Coronavirus Legal Q&A: March 27

27 March 2020

Alice Stephenson is joined by Florence Brocklesby, a leading employment lawyer from Bellevue Law and William Lawrence, a property litigation expert with WH Lawrence Solicitors for our second Coronavirus: Legal Q&A webinar.

During the session the panel answered the following questions:

If we normally take bank holidays and an employee is furloughed will these be accrued to take at a later date? 01:34

If an employee hasn’t yet started, can they be added to the furlough when they join? 02:40

What are the employees options in relation to that scenario? 03:20

Is it correct that there is a minimum of a three week period in relation to furloughing? 03:47

What do I do if I can’t afford to pay my rent? What are business owners options here? 04:16

Is it reasonable to expect landlords to be offering discounts during this period? 07:44

For those employers hoping to access the furlough scheme, do we know if there are any legal implications if we were to originally designate employees as furloughed, but then at a later point have to make them redundant? 08:46

We are looking to move our employees to a 4 day week and pay them 80% of their salary. What are the legal implications? 09:57

What happens if they don’t agree to take a pay-cut, can that be imposed on them? 11:18

If we have already handled our people challenges and chatted to our landlord about rents, should we next be looking at our facilities management contracts? 12:02

Could you tell us what a furlough letter needs to say? What are the different steps to ensure we are compliant? From a practical point of view what do employers need to do to actually put somebody on furlough? 13:57

Does the advice regarding office rent payments apply to private rentals? 17:43

I am the director of my own company and I pay myself a monthly wage through PAYE. Am I entitled to any help? 22:01

If I have a limited company and I am the sole employee, can I be furloughed as an employee or do I need to claim as a self-employed worker? 26:05

If we have a Nanny on the payroll, but they can’t care for the children (because they don’t live with us) what is the position? 26:42

I work in the UK office of an Australian company. Are they able to claim furlough for their UK employees? 28:34

What is the situation with serviced offices? 28:59

If we furlough members of staff before the end of March, can we backdate that for March’s salary in full? 31:56

How do we select people to go on furlough? 32:32

If you want an employee to be furloughed and they don’t agree to that, what are the options? 35:04

Is this crisis a case of force majeure for office and supplier contracts? 36:16

How set in stone is it for the employee not to work for the company if furloughed? Fast tracking furlough is putting pressure on us to prepare for taking over the parts of the work that still need to be done during the next few months – what if we need to contact the employee for information or ask them to help on a specific task? 40:20

We’re due to move out of a rental property, but following the government advice are we allowed to move? And if not, do we have to pay rent? 42:04

What would your practical advice be to the tenant? Should they stop paying rent and then put the obligation on the landlord to try and enforce that right? Or should they continue to pay rent and try and recover that money back from the landlord? 46:13

I am paying for some commercial contracts (eg SAAS) that the suppliers are now offering others for free. What can I do? 47:48

We currently have a two month notice period for our offices which we have served. We also paid a two month deposit. We have asked for flexibility in this time and for the next two months to be paid using that. However, the landlord has refused and told us that we need to pay the next two months in full before they refund the deposit. Is there anything we can do from a legal perspective? 50:08

A (now ex) employee claimed to have tested positive for coronavirus and handed in their notice. As a result we had to self-isolate the whole office (63 people) and deep clean the office under PHE advice.We are looking to recover costs from him for the business disruption and the associated costs as he is avoiding providing us with the required medical certificate. Do we have a case here? 53:45

PLEASE NOTE – The above webinar took place on Friday March, 27 at 9.30am GMT. This is a rapidly changing situation and new measures may have been introduced by the UK Government since the time of recording. If you have any questions please contact