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Which products and services are affected?

Initially, the relaxation applied to supermarkets and food suppliers. This was subsequently widened to apply to other businesses, permitting them to collaborate where necessary to respond to the crisis in the interests of consumers.

Related FAQs

What happens if a patient is admitted to hospital during the pandemic?
What first steps would you recommend to creating a strategy to integrate pro-active mental health first aid across the workforce?

The Thriving at Work Report and the recent NICE Workplace Mental Health Guidelines provide a good baseline for what all organisations should be doing on workplace mental health – this includes some guidance on training. There does need to be a plan in place and we recommend taking a holistic view of the integration of mental health first aiders into a business – ie it should be one component in a strategy that also comprises training for line managers, awareness training and education for all staff, peer support, and a documented framework for support and signposting.  It is also worth ensuring you have senior manager sponsorship, strong links with Occupational Health if available and also raising awareness via any works councils or employee forums helps ensure there is buy in at all levels.

Can we require employees who have been shielding to return to work at the end of the 12 week shielding period?

The Government introduced shielding in the peak of the pandemic. Current advice is that shielding is not required. However, those who have been shielding are likely to be the most vulnerable and will likely be nervous about a return to work. They may also be disabled under the Equality Act 2010. You should therefore consider any concerns that are expressed and take action to mitigate any risks. For example, it may be possible to keep these employees on furlough until the scheme runs out or they may be able to work from home. If you would like to discuss any specific scenarios then please contact one of the team.

Is the Land Registry functioning?

Yes. The Land Registry published a new service update on 14 May, here:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-impact-on-hm-land-registrys-service

Importantly, the Land Registry will process registrations where documents have been executed using the Mercury signing approach:

For land registration purposes, a signature page will need to be signed in pen and witnessed in person (not by a video call). The signature will then need to be captured, with a scanner or a camera, to produce a PDF, JPEG or other suitable copy of the signed signature page. Each party sends a single email to their conveyancer to which is attached the final agreed copy of the document and the copy of the signed signature page.

To summarise some further points:

  • Most information enquiries are experiencing minimal delays
  • Registrations of new titles, such as on sales of part or new leases, and applications to update existing titles, are experiencing more significant delays but can be expedited via the expedite service
  • Cancellation dates for replying to requisitions are extended until further notice
  • Access to free documents on the land registry portal has been extended to 90 days from completion of the transaction
  • Identity requirements have been relaxed. The Land Registry will now raise a requisition for identity documents, and not cancel applications
  • Requests for extensions to a notice or objection period will be granted if lawfully possible
  • Land charges searches can be submitted electronically with PDF documents
What should payroll look out for if the Government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is used?
  • It is important to have a clear paper trail for any agreed reduction in salary, and hence any reduction in the amount of contributions. However, the contribution rates (as opposed to the amounts) should be the same as normal, and hence all processes and software should function as per normal and, amongst other things, remain compliant with auto-enrolment employer duties.
  • However, if the period of affected contributions does not overlap precisely with the period of reduced salary, for example because of different cut-off dates, there may well be instances of non-compliance with auto-enrolment employer duties at the beginning as well as at the end of the period covered by the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
  • Accordingly, where an employer takes advantage of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, good communication with the persons responsible for pensions administration and detailed record-keeping are essential to prevent non-compliances in the short-term and confusion in the long term.