What perceived gaps do you see in the Building Safety Act 2022 (especially in terms of pending consultations and secondary instruments)?Comments on the value of the Martlet v Mulalley judgment in fire safety cases/unsafe cladding cases
The Act was obviously subject to much debate and criticism as the Bill passed through Parliament. It is difficult to properly assess any gaps until after the necessary secondary legislation has been published and comes into force (along with the remainder of the Act), but some of the likely issues include:
- The impact on the insurance market, and the (lack of) availability and increased cost of insurance in light of the provisions of the Act
- How the introduction of retrospective claims will affect the market, both in relation to how parties might go about trying to prove matters which are 30 years old, but also the lack of certainty for those potentially on the receiving end of these claims which they previously had by virtue of the Limitation Act provisions
- Whether the definition of higher risk buildings is correct, or will require some refinement.
The Martlet v Mulalley case provides some useful observations and clarifications, for example that designers cannot necessarily rely on a ‘lemming’ defence that they were simply doing what others were doing at the time, that ‘waking watch’ costs are generally recoverable, and commentary on certain specific Building Regulations. The judgment however made clear that much of the case turned on its specific facts, so it is useful from the perspective of providing some insight as to how the Courts will deal with cladding disputes in future, rather than setting significant precedents to be followed.
In most circumstances the answer will be no. It would be an infringement of their human rights. It could also be a criminal assault.
However where there is a high risk to employees of exposure to COVID-19, such as care homes and healthcare environments, you might be able to make it a requirement of their role to have the vaccine.
First, consider whether you need to have a blanket requirement covering all employees or whether only certain groups who work in the most high risk areas require the vaccine.
You will need to do a thorough risk assessment balancing the amount that the risk of exposure would be reduced against the interference with the employee’s human rights. Consideration will need to be given as to whether insisting on the vaccine is proportionate to the risk and whether other less invasive steps could be taken instead, such as maintaining social distancing, wearing a mask, washing hands.
Any requirement for employees to be vaccinated should be communicated clearly to employees and trade unions together with a clear explanation for why it is necessary.Read more about this
All employers have a duty to prevent illegal working, and carrying out proper Right to Work checks are a fundamental part of this. In light of Covid-19, the Home Office has brought in some temporary measures for employers to use to carry out the requisite Right to Work checks. Failure to follow these could lead to enforcement action and penalties.Read more about this
Whilst many employees may now have the resources and equipment to work from home, an employee may struggle to effectively work from home for a number of reasons. For example, an employee may not have a suitable working environment where they can work without being disturbed or alternatively, working from home for prolonged periods of time may be having a detrimental impact on the employee’s mental well-being.
In circumstances such as these, employers must carry out a careful assessment. Unfortunately, there is not any specific guidance as to when an individual cannot ‘reasonably’ work from home – it is likely that each case will be fact specific.
In relation to employees who are struggling with their mental well-being, employers owe their employees a duty of care. It is crucial that procedures are in place which will enable an employer to recognise the signs of stress as early as possible. In the circumstances, it may be appropriate to allow an employee to attend their place of work if this would help alleviate work-related stress or to prevent mental health issues.Read more about this
Employees who are unable to work because they have caring responsibilities resulting from the coronavirus can continue to be furloughed. For example, employees that need to look after children can be furloughed, as you have previously submitted a claim for them in relation to a furlough period of at least 3 consecutive weeks taking place any time between 1 March 2020 and 30 June.
As more people return to work, there is an increased chance of more parents having childcare issues until Schools are fully open. However, they can’t be placed on furlough unless they had been on it before. So it would likely be unpaid leave, unless the government amends the scheme to grant an exemption.Read more about this
A common feature of corporate acquisitions is that part of the consideration is paid on deferred terms or by way of earn out over a period of years following completion. Where deferred consideration is payable, this is either on the basis that outstanding payments will be made on scheduled dates or, less usually, subject to certain agreed (typically financial) objectives being met. These objectives almost always relate to a period before completion of the deal and are dealt with as part of a completion accounts mechanism.Read more about this