What can I do if an employee refuses to work due to lack of PPE?
Put simply, if it is a requirement of a particular role that PPE is worn, then this should be provided to the employee. If an employer dismissed an employee for refusal to carry out their role due to lack of PPE then this is likely to be an automatically unfair health and safety dismissal.
Furthermore, anyone who is subject to a detriment as a result of raising a health and safety concern, e.g. someone in this situation who refuses to work due to lack of PPE and is sent home without pay, will also have a potentially valid claim in the Employment Tribunal for that detriment, even if they are not dismissed.
Yes. The Government continues to support the construction industry and the Prime Minister’s recent statement supports the return to work of those who cannot work from home, if they can work safely. This has seen an immediate surge in industry workforce returning to work. Banks and storage and distribution businesses are permitted to operate as essential businesses.
Solicitors and estate agents may still not permit members of the public to enter their premises, but can operate remotely via website, phone, email and other methods, as normal. The Government’s latest guidance published on 13 May now advises that moving house need not be postponed, provided social distancing and safe ways of working can be adopted. Restrictions remain for those who are infected or who are self-isolating or vulnerable, and they should not move house or accept visitors.
Failure to comply with the collective inform and consult obligations could impact on the fairness of any dismissals – see next question. In addition, a Tribunal can award a protective award of up to 90 days gross pay for each affected employee. The purpose is intended punish the employer for not complying with the obligations, not to compensate the employee for their individual financial loss.
Cancellation insurance usually covers certain expenses and loss of profit, as long as the reason for cancellation is not excluded. These exclusion clauses are often quite wide and exclude avian, swine flu, quarantine, and restrictions of movement as a result of communicable disease. This means that you may not be entitled to compensation under this cover.
All organisations have underperformers. Capability is a potentially fair reason to dismiss and is separate to any redundancy procedures.
Generally, capability falls into either absences through illness or underperformance in the role. Those who are absent through sickness can be furloughed, but when furlough comes to an end they will need to go back onto sickness. If you are looking to tackle absence then you need to tackle long term and short term absence in a different way.
Long term absence: You need to establish whether the employee is able to return to work (with or without reasonable adjustments) in the medium term. This requires medical opinion and be careful of disability issues. Reasonable adjustments are likely to be important.
Short term absence: You will need to demonstrate that you have fair absence triggers in place and there is normally be a 3 stage procedure: warning and final warning followed by dismissal on notice. Each stage needs a fair procedure, with written information, a fair hearing and the opportunity to appeal. Be careful of disability issues.
As for underperformance: To tackle this, you will need to have clear SMART objectives in place and evidence of the employee failing to meet these. There would then normally be a 3 stage procedure: warning and final warning followed by dismissal on notice. Each stage needs a fair procedure, with written information, a fair hearing and the opportunity to appeal.
- Remember that employees will also be making contributions on any reduced wage under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. The amount contributed may be less, but the contribution rate will be the same, unless the following applies.
- Employees may reduce their DC employee contributions if their scheme rules allow them to do so, but no further than the statutory minimum if the scheme qualifies as the employer’s auto-enrolment vehicle.
- Employees might choose to opt-out or cease active membership of their scheme, which might cause a spike in administration at a time when administrators are likely to be understaffed. It is important that employers remember they must not do anything to encourage or induce employees from leaving an auto-enrolment vehicle as this may constitute an offence.
- Employees who leave their scheme in this way will have to be re-enrolled in due course as and when required by law.
- For DB schemes, specific considerations apply (see the last section, below).