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Coronavirus Updates

Reasons to choose Wilson Browne

As the Coronavirus / COVID-19 strengthens its hold on UK business, it’s important to take stock of the situation at regular intervals. The pace of developments means that there are regulatory, financial, and commercial challenges for business which need addressing.

Advice issued today may well be out of date tomorrow, but it remains important for all businesses to have a robust contingency plan in place.

One of the biggest considerations right now is remote working / home working, regardless of whether it’s part of minimising potential exposure for your employees, or part of a wider policy of self-isolating. The Government is asking that employees work from home whenever they can (and it’s important to note that this is where reasonable and practical as opposed to a directive).

What should employers be doing?

Some may elect to put in place a temporary working from home agreement which covers all the salient points. Where these agreements are not in place it is worth checking that the following is sufficiently robust:

Contracts

  • Do place of work clauses include home addresses?
  • Are confidential information clauses sufficiently robust?
  • Are your home working policies and procedures GDPR compliant? (how is data secured, stored, encrypted etc whether online or offline, “hard copy” or “soft copy”)

Policies

  • Does your Electronic Communications Policy cover home working?
  • Do you have a “Use your own devices” policy?
  • Does your expenses policy need reviewing? (is it reasonable to offset additional lighting/heating costs for working from home, against a reduction in personal travel expenses?)

Health and Safety

  1. Have the requisite audits been undertaken?
  2. Review insurance cover for home working arrangements

Other

  • Make sure Communication plans are up to date
  • Implement appropriate supervision arrangements
  • Consider how you will deal with those employees who cannot work from home

And finally, with a view to combatting out of date and sometimes inaccurate information, helpful guidance can be found at:
• ACAS: Guidance for employers and employees from ACAS, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service, an independent body funded by the Government, is available here
• NHS: Health-related guidance from the National Health Service is available here

Public Health Guidance:

Public Health England including, eg, specific guidance for employers, educational and health-related organisations, and an option to receive updates directly is available here