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Which properties should I prioritise?

Some organisations are prioritising properties, known to be higher risk, such as properties with open flues, or near to the certificate expiry date.

Vulnerable staff and tenants need protection, safe working practices need to be established, and communicated. Organisations should bring forward servicing for people known to be vulnerable – but bearing in mind the guidance as to preserving the annual test date.

Related FAQs

Can I dismiss someone who refuses to wear PPE?

Potentially, yes. If someone refuses to follow the health and safety measures that have been put in place to protect them, colleagues and possibly their customers, including (where appropriate) the use of PPE then this is a disciplinary issue and should be dealt with as such. Repeated failure to comply with the requirement to follow these measures, or a one off significant failure, may be sufficient to justify dismissal, depending on the circumstances.

Can a sponsor cut the salary or hours of a Tier 2 visa holder?

Yes but the sponsor must report this on the Sponsor Management System within 10 working days and must follow normal employment law principles.

If this results in the sponsored worker’s falling below the minimum required salary the usual position is that they cannot continued to be sponsored. However the government has implemented a concession for sponsors who have ceased trading or temporarily reduced trading which allows the salary to be reduced to 80% of the figure stated on the Certificate of Sponsorship or £2,500 per month, whichever is lower.

What should I do if the contractor is in suspected financial difficulty?

In the event that the contractor is displaying one or more of the above signs, then it is worth considering the following actions to protect the employer’s position as far as possible:

  • Closely monitor the financial and on-site performance of the contractor in order to assess the likelihood and timing of potential insolvency
  • Ensure all bonds, guarantees and collateral warranties have been obtained under the building contract, and if not take steps to obtain them immediately
  • Consider the terms of any guarantees to ensure that the guarantor’s obligations are not inadvertently discharged
  • Bonds may require adjudication to have been commenced (or even completed) prior to insolvency so as not to be stayed pursuant to insolvency laws
  • Carry out an audit of the on-site plant, equipment and materials, and evidence this (for example with photographs and written records)
  • Ensure that copies of all relevant documentation have been obtained, for example drawings, specifications and anything required to comply with CDM requirements. If not, take steps to obtain these
  • Review the payment position under the building contract, including whether any over payments have been made to the contractor which should be reclaimed, what retention is held or has been released, whether any payment notices may be necessary, and whether there are rights of set-off which should be exercised
  • Check whether the involvement of any third party is required, for example funders, landlords, tenants or purchasers who may have rights in relation to the building contract and how it is administered
  • Review the terms of the building contract relating to contractor insolvency – hopefully the parties will be fully aware of the building contract terms and have been administering it correctly to date, but if it has been hiding in a draw then now would be a good time to dust it off and ensure familiarity with the relevant provisions!

In general. there is often a stick or twist decision.  If the employer chooses to financially support the contractor (for example by agreeing different payment arrangements), this may help to keep the contractor solvent and more likely to complete the project, but it also exposes the employer to greater risk if the approach is not successful.  Conversely, withholding payments  from the contractor may make insolvency a self-fulfilling prophecy.  The precise advantages and disadvantages of the approach will be dependent on the specific circumstances of each case.

Do employers still have to enrol and reenrol employees?
  • Yes, and this includes furloughed employees under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
  • Employers must continue to assess their new employees or newly eligible existing employees and enrol them where required, but can make use of the statutory postponement procedure which allows them to delay for up to three months the assessment of new employees for the purpose of enrolment (see further details here on the Pensions Regulator’s website). Declarations of compliance for new employers must still be completed in the normal way.
  • Postponement cannot be used for re-enrolment. The Regulator recommends employers use the re-enrolment date tool on the Regulator’s website to choose a date up to three months after the third anniversary of enrolment to assess staff for re-enrolment. Further information about employers’ obligations about reenrolment from the Pensions Regulator can be found here. Re-declarations of compliance for new employers must still be completed in the normal way.
I don’t live in the same home as my child’s other parent. Can my child move between each house?

If you are separated from your child’s other parent, government guidance about self-isolation and social distancing may have an impact on the contact arrangements that are in place and give rise to disagreements about spending time with the other parent, travelling arrangements and whether the child should continue to go to school, where one of the parents is a key worker and a school place is available.

The government has issued guidance which makes it clear that where parents do not live in the same household, children under the age of 18 can be moved between their parents’ homes.

Cafcass has also issued guidance which states that, “unless there are justified medical/self-isolation issues – or some future nationally issued guidance or expectation associated with leaving the house in your area – children should maintain their usual routine of spending time with each of their parents. If there is a Child Arrangements Order in place this should be complied with unless to do so would put your child, or others, at risk”.  The guidance from Cafcass be accessed here.  https://mcusercontent.com/2750134472ba930f1bc0fddcd/files/987e77d6-0827-470c-9447-acc61404f465/CAFCASS_Covid19_advice_for_familes_20.pdf