What does the new Chief Coroner guidance cover?
This guidance from the Chief Coroner applies to reports of death and coroner investigations in England and Wales. It is to assist coroners in continuing to exercise their judicial decisions independently, in accordance with the law, and during the extraordinarily pressured events being faced at present.
If a tenant continues to refuse to take heed of the government’s social-distancing guidelines, for example by inviting large groups of people who do not reside there to their property, it can constitute a nuisance. One housing association successfully applied for an injunction. The injunction ordered by the Court stipulated that no persons, other than the children of the tenant, are to attend the property until the current social-distancing restrictions are lifted by the government.
A representative of the housing association highlighted the need for the current guidelines to be followed and the need for housing providers to ensure that all residents living in their communities are kept safe during this time of ‘unprecedented risk’.
This case demonstrates that flouting of the current restrictions is likely to be considered anti-social in the eyes of the courts – a point which all housing providers should bear in mind during this period. Further, it highlights the availability of an alternative remedy to the issuing of possession proceedings (in light of the government’s moratorium on evictions) to deal with anti-social behaviour during the next three months, Covid-19 related or not.
The Home Office has provided useful guidance on how to carry out a compliant Right to Work check using the temporary adjustments in place for Covid-19. In summary:
- You will need to ask the job applicant to send you digital copies of their original documents, for example by scan, photo or mobile app.
- Hold a video call with the job applicant and ask them to show their original documents on camera so you can check them against the digital copies you have already received.
- On the date you made the check, record that you have done this by using the following wording “adjusted check undertaken on [insert date] due to Covid-19”. Evidence of right to work checks still need to be held securely either in paper or electronic format.
- You can use the online RTW checking service where the job applicant has Biometric Residence Permit or pre-settled or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme. You should do this whilst on the video call with the applicant/employee, and you must first obtain their permission to view their details on this scheme.
There is no simple answer.
The NFCC guidance states:
“The person-centred fire risk assessment is intended only as a simple means for non-specialists who have suitable understanding of relevant fire risks to determine whether additional fire precautions might be needed. The person who carries out the person-centred fire risk assessment will depend on the circumstances of the housing and support provision. It can be carried out by those who regularly engage with the resident, with input from specialists where necessary. Assessments will normally be undertaken with residents themselves.
In sheltered housing with scheme managers, the scheme managers normally engage with residents on a routine basis, enabling residents who need a person-centred fire risk assessment to be identified. Many vulnerable residents will be in receipt of care, so enabling the care provider to identify residents in need of a person-centred fire risk assessment. Providers of regulated care are required to take into account risks to people from their wider environment, to take steps to help people ensure that they are dealt with by appropriate agencies, or to raise safeguarding alerts when this is appropriate. Where a ‘stay put’ strategy is adopted, there will be a need to identify residents who need assistance from the fire and rescue service to evacuate the building.
In supported housing, the number of residents in each property is usually quite small. This, and the nature of the care service normally provided, enables person-centred fire risk assessments to be carried out asa matter of course, when a resident first moves into the property.
Where additional fire precautions cannot be provided in the short term, the risk should be reduced as far as reasonably practicable and an adult at risk referral should be made to Adult Social Care.”
Ideally then the RP will need to engage with any care providers in order to conduct the PCRA and identify risk mitigation measures. If they are reluctant to do so, the RP should engage with the individual in any event in undertaking the assessment.
Changing to shift working may give employers the opportunity to change hours / pay whilst also focusing work when it is needed. Like the other provisions, this should be done fairly, either across the board or by selecting teams/individuals based on objective business reasons. Imposing without agreement would create significant risk, therefore would require fair selection and consultation.
There are four criteria which must be satisfied if an agreement is to be considered exempt:
- It must improve production or distribution, or promoting technical or economic progress – the guidance suggests that cooperation ensuring essential goods and services can be made available to the public, or an important sub-set of the public such as key workers, will satisfy this criterion.
- It must allow consumers a fair share of the resulting benefit – the guidance suggests this will be the case where the action prevents or reduces shortages.
- It must not impose on the undertakings concerned restrictions which are not indispensable to the attainment of the above benefits – the guidance suggests this will be the case where the cooperation is the only reasonable option due to the urgency of the crisis and where the cooperation is temporary in nature.
- It must not afford the undertakings concerned the possibility of eliminating competition – therefore the parties must endeavour to retain competition in respect of the products (in particular price competition).