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:
Your lawyers can take your instructions by telephone, Skype, Zoom or a similar tool. However, the formal requirement to make a valid Will requires two witnesses to be present with you when you sign the Will and they must then add their signatures. The witnesses or their spouse cannot be beneficiaries or they will forfeit their inheritance.
The main challenge is how to have your witnesses with you at a time when we are being advised to socially distance. One option would be for the witnesses to stand outside your window or at a safe distance from you where they have a clear line of sight. The witnesses can watch you sign and then you could post your Will through your letterbox or leave it on a surface for them to pick up so that they can then sign their names too. If the witnesses live together then they do not need to keep two meters apart from each other.
The Wills Act 1837 requires that your witnesses must be physically present when you sign your Will and therefore it is not possible to do this by Skype, Zoom or similar video conferencing means. You may however want to video record the process by which you and your witnesses signed your Will so that you have a record of what was done, particularly if you are worried that someone might challenge the validity of your Will in due course. You can of course re-execute your Will once social distancing has been relaxed if you are particularly concerned.
Be aware that the virus can remain on documents for more than 24 hours so it would be sensible for everyone to wear disposable gloves and in any event to wash hands thoroughly after handling the Will.
Emergency legislation may be passed regarding the requirement to make a valid Will but you must follow the current rules unless or until new legislation is passed.
The NHS Test and Trace service is operated by the NHS in England to track and help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Where an individual displays symptoms of coronavirus they can be tested to determine whether or not they have the disease. Those with the disease will then be contacted by NHS contact tracers and asked who they have come into close contract with.
Close contact is defined as:
- Face to face (within 1 metre)
- Spent more than 15 minutes within 2 metres of another person
- Travelled in a car or on a plane with another person
The contact tracer will then contact those people with whom the individual has come into close contact and tell them to self-isolate for 14 days.
The now defunct Guidance for the Tier system suggested that the clinically extremely vulnerable would be treated in the same way as those who were shielding in Lockdown 1. This means that anyone who is clinically extremely vulnerable and cannot work remotely, will be entitled to SSP. These employees should receive a letter confirming that they are deemed to be clinically extremely vulnerable/shielding and you should ask for a copy of it as evidence to support a claim for SSP. It is likely that the Lockdown 3 Guidance will be the same.
You could also furlough an employee in the clinically extremely vulnerable category. Again we do not anticipate this changing.
The Vice President of the COP, Mr Justice Hayden, has issued guidance to assist parties during this challenging time.
The latest guidance with all relevant updates on developments is available on the judiciary website here.
As an occupier of premises, you owe a duty of care to your visitors to take reasonable care to see that the visitor will be reasonably safe in using your premises.
It is therefore essential that you are taking reasonable steps and strictly adhering to up-to-date Government advice in all aspects of your business to avoid any potential liability.
Failure to follow Government advice could leave you vulnerable to claims for compensation for pain and suffering should a visitor on your premises contract Covid-19.
However, each case will be fact-specific and it would be very difficult for a visitor to establish that they contracted Covid-19 specifically from those premises (as opposed to being exposed to the virus anywhere else).
If someone suggests that they are going to make a claim make sure that you report matters to your insurer or insurance broker immediately.