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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

Do you need to use HMRC's CEST tool?

CEST stands for Check Employment Status for Tax and, although this should do exactly what is says on the tin, there has been criticism of its accuracy and effectiveness. The CEST tool does not test whether there is ‘mutuality of obligation’ in the relationship which is a key factor in determining status.

You are not obliged to use CEST if you are happy with your own assessment process. If you do use CEST keep a record of the certificate given at the end of the assessment and keep this on the contractor’s file. HMRC will stand by the outcome of a CEST assessment provided the information has been honest and accurate. However, you must have entered information honestly to rely on it – you can’t just say what you want to get the right answer, as HMRC may test what you have said.  Also, many people are unhappy with the CEST tool and consider it leans too much towards employed status.

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Can I require my staff to inform me should their circumstances be such that they need to self-isolate?

Yes.

Workers (and agency workers) who are aware of the requirement to self-isolate and are due to work during their isolation period at a place other than their designated place (see below) must, as soon as reasonably practicable and in any event before they are next due to start work within the isolation period, tell their employer that they are self-isolating, and set out the start and end dates of their isolation period.

Clear communication to all workers about their obligation to do this is strongly recommended.

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What should I do if contractor insolvency occurs?

In the event that the worst happens and contractor insolvency occurs, there are a number of steps which the employer should take immediately:

  • Confirm that insolvency has actually occurred and the type of insolvency (for example liquidation or adjudication) – actions taken based on rumours can have adverse consequences
  • Secure the site and carry out an audit of the plant, equipment and materials present – this may extend to changing the locks on site in order to prevent overzealous contractors and sub-contractors seeking to return and take what they see as their possessions. The building contract may contain a provision that these are the employer’s property, but they can be difficult to recover if they are not within the employer’s possession – possession is 9/10ths of the law!
  • Ensure that there are adequate insurance and health and safety arrangements in place for the site – these would usually be dealt with by the contractor and therefore may no longer be in place, so alternative arrangements may be required
  • Ensure that any further payments to the contractor are stopped pending a more detailed review
  • Consider whether any off-site materials have already been paid for and can be secured. This can however be difficult in practice where the materials are not physically within the employer’s possession

In addition, there are also a number of further actions which the employer should consider in the slightly longer term:

  • Investigate the options available and ascertain the cost of completing the works to assist in deciding how best to proceed
  • Consider whether termination of the contractor’s employment under the building contract is required, and if so take the necessary steps in accordance with the building contract
  • Consider whether there are any bonds or guarantees in place upon which the employer can rely, and if so assess their terms as to whether and how to make a claim
  • Make arrangements to complete the works – as a general rule of thumb the cost of completing the works may increase by around 30% if it is necessary to get a replacement contractor
  • Consider whether direct payment to subcontractors is possible or desirable
  • Although we would say this(!) we would strongly recommend taking legal advice, as insolvency and its implications are complex and it is easy to inadvertently fall foul of the various different requirements
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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.

 

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VIDEO: SRA Standards and Regulations

Damien Charlton, Julie Huntingdon and Chris Hugill look at the SRA Standards and Regulations (STaRS) for solicitors which came into effect late 2019, and represented a whole new regulatory landscape for the legal profession. The enhanced reporting and transparency obligations have an important impact on in-house practice, so this webinar gives you the opportunity to reflect on how the new rules impact on in-house lawyers, in both your professional and personal lives.

This webinar is part of a series designed for in-house lawyers. If you would like to register to receive invitations to future events for in-house legal counsel, please email damien.charlton@wardhadaway.com.

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