Your COVID-19 employment law questions answered by Woodfines Solicitors


Yesterday (Tuesday), Woodfines Solicitors in Bedford offered to respond to employment law questions from some of our readers.

In the wake of recent government advice around COVID-19, there is a great deal of uncertainty around employee rights.

Thanks to everyone that got in touch and we hope that the following responses from the Woodfines team are useful to many of our readers.

Self Employed?

Unfortunately if you are self employed and are self isolating/unable to work there are currently no plans in place for SSP.

To keep up to date with any changes visit the website.

Landlord and tenant

If your tenant can no longer pay rent due to loss of income then you should check with your estate agent to see if they are able to offer a rent guarantee scheme – even if you are partway through an existing tenancy agreement this can be arranged.

Failing that we may hear later that there is some support available in these situations but as yet this is unknown.

You may wish to consider staying in communication with your tenant via your estate agent as to the potential of reducing the rental income so as to avoid complete non payment altogether.

You could also consider approaching your mortgage company to see if you can take a payment holiday.

Taking time off work to look after others

If the reason for taking time off is because of self isolation (in accordance with government guidance) you may be entitled to be paid SSP.

If the reason is not self isolation you will need to speak to your employer about whether you can take annual leave or another type of leave eg: time off for dependants leave or unpaid leave.

If you become unemployed

If your employer makes you redundant you are entitled to a statutory redundancy payment. If your employer company is insolvent you may need to make an application to the Insolvency Service for redundancy payment and other payments owed.

Support for local business

To keep up to date on what/if any support small businesses may receive check out the website

Lay off/Short term working

Laying off employees essentially means that the employer does not provide the employee with work, or pay for a certain amount of time, whilst still being able to retain the employees.

Whereas short-time working means providing employees with less work (and less pay) for a period while retaining them as employees.

Where, there is a ‘lay off’ or “short term working” provision within the contract of employment, the employer will have a contractual right to implement this. However, if there is no provision in the contract and the employer enforces this, then this would be a fundamental breach of contract (which may entitle the employee to resign and claim constructive dismissal).

Starting a new job with no commencement date

A binding contract comes into existence once an unconditional offer of employment has been accepted.

If the employer seeks to withdraw the offer, the employee may have a claim for breach of contract, but damages are likely to be limited.  If employment has not yet begun there is no entitlement to sick pay.

Please be aware that this article has been
prepared on the basis on the information given.
Woodfines will not accept liability for
inaccurate or incorrect information

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