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A Checklist of Legal Issues Arising From Coronavirus / COVID-19

The current Coronavirus / COVID-19 crisis has far reaching implications for businesses. 

This checklist seeks to identify and address some of the immediate legal issues likely to affect businesses: 

Employment

  • Employers’ Liability – are you at risk of exposing employees to greater risk and does that attract liability?
  • Does the business have policies to deal with containment in the case of an infection incident relating to a staff member?
  • Do your contracts permit home working? If not, can you alter?
  • Are there Health & Safety implications for home working? Do you need to undertake work station risk assessments
  • When do sick pay (both SSP and contractual) ‘kick in’? And does absence for self-quarantine count as sickness (SSP and/or contractual)?
  • What are the emergency time off provisions for parents and carers? Both statutory and contractual?

Carefully review employment policies, procedures and contracts before making changes and introducing new working practices. 
Ensure familiarity with applicable emergency time off and other employment legislation. 

Data and IT

  • GDPR and Confidentiality - is your business able to maintain necessary standards of compliance when your employees are working off-site?
  • Is client data and documentation held securely?
  • Will staff members be using their own telephones and email addresses and does that breach regulations, or your own policies?
  • Are the IT licences you hold sufficient to permit use for homeworking? Are they ‘per seat’ or ‘per location seat’? Do you hold sufficient licence numbers to enable multiple staff log-ons?

Carefully check IT licences and data policies, procedures and GDPR provisions to ensure compliance.

Contracts

  • Delay and inability to perform – are there ‘force majeure’ clauses which release or postpone contractual obligations where major events beyond the parties control interfere with performance?
  • Do the clauses apply and what notification procedures need to be followed
  • Does delay amount to a breach of contract?
  • Has the contract become impossible to perform, so that it is frustrated?
  • Do you need to cancel events? Do contracts allow and if so, what liabilities arise? 
  • Consider your suppliers and sub-contractors obligations to you.
  • Supply chain issues and knock-on effects – can these be minimised.
  • Reconsidering T&C’s in light of present environment

Businesses should be reviewing all of their contracts now, before issues become too serious, in order to understand precisely what their contractual exposure is, and where possible seeking to negotiate variations to those contracts to account for delays or inability to perform.

Insurance

  • Businesses may have the benefit of business interruption and other insurance cover

Carefully check insurance coverage and notification procedures – ensure that any relevant notification procedures are carefully followed

Insolvency & Finance

  • Consider financial status of counterparty
  • Consider measures to minimise financial exposure to weaker contractual parties e.g. security, COD, etc.

Profile and risk assess counterparties and consider whether procedures can be applied to limit exposure

For more information on this article please contact Andrew Perkins or visit the Coronavirus / COVID-10 area on our site.

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