Holding Charity Meetings During Lockdown

Charity Commission LogoFrom the Charity Commission

Coronavirus continues to have a major impact on charity events and trustees need to consider how and if they can hold meetings.

Charitable companies and Charitable Incorporated Organisations (CIOs) can hold AGMs and other members’ meetings online.  This temporary amendment is in the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 and also applies to exempt charities that are community benefit or friendly societies.  It was extended from 30 September to 30 December 2020 but may be extended again if the government thinks this is needed. We will update with any changes if they happen.

For other types of meetings, or for any other type of charity, trustees need to check if their charity’s governing document allows them to hold meetings online or by telephone. Where it does not, an alternative may be to amend it to allow meetings to be held in this way.

Holding meetings online or by telephone

In the current situation, it may be difficult to hold face-to-face meetings. Some charities have clauses in their governing documents that allow them to meet virtually or to use telephone facilities, so we advise trustees to check their governing document and see if they can make amendments themselves to facilitate changes as to how or when meetings are held.

Generally, if there is no such clause in the governing document and you decide to hold meetings over the phone or using digital solutions, we will understand but you should record this decision and that you have done this to demonstrate good governance of your charity.

In the specific cases of members’ meetings (not trustee / director meetings) of Charitable Incorporated Organisations or charitable companies, held between 26 March 2020 and 30 December 2020:

  • they may be held by phone / video or other electronic means, even if the governing document requires them to be held physically face-to-face
  • members still have the right to vote, but the charity can require this to be done electronically, or by other means (such as by post)
  • members will not have the right to attend a meeting in person or participate in meetings other than to vote

If you rely on these provisions, you must ensure that this decision is recorded in the minutes and that all other meeting requirements are met. You should ensure that you have a robust system to ensure only those eligible to vote can do so and that you record who has voted and the percentages of votes cast.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): right to work checks

A quiet, but major, shift in who decides GOV.UK Verify's future | THINK  Digital Partners : THINK Digital PartnersAdvice for employers carrying out right to work checks during the coronavirus pandemic.

Right to work checks have been temporarily adjusted due to coronavirus (COVID-19). This is to make it easier for employers to carry them out.

As of 30 March 2020 the following temporary changes have been made:

  • checks can now be carried out over video calls
  • job applicants and existing workers can send scanned documents or a photo of documents for checks using email or a mobile app, rather than sending originals
  • employers should use the Employer Checking Service if a prospective or existing employee cannot provide any of the accepted documents

Checks continue to be necessary and you must continue to check the prescribed documents listed in right to work checks: an employer’s guide. It remains an offence to knowingly employ anyone who does not have the right to work in the UK.

Because of COVID-19, some individuals may be unable to evidence their right to work. During this period, you must take extra care to ensure no-one is discriminated against as a job applicant or employee because they are unable to show you their documents. For more information, please see the code of practice for employers: avoiding unlawful discrimination while preventing illegal working.

Conducting a right to work check during the temporary COVID-19 measures

  • Ask the worker to submit a scanned copy or a photo of their original documents via email or using a mobile app
  • Arrange a video call with the worker – ask them to hold up the original documents to the camera and check them against the digital copy of the documents
  • Record the date you made the check and mark it as “adjusted check undertaken on [insert date] due to COVID-19”
  • If the worker has a current Biometric Residence Permit or Biometric Residence Card or status under the EU Settlement Scheme you can use the online right to work checking service while doing a video call – the applicant must give you permission to view their details

If the job applicant or existing worker cannot show their documents

You must contact the Home Office Employer Checking Service. If the person has a right to work, the Employer Checking Service will send you a ‘Positive Verification Notice’. This provides you with a statutory excuse for 6 months from the date in the notice.

After the COVID-19 measures end

We will let you know in advance when these measures will end. After that date, you should follow the checking process set out in right to work checks: an employer’s guide.

You will be asked to carry out retrospective checks on existing employees who:

  • started working for you during these measures
  • required a follow-up right to work check during these measures

You should mark this check: “the individual’s contract commenced on [insert date]. The prescribed right to work check was undertaken on [insert date] due to COVID-19.”

The retrospective check must be carried out within 8 weeks of the COVID-19 measures ending. Both checks should be kept for your records.

The Home Office will not take any enforcement action against you if you carried out the adjusted check set out in this guidance, or a check via the Home Office, and follow this up with the retrospective check.

If, at the point of carrying out the retrospective check, you find your employee does not have permission to be in the UK you must end their employment.

If the check you have undertaken during the adjusted period was done in the prescribed manner, you do not need to undertake a retrospective check.

Covid-19 Five Steps to Safer Working Together

Staying COVIC-19 Secure in 2020.jpgThe government has published guidance on managing the risk of COVID-19 in the workplace as people begin to return to work, using these 5 key points.  This sets out practical steps for businesses focused on 5 key points, which should be implemented as soon as it is practical:

1. Work from home, if you can

All reasonable steps should be taken by employers to help people work from home. But for those who cannot work from home and whose workplace has not been told to close, our message is clear: you should go to work. Staff should speak to their employer about when their workplace will open.

2. Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment, in consultation with workers or trade unions

This guidance operates within current health and safety employment and equalities legislation and employers will need to carry out COVID-19 risk assessments in consultation with their workers or trade unions, to establish what guidelines to put in place. If possible, employers should publish the results of their risk assessments on their website and we expect all businesses with over 50 employees to do so.

3. Maintain 2 metres social distancing, wherever possible

Employers should re-design workspaces to maintain 2 metre distances between people by staggering start times, creating one way walk-throughs, opening more entrances and exits, or changing seating layouts in break rooms.

4. Where people cannot be 2 metres apart, manage transmission risk

Employers should look into putting barriers in shared spaces, creating workplace shift patterns or fixed teams minimising the number of people in 5contact with one another, or ensuring colleagues are facing away from each other.

5. Reinforcing cleaning processes

Workplaces should be cleaned more frequently, paying close attention to high-contact objects like door handles and keyboards. Employers should provide handwashing facilities or hand sanitisers at entry and exit points.

A downloadable notice is included in the documents, which employers should display in their workplaces to show their employees, customers and other visitors to their workplace, that they have followed this guidance

You can find and download the notice here

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Good Practice Steps for Employers

Blog image of Acas logoACAS has provided some good practice steps for employers

Employers should consider some simple steps to make sure they continue to provide their staff and customers with a ‘duty of care’.   This means they must do all they reasonably can to support their health, safety and wellbeing.

It’s good practice for employers to:

  • make sure everyone is social distancing if they come into the workplace
  • be especially careful and take extra steps for vulnerable groups, including those who are pregnant, aged 70 or over, or who have a long-term health condition
  • hold meetings as remote calls and avoid travel as much as possible
  • make sure managers know how to spot symptoms of coronavirus and are clear on any relevant processes, for example sickness reporting and sick pay, and procedures in case someone in the workplace shows symptoms of the virus
  • make sure there are clean places to wash hands with hot water and soap, and encourage everyone to wash their hands regularly
  • provide hand sanitiser and tissues for staff, and encourage them to use them
  • make sure everyone’s contact numbers and emergency contact details are up to date
  • keep everyone updated on actions being taken to reduce risks of exposure in the workplace
  • keep up to date with the latest government advice – see coronavirus advice on GOV.UK

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: an update from HMRC | Cambridge ...Claim for your employees’ wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

If you’ve had to dismiss staff because of coronavirus (COVID-19), you might be able to re-employ them and pay their wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Who can claim

You must have:

  • created and started a PAYE payroll scheme on or before 28 February 2020
  • enrolled for PAYE online – this can take up to 10 days
  • a UK bank account

Any entity with a UK payroll can apply, including businesses, charities, recruitment agencies and public authorities.

For more information on Apprentices, click here

Employees you can claim for

You can only claim for furloughed employees that were on your PAYE payroll on or before 28 February 2020.

To claim, you will need:

  • your ePAYE reference number
  • the number of employees being furloughed
  • the claim period (start and end date)
  • amount claimed (per the minimum length of furloughing of 3 consecutive weeks)
  • your bank account number and sort code
  • your contact name
  • your phone number

You will need to calculate the amount you are claiming. HMRC will retain the right to retrospectively audit all aspects of your claim.

If you made employees redundant or they stopped working for you after 28 February

If you made employees redundant, or they stopped working for you on or after 28 February 2020, you can re-employ them, put them on furlough and claim for their wages through the scheme.

If your employee is on maternity leave, adoption leave, paternity leave or shared parental leave

The normal rules for maternity and other forms of parental leave and pay apply.

You can claim through the scheme for enhanced (earnings related) contractual pay for employees who qualify for either:

  • maternity pay
  • adoption pay
  • paternity pay
  • shared parental pay

Some of the rules are quite complicated, so more information can be found here 

COVID-19 Support for Self-Employed

Chancellor announces additional measures to help businesses and the self-employed impacted by COVID-19

The Chancellor announced a major package of support for the self-employed:

  • HMG will pay the self-employed a taxable grant worth 80% of their average monthly profits over the last three years up to £2500 per month
  • This will be available for three months. Will be extended if necessary
  • People can claim these grants and continue to do business
  • Covers self-employed same as those furloughed

To ensure the funds reaches the people most in need:

  • Open to anyone of trading profits of up to £50,000
  • Available to people who i) make the majority of their income being self-employed, ii) Have a self-employed tax return for 2019

How to access

  • HMRC will contact you directly and you’ll have to fill out a form
  • HMRC will pay the grant directly to bank accounts.
  • Aim is to pay at the beginning of June (3 months backdated). Hoping to be quicker than that but recognition HMRC are now having to design two new systems
  • Anyone who missed the Jan filing deadline has an extra 4 weeks from today to submit their tax return

Further Details can be found at – https://www.gov.uk/government/news/chancellor-gives-support-to-millions-of-self-employed-individuals

Guidance for Employers and Businesses on Coronavirus (COVID-19)

What you need to know

  • businesses and workplaces should encourage their employees to work at home, wherever possible
  • if someone becomes unwell in the workplace with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature, they should be sent home and advised to follow the advice to stay at home
  • employees should be reminded to wash their hands for 20 seconds more frequently and catch coughs and sneezes in tissues
  • frequently clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, using your standard cleaning products
  • employees will need your support to adhere to the recommendation to stay at home to reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) to others
  • those who follow advice to stay at home will be eligible for statutory sick pay (SSP) from the first day of their absence from work
  • employers should use their discretion concerning the need for medical evidence for certification for employees who are unwell. This will allow GPs to focus on their patients
  • if evidence is required by an employer, those with symptoms of coronavirus can get an isolation note from NHS 111 online, and those who live with someone that has symptoms can get a note from the NHS website
  • employees from defined vulnerable groups should be strongly advised and supported to stay at home and work from there if possible

The full document can be found here

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidance for Employers, and Social Distancing Advice

Image result for coronavirusIn these very uncertain times, we thought it prudent to direct you to a few documents which are very clear, detailed and helpful for both Employers and Employees regarding Coronavirus (COVID -19)

Guidance from ACAS on the Coronavirus can be found here – this gives very clear advice for both employers and employees, and answers some difficult questions regarding sick pay, working from home and social distancing

Guidance for Employers –  this guidance from the government is updated daily, and can be found here 

Guidance on Social Distancing – can be found  here – this gives more detail of the groups who are at increased risk of severe illness from Coronavirus, and explains Social Distancing in more detail