What if the status determination is disputed?
You should have in place a dispute resolution procedure that sets out the appeal process or contractors or the agency as appropriate. You must respond to an appeal within 45 days.
If the status determination is disputed you should consider the contractor or agency’s reasons objections. You must consider if the original determination is to be maintained and give reasons for this. Or a new determination with reasons can be provided if appropriate.
Records of disputed determinations and the outcome of any appeal should be kept.
The golden thread requirements will be retrospective, so will apply to existing buildings as well as new build. This is part of the reason for the Building Safety Regulator’s ‘get to know your building’ guidance referred to in the talk, with the link in the Powerpoint presentation. While the details of the golden thread requirement are still to be confirmed, now is a good time to start to gather as much information as can be obtained about existing buildings as possible in preparation. The Government guidance anticipates that the Principal Accountable Person will be responsible for developing and coordinating the golden thread for existing buildings.
If you don’t want to make redundancies, or if you can’t reduce employee resource, either in a particular department or across the workforce as a whole, then you need to think about alternatives to redundancy.
Equally, you may want to flex the resource you have available to you – without making drastic changes. For example you may want to consider:
- unpaid leave and sabbaticals
- retraining and redeploying
- forcing annual leave
- flexible working
- capability issues
- lay off
- short time working
- reductions in salary
- reductions in working hours
- changing to shift working
You also need to consider other aspects of data protection.
Be proportionate – only gather and use Covid-19 data where you need to.
Keep data to a minimum – you shouldn’t gather more data than you need. You need to know someone has Covid-19 but you don’t need to know all their symptoms. Data minimisation also applies to who gets access to the data. It’s unlikely that a spreadsheet, accessible to everyone updating them on the health status of all employees, would be appropriate. Data should be shared on a need to know basis. You need to balance the privacy of individuals against your duty of care to be responsible with regards to the data of your employees, visitors, customers and suppliers.
Keep it up to date – make sure you update data. People’s health status will change and if you keep a record of this, you need to make sure it is accurate and up to date (although this doesn’t mean you should batter individuals with constant requests for updates on health status. Again, be proportionate).
Identify individuals only when you need to – although you will need to know who has Covid-19, that doesn’t mean you need to tell everyone in the organisation. As soon as you can, you should remove personal data from any information you gather. For example, you might want to update employees on the health status of their fellow employees but you probably don’t need to name individuals and even if you feel it is necessary, you should keep the information you provide to a minimum. Removing personal identifiers in a document is also a good data security technique.
Keep the Covid-19 health data secure – Covid-19 data will be special category data and deemed high risk. This means that if you have a breach of this data you will need to notify it to the ICO. A breach could happen by someone losing a print-out of the names of Covid-19 employees, customers or visitors. It could also happen if you set access rights to lists of Covid-19 sufferers open to more people than need to know the information. The risk of ICO enforcement action increases with the potential harm the disclosure could cause. Although the ICO has indicated that it will be understanding about the impact of Covid-19 on normal operations, this doesn’t mean that they will not prosecute you if the breach is sufficiently serious.
Destroy the data once you don’t need it – Finally, of course, make sure that you delete data at the end of your needs. This might last longer than the pandemic, for example if you have an insurance claim or ongoing litigation. If you do need to keep it, consider whether or not you can delete some of the data to minimise what you hold.
The immediate impact is accounting for payroll purposes for the additional cost of 13.8% employers NIC’s and 0.5% apprenticeship levy on top of the payment to the contactor’s PSC.
Secondary NIC’s cannot be recovered from payments due to employees and the same applies under the new IR35 regime. However, new terms can be agreed with reduced level of fees to reflect this additional cost.
The Regulations do not require any prior agreement between an employer and employee that it was not reasonably practicable for holiday to be taken for it to be carried over.
However, if an employee requests holiday then an employer must have ‘good reason’ for refusing it due to coronavirus. The term ‘good reason’ is not defined so the Government will expect employers, employees and (if necessary on any dispute) the Courts to apply common sense.
The Regulations are not confined to key workers so could, in principle, be used by employers for a wider range of employees.
The Government guidance suggests that the following factors should be taken into account when considering whether it was reasonably practicable to take the leave in the relevant year:
- Whether the business has faced a significant increase in demand due to COVID-19 that would reasonably require the worker to continue to be at work and cannot be met through alternative practical measures.
- The extent to which the business’ workforce is disrupted by COVID-19 and the practical options available to the business to provide temporary cover of essential activities.
- The health of the worker and how soon they need to take a period of rest and relaxation.
- The length of time remaining in the worker’s leave year.
- The extent to which the worker taking leave would impact on wider society’s response to, and recovery from, the effects of COVID-19.
- The ability of the remainder of the available workforce to provide cover for the worker going on leave.