Fact Sheet: Publishing a modern slavery statement during the pandemic

Under the Modern Slavery Act 2015, commercial organisations that meet the requirements below are required to publish an annual modern slavery statement setting out the steps they have taken to identify and address their modern slavery risks:

  • ‘body corporates’ or partnerships, wherever incorporated or formed
  • that carry on a business, or part of a business, in the UK
  • and supply goods or services
  • with an annual turnover of £36 million or more.

Fact Sheet: Update on Telecommunications Infrastructure (Leasehold Property) Bill 2019-21

The Johnson government plans to roll out UK-wide gigabit-capable broadband by 2025.

The Telecommunications Infrastructure (Leasehold Property) Bill 2019-21 is set to amend the 2017 Electronic Communications Code, so as to streamline the process by which network operators may gain access to multi-let residential properties.

It is hoped this will deal with the particular problem of the landlord who is unresponsive to requests to allow access.

Fact Sheet: Renegotiation – An art not a science

Chances are, that as a result of COVID-19, you are either going to have to seek to renegotiate your agreements with another party or deal with parties wishing to do so with you.

In respect of renegotiation, here are some points to consider…

Fact Sheet: Covid-19 – Should commercial tenants still pay the rent?

Yes they should, where possible, but less than 30% of commercial property rent was received by landlords for the March 2020 quarter.

There is an urban myth in circulation that tenants no longer need to pay their rent to landlords; that the government has instructed them not to; that they can shut up shop, cancel the rent payment, and with any luck, pick up where they left off when things are back to “normal”.

Landlords urged to be aware of ‘Faster Broadband’ legislation, FM Briefing

Landlords are being advised to be aware of forthcoming legislation designed to assist in the Government’s commitment to the roll out of faster more resilient broadband across the UK by 2025.

The call comes from specialist advisory firm Conexus Law as a reminder about the Telecommunications Infrastructure (Leasehold Property) Bill 2019-21, which is set to amend the 2017 Electronic Communications Code to streamline the process by which network operators may gain access to multi-let residential properties.

It is hoped this will help to deal with the particular problem of the landlord who is unresponsive to requests to allow access, something that is recognised as a major obstacle to meeting the Government’s target.

Emma Cordiner at Conexus Law said: “Though it is difficult to argue against the motivation for the bill, some private landlords may see it as bordering on the draconian. However, timely responsiveness and collaboration by landlords should avoid forceful operator action, so now (as ever) would be the time for all landlords to adopt good habits and pay closer attention to any operator requests for access to install infrastructure.

“At this stage, landlords need to have the bill on their radars, and in spite of the bill, might do well to plan the implementation of broadband infrastructure policies for their buildings, with one eye on a forthcoming need to be more responsive to operator requests. Ultimately a well-managed property with the best of broadband capability will only ever be an attractive prospect to tenants.”

Source: facilitiesmanagementforum.co.uk/landlords-urged-to-be-aware-of-faster-broadband-legislation

Contract concerns? Digitalisation World

Conexus Law offers the latest guidance for companies.

“Life and business has got a lot more difficult and complicated since the classification of COVID-19 as a pandemic. As a result, all businesses are or will be looking at their financial and logistical obligations to third parties.”

This is according to Ian Timlin from Conexus Law, the specialist advisory firm that provides legal and commercial advice to clients who work in sectors where the built environment, technology, engineering and people converge.

In the latest free guidance sheet that can be found on the company’s website, he is advising companies that as a first step they should check their written contracts to see if they contain any terms can help clarify things. These may include force majeure, material adverse change clauses and general break clauses.

“Companies may also want to look to see if the counterparty to the contract is going to find it difficult or impossible to perform its own obligations now or in the future (particularly in the short term). That may give them scope to negotiate sensible variations all round,” suggests Ian.

Source: digitalisationworld.com/news/58929/contract-concerns

Fact Sheet: Managing a dispersed workforce

During this prolonged period of lock down you may be managing a dispersed workforce for the first time, including many individuals who have never worked from home.

More than ever, you might need to consider being flexible with your employees, particularly those who are not used to working from home, and who may have conflicted obligations on their time and space.

Meaningful, open and regular communication will help to keep your workforce feeling supported and will help them remain engaged and motivated.

Fact Sheet: Managing your workforce during the current pandemic and economic downturn

During this health and economic crisis, it is likely most employers will need to consider ways to reduce their workforce and commensurate costs.

In addition to redundancy, some employers may have the contractual right to lay-off staff or to implement short-time working.

Employers could also consider amending terms and conditions of employment to reduce hours and pay, thereby reducing overall costs but preserving the workforce.

The government’s job retention furlough scheme is available to protect qualifying employees, which in many cases, might provide a suitable alternative to redundancy.

Although there is guidance on how the scheme will operate, the government has announced it will not be up and running until the end of April. (This topic is covered in a separate Factsheet).

If you decide to reduce your workforce or wish to make changes to their terms of employment, it is advisable to communicate clearly with all affected individuals as soon as possible.

Involving them as far as possible in any discussions will greatly benefit employee relations and increase the likelihood of obtaining their agreement to the changes you deem best for the long term future of the business.

It is important that you do not take any action in response to the pandemic that amounts to discrimination, whether inadvertently or otherwise.

Fact Sheet: Health and safety obligations for employers related to Covid-19

As an employer you have a duty of care to your employees and should continue to take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure their health, safety and wellbeing. This applies whether they are working from your premises or elsewhere.

At a time of global distress and uncertainty, demonstrating concern for the physical, emotional and psychological health of your staff is not just about complying with your legal requirements – it makes good business sense too.

Showing that you care for your employees will build trust, reinforce your commitment to them, and maintain engagement, morale and productivity. It will also help ensure you have a committed workforce once the current economic challenges and constraints of the pandemic are over.

Fact Sheet: Struggling to meet your contractual obligations? What are the issues and options?

Life and business has got a lot more difficult and complicated since the classification of COVID-19 as a pandemic.

As a result, all businesses have or will be looking at their financial and logistical obligations to third parties.

If you are struggling to meet any of those obligations, please consider this guidance to see if you can implement any of our suggestions.