COVID-19: UKGov Holiday Pay and Entitlement Guidance

By Nic Hart


This UKGov guidance outlines how holiday entitlement and pay operate during the coronavirus pandemic. It is designed to help employers understand their legal obligations, in terms of workers who:

  • continue to work
  • have been placed on furlough as part of the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)

This guidance should not be treated as legal advice. Employers and workers should always check individual contracts and if necessary seek independent legal advice.

Holiday entitlement

Almost all workers, including zero-hour contracted workers and those on irregular hours contracts, are legally entitled to 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday per year. The exception is those who are genuinely self-employed. Continue reading “COVID-19: UKGov Holiday Pay and Entitlement Guidance”

Staying ‘COVID-19 Secure’: Analysing UKGov’s Back-To-Work Guidance

By Nic Hart

Following on from the Prime Ministers statement on Sunday evening (May 10th), setting out the next phase -Stay Alert- there was a general reaction of uncertainty about how this will translate for employers and employees in practical terms.

In the time since the Prime Ministers statement we have now had a number of Guidance documents released regarding how workers will be kept safe, which is fundamental to implementing a return to work which will have industry and union support. I have given an overview of the new Guidelines and Guidance below, however I am aware that there will be sector specific queries as this Guidance is implemented which I am happy to discuss as required.

The first of the guidance was the Government paper- OUR PLAN TO REBUILD: The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy, published yesterday -May 11th, which dealt with the work place in general terms. This advised that from Wednesday May 13th and for the “foreseeable future”; Continue reading “Staying ‘COVID-19 Secure’: Analysing UKGov’s Back-To-Work Guidance”

Remobilising UK Construction needs Guarantees, not Guesswork- Part 2

By Steve Nichol and Matthew Friedlander 

Last week we discussed, in light of the encouragement from Robert Jenrick MP (Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government) for the construction industry to remobilise, the government’s apparent reluctance to provide confidence and clarity for the construction industry in respect of the safe operation of sites.

In the Prime Minister’s address to the nation on 10 May 2020, he re-stated that encouragement for the construction industry, where possible, to return to work. Continue reading “Remobilising UK Construction needs Guarantees, not Guesswork- Part 2”

COVID-19: Review of the UK Government’s Guidance on Responsible Contractual Behaviour

On 7 May 2020 the UK Government published its “Guidance on responsible contractual behaviour in the performance and enforcement of contracts impacted by the COVID-19 emergency”.  Here are some of the key points arising and our analysis of the same.

It is not mandatory. The Guidance repeatedly stresses that the Government is merely strongly encouraging compliance with the Guidance, rather than suggesting that it is or should be mandatory.  However, as with previous policy announcements by the UK Government, it seems likely that public and local authorities, and indeed potentially companies such as Network Rail who are exercising delegated governmental authority, will be compelled to give greater regard and attention to the Guidance than the private sector. Continue reading “COVID-19: Review of the UK Government’s Guidance on Responsible Contractual Behaviour”

Remobilising UK Construction needs Guarantees, not Guesswork

By Steve Nichol and Matthew Friedlander

In yesterday’s edition of the Government’s daily coronavirus briefing, Robert Jenrick MP (Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government) relayed tales of how some local authorities have been able to continue essential fire safety work in the COVID-19 era in order to address defective and dangerous cladding in their areas.  He then went on to say:

I would urge any building owner or contractor…as soon as practicable, where it’s safe, to begin work once again.

If Mr Jenrick envisioned this statement as a call to arms for the industry to remobilise in a flurry of activity, it is likely that he will be disappointed. Continue reading “Remobilising UK Construction needs Guarantees, not Guesswork”

Adjudication during the COVID-19 lockdown – breach of natural justice?

By Vijay Bange and Tanya Chadha

In the UK, adjudication remains one of the quickest and most cost effective methods of resolving construction disputes.  As most people adjust to the “new normal” of working from home, an away from the usual office environment, adjudication may not be at the top of everyone’s agenda.  That is somewhat ironic given that the current COVID-19 situation is fast becoming a potential breeding ground for construction disputes.  Projects are in delay, labour and materials supply may be an issue and cashflow may become and inevitable effect of the lockdown.

The courts have shown a resolve to carry on with court business where there are live proceedings. There was however some uncertainty as to what approach the TCC would take in relation to adjudications during the period of lockdown, particularly given the fast and furious nature of the process. Would breach of natural justice arguments hold strong in adjudications pursued during this restrictive period of lockdown?  What would be the position where some relevant participants are self-isolating?  Can the adjudication process be conducted fairly, and with proper regard to the rules of natural justice? Continue reading “Adjudication during the COVID-19 lockdown – breach of natural justice?”

Lean Isn’t For Lockdown, It’s For Life

Remote working has put distance between lawyers and clients, but it has also reconnected them

By Alex Geisler


We didn’t have much time before the Coronavirus lockdown to wonder what it’d be like. If we’d had more time to think about it, maybe we’d have been fearful. What would social distancing mean in a work context? Businesses would have new and urgent problems, but how would stakeholders engage, collaborate and solve them? How would external lawyers support businesses with these new and urgent needs? Even if we could travel to clients’ offices, there’d be no-one there. Would lawyers become disconnected from businesses?

This would be one way of looking at it. But a better way would have been to view it as an opportunity, and anyone who did so would’ve been proved right. If the lockdown has taught us anything, it’s that people will always adapt. As with anything in life, if you can’t change your situation, you have to adapt your personal response to it. In this case, the adaptation was a shift towards leaner working methods, and lawyers have played their part.

For me, this confirms my long-standing belief that ‘lean lawyers’ exist everywhere. These are folks with lean instincts and matching work methods. I know a great number of lean lawyers here at Duane Morris, and I see examples of lean practice in all corners of business. Whether these people call their methods ‘lean’ matters not. They might use words like client-oriented, solution providers, effective, efficient or even nimble. Or they might just call it knowing the businesses they serve and giving good client service. Regardless, these are all synonyms for lean practice.

Then came the lockdown, and the community of lean practitioners grew significantly. This was commendable and inevitable. Businesses have existential problems and need quick actionable advice. Suddenly, of necessity, businesses and their lawyers have had to find leaner methods to deal with almost every daily task.

Let’s put this in a context. Suppose a routine project produces an unexpected hiccup. Pre-lockdown, this might have justified internal stakeholders and external advisers all jumping on planes, trains and automobiles, to have in- person meetings. As we discuss in Lean Adviser[1], these events can be well planned and executed, or they can be wildly inefficient and ineffective. Now suppose the same issue arises during lockdown. The solution won’t be a road trip next week, it’ll be a virtual meeting today. Special consideration will have to be given to meeting goals, sequencing and structure, as well as to what materials to pre-circulate and how to capture output. The lockdown lean effect isn’t just the elimination of travelling time, now the participants have to think about refining almost every task for remote working.

Pre-lockdown, a multi-party, in-person meeting was an accepted norm. Participants had the luxury of creating beautifully crafted work product to present. They’d throw a bunch of papers into document bags and onto laptops, and get on the road. The meeting would often be long, and attendees might grandstand, improvise, or even fade. Often the participants would go their separate ways to reflect on the issues, and maybe send follow up reports. Decisions got deferred. In that setting, it’d be a challenge just to track the issues, navigate the papers and access the key data. How many meetings have you seen come to a standstill when somebody says “you know what, why don’t we all go ahead and take a break, get some fresh coffee while Kevin looks in the document bags or Sally makes some calls, to see if we have that report?”.  Sound familiar? Try doing this in a remote working setting and it starts to look very clunky.

Virtual meetings are different, they’re shorter but need more and different preparation. They demand good structure, key materials, clear agendas and well-defined goals. This extra time spent in preparation delivers shorter and more productive meetings. Attendees have a shared focus, key issues are isolated and decisions are taken. As with meetings, so with reports. More prep time, but a better product. Sure, it can be more difficult to produce a short report, but it works way better than the superficially impressive long form. Not only do people actually read it, but they alight on key points without having to find them buried in the text.

In all these ways, the business of doing business has changed. New methods have been found, and business people and lawyers have become leaner. This gravitation towards lean practice isn’t new, nor is it a temporary bout of modernity. For as long as I can remember, well before I called it ‘Lean Law’, I’ve seen clients rewarding lean behaviours with repeat business. Then they began voicing it, and it only got louder. Now clients use RFPs to demand better methods from law firms.

If finding new methods is the first step, then developing a lean mind-set is what follows. When this is over, business people won’t forget, or lose their appetite for remote working, crisp reporting or quick solutions. With one or two notable exceptions, almost every business that survives the pandemic will be significantly poorer, and looking for ever greater cost savings and efficiencies. This is a perfect storm for change and those who gravitate towards lean lawyering will find that their skills are in demand more than ever.

[1] A series hosted by Law.Com focusing on lean practice methods


COVID-19: New Protections For Commercial Tenants – Are Tenants Now ‘Safe’?

By Milan Patel


The UK Government has recently announced further steps to protect commercial tenants from aggressive rent collection by landlords including a ban the use of statutory demands and winding up orders where a company cannot pay their bills due to COVID-19 and preventing landlords from using commercial rent arrears recovery (CRAR) unless 90 days or more of rent is unpaid.  These measures support the existing ban on landlords evicting commercial tenants.  All of these measures will remain in effect until at least 30 June 2020.

Does that mean commercial tenants can now relax?

Definitely not.  These measures are temporary and do not alter the terms of the lease.   Once they are lifted, landlords will be free to employ such collection methods again and while some landlords have deep pockets, many more do not and almost all will have investors and/or funders to satisfy so it is highly unlikely that unpaid rent will simply be ignored for long once these protection measures end.

So what should commercial tenants be doing now?

Continue reading “COVID-19: New Protections For Commercial Tenants – Are Tenants Now ‘Safe’?”

Employee Refusal To Return To Work in face of COVID-19 ‘Threat To Safety’ – What Is Your Response?

By Nic Hart


The effects of the Coronavirus pandemic on the workplace continue.  It is undeniable that the potential litigation arising out of COVID-19 will be far reaching and there will be several areas that Employers need to consider now and when the return to work phase commences in earnest.

In a matter of months the Coronavirus pandemic has not only changed the way millions of employees work but also the way they may now view the work place, particularly how safe they feel within their workplace.

Health and Safety claims may become a real issue for employers as employees either leave or propose to leave, refuse to return to work or take (or propose to take) appropriate steps to protect themselves or others from what they believe is serious and imminent danger from infection. Continue reading “Employee Refusal To Return To Work in face of COVID-19 ‘Threat To Safety’ – What Is Your Response?”

COVID-19 Job Retention Scheme – Summary of Updates to UK Gov Guidance

By Nic Hart


Whilst I am very mindful of furlough fatigue, there have been further updates to the Government Guidance on The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – both How to Claim (short form and long form) and the Guidance. None of these have substantively changed but there are points to note in each, which are as follows.

The How to Claim (short form) deals with some of the practicalities of claiming. For those yet to do so please note that you need to submit your claim in one session – you cannot save it and return later. Sessions will time out after 15 minutes of inactivity.

There has been guidance given on what steps to take following a claim;

  1. keep a copy of all records, including:
    • the amount claimed and claim period for each employee
    • the claim reference number for your records
    • your calculations in case HMRC need more information about your claim
  2. tell your employees that you have made a claim and that they do not need to take any more action
  3. pay your employee their wages, if you have not already.

It must be stressed that Employers should record and retain documentation at all stages of the furlough process, both to be compliant with the requirements of the Treasury Direction but also to ensure that if there is any audit undertaken by HMRC they have the requisite records set out in the Guidance. Continue reading “COVID-19 Job Retention Scheme – Summary of Updates to UK Gov Guidance”

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The opinions expressed on this blog are those of the author and are not to be construed as legal advice.

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