COVID-19, Lockdown, Downturn, and New Hires

April 14, 2020

in COVID-19,Employment

Say you’re a business owner who signed-up a contract for a new employee to start with you some time after the COVID-19 lockdown started, or even after it is (fingers crossed) due to end.

Or you might be a ‘pending’ employee waiting to begin work in that situation.

Now say the job is not one that can be started and done from home.  Or maybe it can be, but currently the financial outlook for the business means the business really would be better-off without the extra payroll cost.  Or it could be both.

Is it legal for the business owner in that situation to say that because of current circumstances the job just isn’t going ahead?

The short answer is no.  Employment law is interested in a lot more than just the change of circumstances.  If the law considers someone an employee (which isn’t as straightforward as you might think), then our law will require much the same as if you were considering making an employee of long-standing redundant.

One slight difference at the moment is that given the current situation, it would be reasonable to conduct the process with more urgency than might otherwise be the case.

The situation may be a little less straightforward where an employer has sent a contract out to an employee, who has signed and returned the contract, but the employer has not yet signed the contract.  If you are on either side of that situation, a careful examination of the circumstances would be required.

If any of what we have said speaks to the situation you are in, or you are not sure if you have an employer-employee situation, or you want to know about how you can or should run any necessary process, please feel free to get in touch to discuss.

If you require any advice or further information on the matters dealt with in this publication please contact the lawyer at Farry and Co. who normally advises you, or alternatively contact:

Wallace Revell
09 353 6672

The information contained in this publication is intended as a guide only.  It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such.  Professional advice should be sought before applying any of the information to particular circumstances.  While every reasonable care has been taken in the preparation of this publication, Farry and Co. does not accept liability for any errors it may contain.

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