COVID-19 (Coronavirus): Support For Business
Here you will find guidance to help manage your business and employees during this emergency period. We will continue to provide updates when new developments arise.
As information on COVID-19 is rapidly evolving, gov.uk are communicating updates regularly and this should be the first port of call for the most up to date guidance.
Issues arising from Coronavirus in Construction
We thought we would share a number of the key themes and issues which the Coronavirus has thrown up and which we expect to continue to see. These include:
- Implications of Guidance on return to work
- When to re-open sites
- Restricted access to site
- Supply chain delays for goods and materials
- Bespoke break clauses
- Deferred possession of a site
- Attempts to vary contracts
- A newly found understanding of the term “force majeure”
- Contracts yet to be entered into
- Increasing use of Performance Bonds
Update to Directors Duties
The Government is proposing a relaxation of the rules surrounding wrongful trading as part of its package of measures to give companies that were viable before the COVID-19 outbreak a better chance of emerging intact following the immediate crisis.
Health and safety considerations when re-opening your business
It is a case of when, not if, the Covid-19 restrictions will be relaxed. The relaxation will likely be gradual but when that happens you will want to be prepared to meet your obligations under health and safety legislation.
Most businesses are familiar with their general duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all its employees. This general duty also extends to “non-employees” such as contractors, agents and customers.
Planning for Life After Furlough
Many businesses acted quickly to furlough staff and reduce hours and pay for those remaining in work. The Government’s guidance on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme keeps being updated and has left many unanswered questions. Due to the urgency of the situation, businesses couldn’t wait for the answers.
This means many businesses may end up with employees receiving payments that may not be recovered from HMRC, as well as facing Tribunal claims for unlawful deductions from wages or breach of contract.
If your property is vacant due to COVID-19, are you ready for trespassers?
Reforms have been introduced rapidly to protect businesses against the impact of Covid-19. Some of the changes have had unforeseen consequences, seriously limiting the ability of landowners to remove travellers from their property.
Remote working: keeping your IT infrastructure and data safe
As part of managing the coronavirus situation, many organisations will have their staff working from home. But with the social distancing comes IT security challenges.
Many businesses will not have supported so many employees working remotely, and employees themselves may be unaware of best practices. By implementing appropriate controls and barriers you can reduce your risk.
Importance of maintaining safety and environmental standards
Under the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions)(England) Regulations 2020 no one may leave their home without a reasonable excuse during the emergency period. However, a reasonable excuse includes travel for the purposes of work, where it is not possible for that person to work from home.
Businesses and organisations who can legally continue to operate need to be able to do so without further disruption.
As the police can issue fixed penalty notices and even prosecute repeat offenders for leaving their home without a reasonable excuse, you should consider issuing your essential staff with a letter confirming this to be the case along with the basis upon which your business can lawfully continue to operate.
The Government’s first review of the restrictions will take place on or before 16th April 2020.
If you have any questions or would like advice on these restrictions or your businesses obligations please contact Andrew Logan.
Government restrictions and frustration/force majeure
With most retailers now closed, with exemptions for “essential” stores (including: food outlets, pharmacies, banks, hardware stores and off licences), what then is the effect when a landlord may now be restricted in granting access to a tenant, and a tenant is unable to use leased premises?
Legislating against forfeiture for non-payment of rent
The Government has introduced an extendable 3 month suspension of any ability to re-possess or “forfeit” leases for non-payment of rent. Rent is defined broadly and would capture service charge and insurance payments. In the first instance, this applies until 30 June 2020.
The Act also applies to existing litigation. In these circumstances, a tenant is prevented from having to give up possession of premises for non-payment of rent before 30 June 2020.
3-month extension given for companies filing their accounts
The government has released a notice informing companies that, from 25 March 2020, they will be able to apply for a 3-month extension for filing their accounts. This is to help businesses dealing with the impact caused by COVID-19.
Update: COVID-19 and the March Quarter Date – 19 March
The government has announced a temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme as part of a package of measures to help small businesses. This, together with the Financial Assistance Scheme run by the Redundancy Payments Service, may assist businesses and the cashflow impact of redundancies. A trade body has also called for the government to introduce measures to make it easier for employers to make staff temporarily redundant by funding this through universal credit.
Employee payment and attendance entitlements
This flowchart demonstrates the various options regarding entitlements to sick pay, contractual sick pay and normal pay for those unable to attend work, worried about attending work and/or self-isolating.
Update: Including Budget announcements - 11 March
As the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to dominate world news, the government is revising its advice and guidance on a daily basis. This, coupled with the Budget being delivered on 11 March 2020, has led to some key changes occurring which employers will need to be aware of in the following areas:
- Statutory sick pay
- Closing the workplace
- If someone becomes ill in the workplace
- Support for business announced in the budget