Returning to the Roads

For many businesses driving is one of the highest risk activities that their employees undertake. Following the lockdown, it may be that some employees haven’t driven for a full 12 weeks, and others only in a limited capacity. They will all be returning to the roads at the same time and, since the Government has recommended that people avoid using public transport, they could be busier than ever. It’s important therefore that businesses consider the increased risks and respond accordingly.

Busier Roads

The Government has advised people to avoid public transport to ensure social distancing is maintained. Therefore, those employees who use trains, tubes and buses to get to work may start driving. The increased road use could result in a rise in road accidents and fatalities.

More people driving on busier roads may result in employees working longer days and increase levels of fatigue. It is important that businesses review their driving for work policies and take this into consideration.

Driver competence

Given the length of time it may have been since some employees last drove their vehicles, they may need to re-learn some of the skills, habits and behaviours that keep them safe behind the wheel. Businesses should consider providing refresher training and guidance on safe driving techniques within their return to work training, particularly for employees whose work involves driving. This should include inspecting and checking vehicles that may not have been used in recent weeks.

Changes to the way we drive

As with everything following this lockdown, the roads are likely to be different in many areas. To encourage social distancing, many local authorities are reallocating road space in cities to pedestrians and cyclists. This could mean narrower roads, higher rates of congestion and consequently longer and more stressful journeys.

Anyone who has driven in recent weeks will also have noticed the increased number of cyclists on the roads. The combination of reduced road capacity and an increase in vulnerable road users is something drivers will need to adjust to and is likely to increase the risks faced on the road.

Changes to the way we work

The Government guidance on working safely through the pandemic recommend a number of changes within the workplace and to working patterns which may have an indirect effect on driving safely. To maintain social distancing, employers are separating teams, and introducing staggered shifts and longer working days. All of these measures could increase employee fatigue which is a common cause of road traffic accidents.

If you need any help reviewing your driving for work policies and risk assessments, please contact our health and safety management team. 

By Rachel Cuff CMIOSHRisk Consultant

New Electrical Safety Standards for Private Landlords

Want to hear about something other than Coronavirus? I can’t promise it’s more interesting than Coronavirus but it’s still nice to talk about something else!

New regulations (The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020) have been introduced that mean that from June 1 2020, private landlords have new duties. They will be enforced by local housing authorities and remedial action could be taken with potentially significant financial penalties for a breach of duty.


To which tenancies do the regulations apply?

The Regulations cover private tenancies only and outline specific excluded tenancies.

What are the duties under the regulations?

The regulations impose various duties in relation to electrical installations on private landlords. The duties include:

  • ensuring that the electrical safety standards are met during any period when the residential premises are occupied under a tenancy;
  • ensuring every fixed electrical installation is inspected and tested at least every five years by a qualified person;
  • ensuring the first inspection and testing is carried out before the tenancy commences;
  • obtaining a report which gives the results of the inspection and test, supplying copies to the tenant and the housing authority and retaining a copy until the next inspection is due;
  • supplying a copy of the last report to any new tenant before occupation, or any prospective tenant within 28 days of a request from them;
  • carrying out any work required in the report within 28 days;
  • obtaining and supplying written confirmation of completion of such further investigative or remedial work to the tenant and local housing authority.

Remedies for breach and financial penalties

If there are reasonable grounds to believe a private landlord has breached their duty, the local housing authority can serve a remedial notice giving the landlord 28 days to take remedial action.

A financial penalty can also be imposed on a private landlord who has breached a duty. The regulations set out the procedure and there is a right of appeal. The penalty may be of such amount as the authority imposing it determines but must not exceed £30,000 and there may be more than one penalty in the event of a continuing failure.

If you would like our help and advice in any area of health and safety management, please get in touch with our Health and Safety Management Team on 01302 341 344.

By Rachel Cuff CMIOSHRisk Consultant



The Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill

It’s not the most exciting name for a parliamentary bill, but with everyone so focused on Covid-19 it’s important to remember that other legislation which will affect UK employers is still working its way through Parliament.

The above Bill was subject to a second reading on Monday 18th May 2020 and looks to do the following:

  • Repeal the EU law which will end free movement of EU, EEA and Swiss nationals. This will mean that EU, EEA and Swiss nationals (as well as their family) will be subject to UK immigration laws, after the end of the Brexit transition period, which is currently 31st December 2020.
  • Protect the rights of Irish citizens to enter the UK without being subject to the UK immigration laws that will exist for other EU members.
  • Allows the Government (through regulations) to modify retained EU law on social security co-ordination.

What does the Bill not cover?

The Bill does not indicate or confirm the new immigration system, which will apply (after the Brexit transition period) to EU and non-EU citizens. Instead, we will have to wait until the ‘Immigration Rules’ are released some time before January 2021. However, the Government did release a policy statement back in February 2020, which gave some initial details of how it would work. These are detailed below:

Skilled Workers

  • The UK will be introducing a point based system and while initially a general salary threshold of £30,000 was proposed, this has now been reduced to £25,600.
    • It is worth noting that applicants who fall under the category of skilled worker will be able to ‘trade’ characteristics i.e. specific terms of their job offer and qualifications against a lower salary than the above threshold in order to enter the country to work.
  • The skills threshold is being reduced from RQF6 (bachelor’s degree) to RQF3 (A Levels), the cap is removed on the number of people that can enter through the skilled worker route and they are removing the resident labour market test.
    • These changes mean that skilled workers will be able to come to the UK from anywhere in the world and the process will be simpler. This is to marry up with the Government’s message that the UK is open for business.
  • Skilled workers will have to demonstrate that they have a job offer from an approved sponsor, the job offer is at the required skill level, and that they can speak English. Potential migrants will have to meet the points system as below, of which a total of 70 points is required to be eligible to apply to enter the UK:
Characteristics Tradeable Points
Offer of job by approved sponsor No 20
Job at appropriate skill level No 20
Speaks English at required level No 10
Salary of £20,480 (minimum) – £23,039 Yes 0
Salary of £23,040 – £25,599 Yes 10
Salary of £25,600 or above Yes 20
Job in a shortage occupation (as designated by the MAC) Yes 20
Education qualification: PhD in subject relevant to the job Yes 10
Education qualification: PhD in a STEM subject relevant to the job Yes 20


Highly-skilled Workers

  • The government is also looking to create a route for ‘highly-skilled’ workers to enter the UK without sponsorship/or a job offer subject to them meeting the required points threshold. It is yet to be determined what would categorise someone as ‘highly-skilled’

Lower-skilled workers

  • Currently, the Government has committed to reducing overall migration and therefore is not planning on creating a new route for lower-skilled workers, however, it acknowledges the following:
    • UK businesses will be expected to adapt to the ending of free movement following the end of the Brexit transition and rather than relying on being able to easily recruit lower-skilled workers should focus on investment in staff retention, productivity and wider investment in technology and automation.
    • Over 3.2 million applications have been made to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) and both pre-settled and settled status under the EUSS allows unrestricted rights to work.
    • Pilot schemes for seasonal workers in agriculture have been quadrupled to 10,000 places
    • Youth mobility arrangements exist with eight countries/territories which allows for 20,000 young people to enter the UK which will help fill the lower-skilled vacancies

Other things to note:

  • The UK expects to treat EU citizens as non-visa nationals meaning that they can come to the UK for up to 6 months without requiring a VISA
  • Government expects to allow EU citizens to continue to use e-gates at border control, but they will keep this policy under review (potentially being a reflection on which countries allow UK citizens to enter through their own border controls using e-gates respectively).
  • There isn’t a proposed route for self-employed persons, however they will be able to continue to enter through the ‘innovator’ route, allowing artists, musicians, entertainers etc to continue to contribute to the British economy.

The changes to the system are large, so keep an eye out for future blogs from the team which will provide information on any updates, the progress on Brexit and how it may affect employee rights and information regarding the VISA process for migrant workers.

By Kris Kerins BSc (Hons) PGC (Tech Mgmt)HR Business Partner

Covid-19 and Employers Liability Insurance

As an employer you have a legal duty to care for the health and safety of your employees. Your employers liability policy provides protection against your legal liability to your employees, including property damage and bodily injury. Bodily injury includes illness, including illness resulting in death and this could potentially involve legal liability incurred from Covid-19. However, this would be dependant on the employee proving that you had breached your duty of care.


Potential claims could come in several different forms:

Infection – an employee could allege they had caught the infection whilst at work due to their employers not providing PPE, enforcing the 2-metre rule, testing etc.

Psychological injury due to overworkdue to social distancing it may not be possible to have a full workforce but this could lead to others suffering increased stress as they have to cope with additional work.

Overwork or redistributed work leading to physical injurywhen staff are covering for others it is essential that they are appropriately trained to do so and should be carefully monitored.

Working from Homewe are being encouraged to work from home where at all possible but an employer has the same responsibilities for their employees working environment as they do at their own premises so need to risk assess to ensure it is suitable and that the employee is properly equipped

Vicarious Liability employers are vicariously liable for their employee’s negligence. It is possible to envisage claims where employers could be faced with claims attempts from clients where an infected employee has not self-isolated and continued to interact with customers, negligence from employee fatigue, claims where an employee has gone against instructions and operated equipment or vehicles that they are not authorised or trained to operate.

This does not paint a very pretty picture going forward but in the litigious society we live in and with potential hardship following job losses and a recession it is inevitable that attempts will be made. The key to defending such claims will be in the paper trail so employers should endeavour to get risk assessments in place with suitable PPE and guidelines for employees to follow in line with current Government Advice. All employees should be asked to sign to say they have read and understood what their responsibilities are when they return to work following lockdown.

Employers must ensure that they approach this risk as they would any other risk to the health and wellbeing of employees, taking sensible steps to discharge their duty of care and to document their assessment and adopted policies. Being able to demonstrate that you considered the risks carefully and took sensible steps to mitigate those risks will be crucial evidence in defence of any subsequent claim. If someone becomes infected at work in the absence of evidence of such steps having been taken, the employer is vulnerable to being found in breach of duty and liable for losses arising.

Planning should start with the current government advice, having regard to the need to identify vulnerable individuals, ensure the infected feel able to report symptoms and self-isolate, the instigation of sensible home working policies where possible, introducing appropriate social distancing measures, ensuring that appropriate facilities are available to wash/disinfect hands and that suitably robust and regular cleaning of premises is undertaken.

Early identification of the infected, and those in close contact with them, is essential.

Damages would include awards for PSLA for the symptoms suffered, which could vary from the trivial to the fatal, plus compensation for a range of potential heads of past and future loss, in particular loss of earnings, care and domestic assistance.

As stated above, proving causation is likely to be extremely difficult. If you would like advice or help from ProAktive relating to risk management in your workplace, please get in touch with us on 01302 341 344.

By Jo Elliott ACII, Chartered Insurance Broker – Account Executive






Is your insurance cover still protecting your business?

Insurance cover might not be at the forefront of your mind at the moment, but it is as important now than ever.

We have already explored and communicated some important features and changes to your insurance cover during the Covid-19 pandemic. We have spoken to lots of companies who have made adjustments to their business to adapt and follow the governments guidance, which as we know includes working from home where possible. Recently we discussed premises becoming unoccupied and the need to inform insurers in these circumstances. Whilst a lot of insurers have amended their standard wordings to allow some leeway with the notification period, we would urge you not to lose track of this.

Where computer and other office equipment have been taken away from the office and to the homes of employees, it is also important to ensure your insurance extends to cover this, often known as ‘All Risks’ cover. Again, insurers appreciate the unprecedented circumstances, and many have automatically extended their policies, but it is vital that you make your broker aware of this so they can confirm accordingly and amend your cover if necessary.

At this juncture it is also important to consider the other risks to your company which have increased as a result of the changes we’ve all had to make. Cyber attacks are on the rise which make it all the more difficult for businesses to function with their employees at home, relying on the limited equipment available. Other exposures that may also be increased are Directors and Officers as well as Employment Practices Liability. Therefore, it has never been more important to assess your cover and vulnerabilities.

It may be the case that some of the cover you have can be reduced if not currently required or being used, however, this will depend on your individual business needs and activities. We would suggest contacting your broker for a discussion on this matter if this could apply to you.

By Molly White Cert CIICommercial Account Handler


Can employers carry out disciplinary and grievance procedures during the Coronavirus pandemic?

Many businesses were already in the throes of disciplinary and grievance procedures and when Covid-19 hit, and the initial Government restrictions came into force on the 23rd of March, most employers paused these processes as there were other priorities to deal with.

Many employees were put on furlough or began working from home however, employers are now wondering if it is safe to resume or conclude these processes or deal with any new issues which are arising as employees return to work.

Whilst in the early stages of this crisis there was a great deal of uncertainty, guidance has now been issued by ACAS to confirm the position.

If employees are furloughed:

ACAS guidance suggests that if someone is currently on a period of furlough they can still participate in a disciplinary or grievance hearing or investigation without this interrupting their period of furlough leave, including if they are the subject of the hearing, acting as chair, minute taker or witness. This is as long as they’re doing it out of their own choice (‘voluntarily’) and it takes place inline with current public health guidance. Whilst we do not have any official clarity from the government or the HMRC that participating in formal hearings during a period of furlough is allowed under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (without breaking the period of furlough or affecting an Employers ability to claim), ACAS are an independent public body funded by the Government and is the leading authority on all things relating to employment.


Whilst an employee is furloughed it is important to remember that you cannot ask your employee to do any work that:

  • makes money for your organisation or any organisation linked or associated with your organisation
  • provides services for your organisation or any organisation linked or associated with your organisation.


Businesses should also consider the personal circumstances of the employees who are working from home or on a period of furlough. For example, if they are self-isolating or have childcare responsibilities whilst schools remain closed.


Practically, it may be challenging to conclude a formal hearing whilst employees are on furlough as they may not have access to other staff members or information at their workplace in order to prepare their case. This should be carefully considered when deciding if it is appropriate to continue or to postpone the formal process.


Subject to an employee agreeing to participate, the hearing should place in line with the current public health and Government guidance.


Carrying out a meeting

There is no doubt that the Coronavirus Pandemic has resulted in businesses looking for new and innovative ways of working including the use of new technology.

Hearings must take place in line with the current public health guidance and as part of this, you may want to consider alternative ways to conclude hearings, such as holding them remotely via conference call or video meetings etc. When selecting the most appropriate way of holding the meeting you should ensure that the security level of any application you use is in line with your Privacy and GDPR policies.

The right for an employee to be accompanied at a disciplinary or grievance hearing still applies. The employee’s chosen companion must be able to attend the hearing, even if it is being carried out through a video meeting. During the coronavirus pandemic, the availability of an employee’s chosen companion might be more limited than usual. For example, caring responsibilities. The Employer should consider if a delay of more than 5 days is reasonable in the circumstances.


Other considerations include:

  • Does everyone have access to the required technology?
  • Does anyone involved have any disability or other accessibility issues that might affect their ability to use video technology, or are any reasonable adjustments needed?
  • Can any witness statements or other evidence be seen clearly by everyone involved during the hearing?
  • Will it be possible to fairly assess and question evidence given by people interviewed in a video meeting?
  • Is it possible to get hold of all the evidence needed for the investigation or hearing, for example records or files that are kept in the office?
  • Is it possible for the person under a disciplinary investigation or who raised a grievance to be accompanied during the hearing and is it possible for them to confer in private during the meeting?

It is worth noting that if the employee prefers to have the process paused to allow an in-person hearing to be arranged then this is more appropriate than insisting on a remote hearing. Alternatively, if the matter is of a serious nature it may not be appropriate to delay the process.

The employee’s right of appeal

The employee’s right of appeal still applies.

It is important to remember that the law and ACAS Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures still apply during the coronavirus pandemic. This includes whilst social distancing and lockdown measures are in place.

Whether the employer decides to go ahead with the procedure or postpone it, they should explain their decision to those involved. This will help everyone to be clear about what has been agreed and why.

Participating in a formal hearing during the current pandemic will no doubt be stressful for all concerned and employers should give careful consideration to the health and wellbeing of all participants when deciding on how best to proceed. If you would like further information or advice, please contact our HR Consultancy Team on 01302 341 344.

By Louise Turner MBA Assoc CIPDHR Business Partner

Working safely through Coronavirus (Covid-19)

We understand how hard things are at the present time and that you will be concerned for the safety of your families and your employees.

The government has similar concerns for the safety of your employees and has tasked the HSE to monitor safety standards within businesses at this time. To this end, the HSE has been provided with an additional £14m of funding to pay for more telephone agents, inspectors and equipment. Inspectors have been told to get out into the workplace and make sure standards are being maintained, in terms of normal work activities, and raised, where necessary, to protect the workforce.

As is normal, the HSE won’t say where they are going to go or when. Their presence therefore looms over us all. Whilst all we can do is strive to do what’s reasonable and proportionate for the protection of everyone, you should be aware that there is the potential that your decisions could be questioned.

You should also be aware that the HSE have set up a new report line specifically for employees to report concerns that employers aren’t doing enough to protect them from COVID-19. It is inevitable that any reports to this new line will raise suspicions and questions, again, will be asked. At the heart of the matter is the government’s advice on how to work safely during this outbreak (

At ProAktive, we have tailored our advice to suit your sector. If you require any further advice on how best to protect your people and your business, get in touch with us. We’re here to take your call and are set up to discuss over a video call if you would prefer.

What is your insurer’s current stance on your unoccupied premises?

As the Covid-19 situation develops and more businesses start to work from home, it is essential you are aware of the policy conditions that come into play when leaving your premises unoccupied for a number of days. Insurers are trying to help business by reducing the conditions applied and extending the number of days where it is mandatory to report that the premises are unoccupied. But do you know what yours is saying?

Aviva, NIG, Hiscox and Folgate insurance have all extended the notice period to insurers of unoccupancy to 90 days as opposed to 30 days. Other insurers such as RSA, AXA and Ansvar are still requesting notification but are relaxing the conditions applicable when a property is unoccupied where it is not reasonable or safe to manage. Most insurers, as long as they are informed, are adapting their stance on a case by case basis as to what is reasonable for you and your business.

Despite insurers relaxing their position, there are still conditions that may apply to your premises whilst unoccupied such as:

  • All security such as alarms and CCTV must be activated
  • Regular visits to the premises (where safe and reasonably possible) to make sure the property is secure must be undertaken
  • Mains water to be switched off

If you are unsure of the conditions on your policy, believe you are unable to comply with certain ones or if you don’t know your insurers current stance, please do get in touch with your broker/insurance contact so your insurers can be informed and your cover remains in place throughout this difficult time.

By Rachel Storey Dip CII- Account Executive

Have your premises become temporarily unoccupied as a result of Covid19?

If you are one of the companies who have had to temporality close as a result of the latest government advice, we understand that you will have enough on your mind already.

Most insurance policies do however contain a clause regarding notification to your insurer if your premises/business becomes unoccupied. Every insurers stance is slightly different and therefore we ask in the first instance that you let us know if this affects you and we can discuss with your insurers accordingly.

Our initial advice would be to ensure that all of your existing security protections and alarms have been activated and where possible premises are visited on a regular basis. We realise that subject to isolations this may not always be possible.

We are confident at this stage that there will be no cover restrictions, but we strongly recommend that you notify any change in circumstance.

By Helen ParsonsBroking Manager

Our Mental Health & Coronavirus

As we head into this unprecedented time, it is natural that we concentrate on the physical measures required to stop the spread of the disease. What we may do though, is neglect our mental health during this period. We are not experts in this field, however we thought it might be prudent to bring together some sensible advice that may be of help.

Firstly, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has published an in depth document with advice during the crisis (click here). It gives some sensible brief advice: minimise watching, reading or listening to news that makes you feel anxious; keep updated through official sources only and; get the facts not the rumours.

This might not make much sense initially, but it’s easy during these times to become addicted to Twitter and Facebook messages of doom. Getting advice from recognised official sources means that you’re not participating in misinformation and you are getting the information that you really need. The WHO also advise to maintain social contact, with neighbours and friends, and not to be afraid to express how you feel. Finally, it is important to maintain exercise to aid mobility and ease boredom, particularly if you are in isolation.

The Mental Health Foundation also has some good advice (Click Here). It reinforces the WHO’s advice regarding news, but further advises to: stick to a normal routine if possible, remembering stress management and a healthy diet; try not to make assumptions about who or what is responsible for the outbreak and; try to anticipate distress.

It is natural to feel vulnerable and overwhelmed, so it is important to try and reassure people that you know might be worried or who you know are alone during this time.

Finally, OCD UK has some salient advice for sufferers (Click Here) which includes: limiting hand washing time to the 20 seconds recommended by medical experts; not allowing OCD to dictate self-isolation; and that it is okay to continue any ongoing therapy.

It’s important to end this on a positive note and OCD UK helpfully provides a list of things that we can still do:

  • Listen to music
  • Talk to and video message friends and family
  • Read your favourite books
  • Enjoy the outdoors, even if it’s your garden in the short term
  • Sing or dance at home (sometimes it’s best that these are done behind closed doors!)
  • Smile and laugh
  • Watch your favourite film or tv shows
  • Have hope

Some further useful sources of information includes: The American Centres for Disease Control (CDC), The United Nations (UN), Mind UK, The UK Government and Public Health England.

We’re in this together. Please get in touch with us if you feel we can help you with managing risk in your workplace.

By Ian Clayton CMIOSHHealth and Safety Manager