coronavirus or the symptoms or is self-isolating because someone they live with has symptoms; or
- 16 April 2020 – if your employee was shielding because of coronavirus.
- 28 May 2020 – if your employee has been notified by the NHS or public health bodies that they’ve come into contact with someone with coronavirus
- 26 August 2020 – if your employee has been notified by the NHS to self-isolate before surgery
Employees do not have to give you a doctor’s fit note for you to make a claim. But you can ask them to give you either:
- an isolation note from NHS 111 – if they are self-isolating and cannot work because of coronavirus
- the NHS or GP letter telling them to stay at home for at least 12 weeks because they’re at high risk of severe illness from coronavirus
- the evidence from the NHS or public health body requiring them to self-isolate
You must keep the following records in relation to a claim you make under the scheme for three years:
- The reason for the employee’s absence
- Details of each period the employee could not work, including start and end dates
- Details of the SSP qualifying days when the employee could not work
- National insurance numbers for each employee you have paid SSP to
You’ll need to print or save your state aid declaration (from your claim summary) and keep this until 31 December 2024.
- Is the individual held out as being employed by the business by having a company email address, uniform, how would they introduce themselves to customers?
- Is the contractor restricted from working for other organisations without the consent of the end user client?
- Length of engagement:
- Is the contractor engaged to work on a specific project for a defined period? Or are they engaged for an indefinite period with no reference to a specific task or project?
- Are there regular fixed payments or is payment on completion of specific task or commission based? Is the contractor entitled to benefits or bonuses?
- Does the contractor provide their own equipment and materials to provide the services?
- Financial risk:
- Is the contractor personally responsible for any loss arising from their work in performing the services? Will they have to rectify unsatisfactory work at their own time and expense? Will they have the opportunity to profit from the success of a project?