Business News

Understanding lay-offs and short-time working

Crucial advice on how businesses can handle lay-offs and short-time working issues as Covid-19 hits the economy has been issued by Thursfields Solicitors. Government advice to the public to avoid

social interaction led to a dramatic drop in footfall and trade across many sectors, particularly in the entertainment and retail trades, leaving many businesses unable to pay staff and considering redundancies. Jade Linton, a senior associate solicitor in

the Employment & HR Law department at Thursfields, explains that a lay-off is when an employer provides no work and no pay to staff for a period of time, while retaining them as employees. However, short-time working means

providing staff with less work and less pay for a period of time, while also retaining them as employees. Either option is generally temporary in

duration and only used in circumstances which have led to a temporary reduction in work. She said: “In some cases, an expressed

contractual right within an employee’s contract of employment will permit an employer to lay them off or put them on short-time working. “This right may also in certain cases be

implied if it can be shown it has been established over a long period of time, for example by custom and practice. “But in the absence of such an expressed

or implied contractual term, an employer risks breaching the employment contract, and to avoid the risk of litigation they should seek the employee’s consent to make such changes.” Ms Linton advises employers should

never assume staff are fully aware of the difficulties facing a business and that regular communication channels should be kept open. Where agreements are reached,

they should be finalised in writing and kept on personnel files. In the event of no agreement

being reached, an employer may need to consider alternative options, ranging from redundancies to varying contracts without agreement, by terminating the existing contracts and re-engaging staff on new revised contacts. Another option could be

asking staff to take holidays at times chosen by the employer.

Jade Linton: Staff solutions

New measures to help international traders

HSBC UK has announced new measures to help its customers who trade internationally tackle the disruption caused by the spread of Covid-19. To cover the gap caused by supply chain disruption, the bank is offering

Staying Cool offers discounts for NHS staff

Staying Cool is offering an exclusive discount for NHS workers at its boutique serviced apartments in Birmingham’s Rotunda. To show appreciation for those who are keeping the country safe and

treating people affected by Covid-19, the operator is offering a 25 per cent discount on at stay the four and five-star apartments for anyone with an NHS staff ID Rotunda general manager Alex Mee said: “NHS staff work tirelessly day-in-

day-out but they are working especially hard in this time of crisis. We already work with a charity to offer free respite stays for carers and these guests often comment on how much they enjoy their stays with us It seemed a logical next step to make an offer available to NHS workers who are stretched to the limit and are in need of a break. We want everyone to experience respite in style against the backdrop of such magnificent views across the city.” No discount code is required to redeem the offer. The booking can be

made online, by email or over the phone, but it must be made direct with Staying Cool rather than through a booking agent. Staying Cool will either refund or reduce the booking fee by 25 per cent on check-in upon production of the guest’s NHS staff ID.

8 CHAMBERLINK April 2020

£3bn to importers and exporters who need additional support,, pre- approved 60-day extensions on trade loans for customers with a sound trade loan and financing record and a one-hour turnaround on the issuance of shipping guarantees, enabling customers to transfer or receive goods from other parties faster. A dedicated helpline that connects directly with trade finance specialists

has also been set up, in addition to the support being offered by relationship managers Ian Tandy, head of trade for HSBC UK, said: “Our international customers

are telling us that they are concerned about short term working capital, ability to forecast their cash position in the short term and access to finance.” “Our trade finance specialists are keen to understand the challenges that

currently face these businesses and are doing all they can to tailor financial solutions to alleviate some of these challenges.” “We’d ask all international business customers to contact their

relationship managers or the dedicated number as soon as they begin to see strains in their working capital cycle so that we can move quickly to minimise disruption.”

• Meanwhile, virtual PA services company Pink Spaghetti has been helping businesses set up remote working. According to the Solihull-based firm, only two per cent of businesses were operating from home prior to the Covid-19 outbreak.

• Other Chamber members are helping businesses through the crisis, such as Sutton-based Ark Media, who are offering free online video workshop sessions via Zoom or Skype, to help firms maintain effective communication with their clients.

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