What does this mean for my business?
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.
Has there ever been a more important time for all staff to feel that they are able to raise concerns about their working environment?
It is a pertinent time to remind all staff that they should be able to raise concerns without the fear of repercussions. It is a good time to be reviewing and re-issuing your Freedom to Speak up/Whistleblowing policy to all. Likewise it is a good time to remind all staff that they should not treat others unfairly or detrimentally for raising health and safety concerns.
Both subjecting someone to a detriment because they have blown the whistle or raised health and safety concerns (and dismissing someone for the same) is unlawful.
There are several options that can be used at this time to try and settle disputes. If it is not possible to settle a dispute via direct discussions between the parties then some form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”) might be appropriate. Mediation is the most popular form of ADR. Most people’s perception of mediation is that it needs to be in person but that does not have to be the case.
Mediation can take place online or on the telephone. Most, if not all, ADR providers remain open for business and are quickly changing their business model to ensure that mediations can still take place. Mediation can be arranged at reasonably short notice and certainly so far as the online model is concerned, it mirrors the process that is adopted when parties appear in person. Online mediation allows for joint sessions with the mediator to take place and also for the parties to break out into their respective rooms for private discussions. If a dispute settles at mediation – and the vast majority do – then the agreement reached between the parties is binding and can be enforced.
A group of senior former judges and legal academics have now called for an acceleration in the use of ADR in light of the current circumstances. They have stated that courts should promote “and where appropriate require” the use of ADR. Mediation has particularly seen an increase in growth at this time.
ADR normally results in a quicker outcome than if the matter proceeds in the courts. Due to its conciliatory nature it is a very useful process where parties continue to be in a trading relationship. Contracting parties should also consider building ADR into dispute resolution clauses in their contracts so that in the event there is a dispute the focus is on resolving the dispute as soon as possible before it escalates into litigation.”
This may be a good idea – whatever name they are given, it is essential that MHFAs are empowered to take a proactive approach to organisational mental health and that they have the bandwidth to be able to discharge their responsibilities. The name should reflect the culture of the organisation, the key aspect is awareness and accessibility – identifying a name for your company that supports this is key.
The Government has announced a £750 million funding package for charities to ensure they can continue their vital work during the coronavirus outbreak. This is for a 3 month period and further specific funding may be made available.
Charities which are businesses can also access the Government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) – Please see our Funding and Finance FAQ’s.
We have developed a Toolkit to help with these issues. The Toolkit contains:
- LO1 How to Guide: Lay off and short time working
- LO2 Letter directing employee to take annual leave
- LO3 Letter confirming lay off (contractual right)
- LO4 Letter confirming short time working (contractual right)
- LO5 Letter proposing lay off (no contractual right)
- LO6 Letter proposing short time working (no contractual right)
- LO7 Counter notice disputing entitlement to claim redundancy payment
- LO8 Script for announcing lay off or short time working (contractual right)
- LO9 Script for announcing lay off or short time working (no contractual right)
- LO10 Letter proposing reduction in working hours and pay
The cost of this Toolkit is £500 plus vat. If you would like to find out more about the Toolkit, please speak to your usual Ward Hadaway employment contact, or get in touch one of the contacts at the bottom of this page.