Lead Forensics
Prettys Solicitors Ipswich

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Coronavirus advice for Vets and Veterinary Businesses

With the government now seeking to impose more serious restrictions on movement and activities as a result of the coronavirus pandemic we thought it would be useful to highlight the key considerations for Vets in the face of this unprecedented situation.

General Advice:

We have some general suggestions on how to deal with the social distancing requirements for client visits given that the industry is one where home-working simply isn’t an option.

Employment issues:

We would strongly recommend (if you haven’t already) that you review your sickness absence policy in light of the outbreak. Unfortunately the veterinary industry isn’t one which is well-suited to home working but you need to consider the position of your employees who have to self-isolate or look after family members or children.

The Prime Minister announced last week that employers should be taking the illness seriously and said those suffering will get statutory sick pay (SSP) from the first day off work. The change, which is being introduced in emergency legislation, is expected to mean an extra £40 for people receiving SSP – which is set at £94.25 a week and paid by employers. Employers with under 250 employees will be able to reclaim 2 weeks statutory sick pay from the government.

The aim of this new legislation regarding payment of statutory sick pay from day one is to ensure people with coronavirus do not feel financial pressure to come into work and risk spreading the disease.

Consider your out-of-hours arrangements in the event that you cannot provide the service due to sickness – is there the opportunity for a co-operative approach with other independent practices in the area? You could even consider the services temporarily of larger out-of-hours providers as a backup.

Finally, make sure you undertake a risk assessment to ascertain if you have any particularly vulnerable employees (those over the age of 70, those with underlying medical conditions or those who are pregnant, for example) and ensure that you take every possible measure to reduce the risk as far as possible in relation to their continued employment. If current duties pose a risk then you may need to consider a temporary reallocation of duties during this period, making sure you take HR/employment advice on doing so.

Property and Rents:

It may be tempting to consider not paying the rent in these difficult circumstances but you should bear the following in mind:

Contracts:

You may have a number of supplier or laboratory contracts which you may wish to suspend or cancel during this time. However if you want to be able to suspend or terminate your agreement early you will need to review the contract thoroughly and consider the following:

If you need any specific support and advice during this time then please do give our specialist team a call and we can assist. Our team are fully set up to work from home with access to all the usual systems and precedents.

You can access the government’s business advice page here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses

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