Having successfully managed a significantly challenging period with professionalism and determination, we are very pleased to have re-opened our doors to our staff and clients.
During the lockdown period Poole Alcock has not only maintained its service, it has grown, it has developed and perhaps most importantly it has shown a resilience that is a testament to the strength and quality of each and every person who contributes to that ongoing success.
This success is not accidental, it is a result of the considerable steps that we have implemented, embracing the challenges of the present time to ensure that we provide an unrivalled level of service in a safe and welcoming environment to all of our clients.
We have made our offices safe through physical interventions which include; the provision of safety screens, hand sanitiser, an enhanced cleaning regime and single use items for refreshments, all of which enables us to continue to offer the level of service that our clients should expect.
We protect our clients by offering well planned appointments, either in person or virtually. Clients visiting our offices can feel assured that their safety is paramount to us, through a tailored service which includes pre-visit health checks, a strict social distancing policy and the provision of masks, gloves and any other PPE required.
Our interventions has already seen the return of client confidence, evidenced through an increased number of clients visiting our offices to sign documents and attend meetings in person.
Importantly, we continue to protect and support our staff to work successfully through the provision of excellent IT services and increasing availability of safe, welcoming office accommodation. We continue to recognise individual needs, working together to make the best use of any available support, be that through government initiatives or our own Human Resources response.
Poole Alcock is proud of the part it plays in each community that it works, and we are pleased to see the buzz return to our towns both inside and outside of our own business. Without question our lawyers and wider staff team, will play an important role in continuing to rebuild confidence and we will do so in a manner which is respectful of, but not hindered by the current situation relating to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In recent days we have seen many examples of how the current circumstances bring out the best in people, from within our firm and throughout the wider public. Unfortunately though there are those who seek to capitalise on the uncertainty and fear surrounding the outbreak of Covid-19. Cyber criminals in particular have been extremely active and there has been a significant increase in fraudulent “phishing” emails being sent to people. A “phishing” email is where a fraudster tries to ‘hook’ a potential victim by pretending to be someone else in order to get the victim to send them money.
We have received the following guidance from Cheshire Police and we would encourage all of our clients to read it carefully.
Here are some examples of phishing emails that have been doing the rounds.
We are truly living in unprecedented times and employers should certainly be live to the possibility of school closures (or year groups and classes being sent home) and the impact this may have on its workforce.
As it currently stands employees are entitled to a “reasonable” amount of time off to look after children. The current position is unlikely to be short term however and may entirely depend on the availability of a covid-19 test and the length of time to get the results back.
Some workers may be able to work at home but this does not apply to all job sectors. The ability to effectively work from home will be greatly hampered by having caring responsibilities for children during the day. Employers are encouraged to consider flexible working arrangements to allow employees to work around such childcare commitments. Any agreed arrangements should be kept under review and expressed as “subject to variation”.
There needs to be clear and open communication between staff and employers. Early consideration should be given to employees taking annual leave, taking parental leave, possible alterations to working hours or unpaid leave if necessary.
If you require further information or advice do not hesitate to get in touch.
If an Employee has symptoms of Coronavirus they must self-isolate for ten days. If the Employee is able to work from home then they will be entitled to normal pay.
If the Employee is unable to work during self-isolation they are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay from the first day of absence. If they are on a zero hour/casual contract SSP is only payable if they earn an average of £118 per week over an 8 week period.
If an Employee does not have the symptoms of Coronavirus and chooses to be off then they are not entitled to pay.
If a company has less than 250 members of staff; SSP can be claimed back from the government for a 14 day period.
If you suspect a member of staff has the virus then you should ask them to leave the premises and advise them to self-isolate. If they insist that they are fit for work please get in touch so that we can advise.
With children possibly being sent home from school, many members of staff will have to look after children. It may be feasible for the member of staff to work from home if they are able to do so. If they are unable to work from home (and are not sick) consider annual leave, flexible working, or unpaid leave.
Whether lay-off is possible depends upon what is written in the contract of employment. If not permitted in the contract then consideration should be given to agreeing a variation in working hours. If an agreement cannot be reached then employers will inevitably need to consider making redundancies. It is very important that a fair process is followed to effect this process – please do get in touch to see how we may assist you.
In this uncertain time it is difficult to know what challenges will face social services and how these will be overcome. We have produced this guide for parents currently working with the Local Authority.
There will unavoidably be meetings, courses and visits cancelled. If you are unable to attend anything as a result of self-isolation, communication is the key. Make sure you notify your social worker at the earliest opportunity and contact the solicitor with conduct of your case so they can also communicate any missed appointments to the Local Authority legal department.
Ensure that you and your family adhere to the self-isolation guidelines to ensure you all keep safe and well. Guidance is readily available on the NHS and government website.
Unfortunately not all contact can go ahead and alternatives have to be considered such as Facetime, Skype or telephone. It is important guidance is sought from the contact worker, social worker or family support worker before engaging in alternative contact arrangements.
At the time of writing, all court hearings are going ahead and you will be expected to attend. The current guidance is that if you are self-isolating you should seek to evidence this. If you are unsure then contact your solicitor who can inform the court on your behalf and take telephone instructions from you.
We remain open to support you during this difficult time with face to face or telephone appointments available. Should we be required to work from home, our firm has excellent IT systems which allow us to work securely and seamlessly in the event of self-isolation. Find out more here.