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Which publicly funded organisations can consider furlough?

Some employers falling into the third group of organisations described above could understandably feel aggrieved that on the first reading of the guidance they are not able to furlough employees and rely on the Government scheme. Many publicly funded organisations that are not public sector employers, receive a package of public funding with little expectation on how that funding is used or applied, other than broadly for it to be used in providing the services it is contracted to deliver. Also, several publicly funded organisations have many different income streams and the element of funding that is received from the public purse can be only an element of their operating costs.

Unfortunately there is still no clear guidance on when employers falling into the third category identified above can use the scheme. The only reference in the guidance on this states that where organisations are not “primarily funded” from the public purse and whose staff cannot be redeployed to assist with the coronavirus response, the scheme might be appropriate to be used for some staff. This seems to suggest that where an employing organisation is not wholly or mainly funded by public funding and staff cannot be redeployed to work in areas in the effort to combat coronavirus, then it would be appropriate for the employer to access the scheme.

If considering applying for grants under the scheme a sensible approach would be to look at the combined total of your public funding and payments under the scheme and make sure it will not represent more than 100% of the level of total income you would have expected to receive during this period in a non-Covid scenario.

Local Authorities are expected to maintain support to suppliers and this should be considered:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/874178/PPN_02_20_Supplier_Relief_due_to_Covid19.pdf

Related FAQs

Do I need Planning Permission to change the use of a warehouse or factory unit to a temporary mortuary?

Mortuaries are a sui generis use, unless ancillary to some other use of land, a hospital for example.

Sui generis uses are not within any Use Class. Consequently planning permission is required for the:

  • Change in the use to a sui generis use
  • Subsequently for the change in the use to an alternative use, whether that be another sui generis use or a use within a Use Class

Acknowledging the above, if the scale of the use is above de minimis, planning permission is likely to be required to change the use of a warehouse or factory unit into a temporary mortuary.

Should planning control be breached, a local planning authority must decide whether to take enforcement action or not. That enforcement is discretionary was recently reiterated in a Ministerial Statement issued on 13 March 2020 a link to which is below.

https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2020-03-13/HCWS159/

Depending on the form of the enforcement action, there could be a right of appeal.

VIDEO EXPLAINER: Consultation exercises – the why, the who, and the how

This free Getting back to business webinar was held on Thursday 7th May.

On this video, employment partner Edward Nuttman and Graham Vials went through what a consultation exercise is and when you are required to hold one. They then took you step by step through the process, describing all you will need to do to ensure legal compliance whilst at the same time being sensitive to the emotional and motivational impact on your employees and managers.

What happens if a patient is admitted to hospital during the pandemic?
Should Covid-19 be recorded as a cause of death?

The Chief Coroner supports the position, communicated by NHS England and the Chief Medical Officer that Covid-19 is an acceptable direct or underlying cause of death for the purposes of completing the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (MCCD) and is considered a naturally occurring disease. This cause of death alone is not a reason to refer a death to a coroner under CJA 2009.

If the cause of death is believed to be due to confirmed Covid-19 infection, there is unlikely to be any need for a post mortem to be conducted and the MCCD should be issued, and guidance is given on how this is delivered to the Registrar in the event of the next of kin/informant being in self-isolation. 

In a hospital setting the MCCD process should be straightforward because of diagnosis and treatment in life. This may be more complex in a community setting. The Coronavirus Act 2020 however expanded the window for last medical review from 14 to 28 days. Outside of this, the death will need to be reported to the coroner.

Although Covid-19 is a naturally occurring disease, there may be additional factors around the death which mean it should be reported to the coroner; for example, the cause of death is unclear, or where there are other relevant factors. Guidance is given to coroners on how to manage such reported deaths, particularly where post mortem examinations may not be readily availability.

Are Public Bodies able to continue to pay contractors (and their supply chains) at risk as a result of Covid-19?

Yes: The Cabinet Office has published a number of Procurement Policy Notes to provide instructions to Public Bodies to enable payments to continue to be made to at risk suppliers (and their supply chains) who have been affected by Covid-19. Copies of this guidance can be obtained from the Government website at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/procurement-policy-note-0220-supplier-relief-due-to-covid-19