What will be the added cost to business of furloughing staff from 1 July 2021?
Similar to the position for claims between 1 August 2020 and 31 October 2020, for claims between 1 July 2021 and 30 September 2021 there will be a cost to businesses of furloughing staff, which will gradually increase until the scheme closes at the end of September as follows.
- From 1 July 2021 employers will be required to contribute 10% of wages, with the Government contributing 70%.
- From 1 August 2021, the employer contribution increases to 20% and the Government will contribute 60%.
- 30 September 2021: scheme closes.
Employees will continue to receive 80% of their current wages, up to £2,500 a month.
A new Permitted Development Right has been introduced by The Town and Country Planning (Permitted Development and Miscellaneous Amendments) (England) (Coronovirus) Regulations 2020 providing for the construction of new dwellinghouses on detached blocks of flats.
The new Right comes into force on 1 August 2020 and from this date development consisting of works for the construction of up to two additional storeys of new dwellinghouses immediately above the existing topmost residential storey which is a purpose-built, detached block of flats is permitted development. The Right additionally covers specified associated works, the construction of fire escapes and ancillary structures, bin stores for example.
The Right is subject to detailed criteria being met and to a prior approval process to the Local Planning Authority who can consider the acceptability of the proposed development in a range of respects. A link to the Regulations is here.
The Regulations additionally include a number of further amendments including additional rights for the holding of markets and for additional temporary uses of land for a time limited period. They additionally include amendments to existing permitted development rights for the change of use of buildings to dwellinghouses through a requirement that there be adequate natural light in all habitable rooms.
Where an employer is proposing to dismiss:
- 100 or more employees at one establishment within a 90-day period, consultation must begin at least 45 days before the first dismissal takes effect
- Between 20 and 99 employees within a 90-day period, consultation must begin at least 30 days before the first dismissal takes effect
- If you are proposing to dismiss less than 20 employees then there are no minimum time limits but you must adhere to a fair process which will involve individual consultation and providing the employee with a right of an appeal
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.
Business operators such as travel operators, hotels and restaurants remain vulnerable to claims of failure to protect against contracting the virus. There is a high chance of claims from employees, clients and members of the public. These are likely to be covered under public liability and employer’s liability insurance.
Many will have worked collaboratively with their suppliers and customers to deal with the immediate public health crisis. This will have meant offering flexibility as to contractual arrangements, whether in delivery dates, volumes of goods or services supplied, or even in the specification of what has been delivered.
If this is the case, it is important that businesses now do their legal housekeeping and make sure they have a proper record of what has been agreed. Unfortunately, our experience shows that many legal disputes arise out of amendments to contracts, typically where the parties to the contract each have a different view about what exactly they agreed to change.
We would therefore advise businesses to review any amendments that they might have agreed either verbally, by email, or otherwise, and consider whether they need to be captured in a more formal way which will make clear exactly what has been agreed to be varied, and (where appropriate) how long that variation will remain in force.
It’s also important to remember that some contracts contain provisions that set out specific requirements about how amendments are to be made. For example, they might require that amendments are made in writing (rather than verbally). These “No Oral Modification” clauses are commonly found in commercial contracts, and the courts have recently shown that they are willing to enforce them.
Failing to deal with amendments in accordance with contractual requirements could therefore have a serious impact on businesses as they recover from the disruption caused by the lockdown. If they end up in dispute with a customer or supplier, a business could find that the contract has not actually been amended in the way that they think – potentially leading to legal costs and liabilities at the worst possible time.