What are the early warning signs that a contractor may be in financial difficulty?
As the project progresses, it is important to continually monitor the contractor’s performance. Any one or more of the items below can be early warning signs that the contractor is in financial difficulty, and that further actions may be necessary:
- Decrease in labour or contractor’s personnel on site, and/or rapid turnover of contractor’s personnel
- Slowdown in progress on site
- Plant, equipment or materials suddenly disappearing from site for no apparent reason – unpaid subcontractors may unilaterally decide to remove items from site regardless of their contractual rights to do so
- An increasing number of defects and reduction in the quality of the contractor’s work
- The contractor seeking changes in the payment arrangements, and in particular early payments
- The contractor making spurious claims or contra charges
- The contractor seeking assignment of its benefit of the building contract
- Late filing of accounts by the contractor at Companies House
- Unsatisfied court judgements against the contractor
- Subcontractors and suppliers not being paid or being paid late
- Rumours in the press, in the industry, on site or elsewhere regarding the solvency of the contractor
- Unusual visits to site, for example from the contractor’s senior management or other personnel who had not previously been present or are not expected to be present
- Increasingly aggressive behaviour by the contractor
- The contractor’s parent company or another company within the contractor’s group displaying any of the above signs
If you sponsor migrants under Tier 2 or Tier 5, you will not be required to report a sponsored employee’s absence if it is linked to coronavirus and you have authorised this absence e.g. they are self-isolating and you have received an online isolation note.
The Home Office has confirmed that sponsors do not need to withdraw sponsorship for affected employees who have been absent from work for more than 4 weeks if they consider these are exceptional circumstances, which would include absences related to coronavirus. It does however remain extremely important to know where your sponsored workers are and to have up to date contact details.
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 Commission has provided guidance as to measures which Member States can introduce without notification. These include:
- Measures which apply to all businesses within a Member State (for example the furloughing measures introduced by the UK Government)
- Measures providing support direct to consumers
- Measures which are already exempt from the notification requirement (discussed further below).
To respond to the crisis the European Commission has also issued a temporary framework to provide a basis for emergency aid to be notified for approval. The framework is initially in place until 31 December 2020. The Commission continues to keep this under review and has twice widened its scope to allow more types of aid to be notified. The type of measures covered include:
- The provision of guarantees (including guarantees for 100% of loans)
- The provision of loans at low interest rates, at zero interest rates or subordinated to senior debt
- Measures to support liquidity needs or to alleviate difficulties caused by the current crisis
- Measures to recapitalise businesses
- Measures to assist sectors hit particularly hard by the current crisis (eg transport)
- Measures targeted at COVID-19 such as research and development or production of products related to tackling the virus
The Commission has approved a UK Government “umbrella” notification to allow UK public authorities to adopt the measures permitted by the Commission framework. Therefore public authorities in the UK can use the Framework without notifying individual measures or schemes to the Commission.
Yes. Their contracts can be renewed or extended during the furlough period without breaking the terms of the scheme.
If the employee’s contract has not already expired, the contract can be extended or renewed. The employee may be furloughed provided that they were employed on or before 30 October 2020. You must also have made a RTI submission to HMRC between 20 March 2020 and 30 October 2020.
If the employee’s contract expired on or after 23 September 2020, the employee can be re-employed and furloughed. Please note that the employee must have been employed by you on 23 September 2020 and you must have made a RTI submission to HMRC between 20 March 2020 and 30 October 2020.
The fundamentals of risk assessment remain the same as for any other foreseeable risk.
Focus on risk controls which reflect Government guidance; social distancing (2 metres) and avoiding contact with occupiers if possible, high-quality PPE – disposable overalls, gloves and fluid repellent surgical face masks, ready access to antibacterial wipes for surfaces, tools and equipment and plentiful hand sanitizer.