COVID-19: General advice for IAAF members and businesses

In light of the speed of changes with regard to the ongoing situation, members are urged to check regularly for the latest government information and advice and to promptly follow all recommendations given.

There is a Coronavirus Financial Support page within the Business Support pages on gov.uk which can be accessed HERE.

In addition, information for businesses and employers can be found HERE and information on social distancing can be found HERE.

Other guidance can also be found on gov.uk and nhs.uk.

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IAAF calls for Government COVID-19 support

With the coronavirus pandemic ongoing, the Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation (IAAF) has called on the Government to implement a number of measures that support both individuals and businesses of all sizes in the automotive aftermarket.

After the recent announcement that positive measures will be put in place to support independent SMEs, IAAF has issued letters to a number of government departments, including the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, urging for more help for the entire automotive aftermarket supply chain.

The federation is also urging that the thousands of delivery drivers, who are vital during this difficult time, should be categorised as ‘key workers’ to enable their children to have access to day care, where available.

Williamson outlined the scale and size of the automotive aftermarket and how the crisis affected all within the supply chain including parts suppliers, distributors, garages, service centres and workshops.

As a sector the independent automotive aftermarket is worth £21.6 billion, supporting nearly 350.000 jobs representing 42,000 outlets across the UK.

Concerned about how the issues will affect the automotive aftermarket, Wendy Williamson, IAAF chief executive, said in the letter: “I want to stress that we have many companies and individuals who are facing significant challenges and there is more need than ever to keep drivers on the road so that infrastructure can remain as stable as possible.”

IAAF is urging the government to introduce a range of measures for both individuals and businesses including support for those working reduced hours; temporarily not working due to falling demand; support for temporary lay-offs; statutory sick pay relief; extending business rate relief to all businesses; extending the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme to any business, irrespective of size; and offer scope to include delaying payment for VAT, National Insurance Contributions and PAYE.

Williamson continued: “Whilst the health and welfare of our members and their employees is always of paramount importance, we need to work together to protect the industry. The time to act is now, as we need to have the procedures in place to ensure the industry can continue to survive during the current crisis.”

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COVID-19: Let your customers know you’re still here during the restrictions

In response to the current situation, TechmanGMS, who recently joined the IAAF, have produced a brief guide on how to communicate to your loyal customers and local community. With the unprecedented situation presented by COVID-19, many people will be working from home and not able or willing to travel as much as usual.

If you already offer collection and delivery services to your customers, or are planning to do so, now is the time to let them know!

To read more of the suggestions, please CLICK HERE.

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COVID-19 and IAAF Events

Following the announcement by the government this week, the IAAF has taken the decision to postpone all events until the end of May 2020. This is also in line with guidance issued to many of our member companies restricting travel, meetings and event attendance and we feel this is the right action to take to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus at this point in time.

This means that regrettably the IAAF Industry Briefing Session which was due to take place on Thursday 26th March has been postponed. Once it is possible to arrange a new date, those who had notified us that they would be attending will be contacted.

With many members increasingly looking to work from home we will also be exploring ways to ensure we keep in touch with our members via online networking and communication.

We will continue to monitor the situation closely and further updates will be issued in the weekly e-bulletin as usual.

If you would like to discuss any of the above information then please contact the IAAF office on 0121 748 4600 or e-mail [email protected].

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COVID-19: Emergency government funding available to businesses

As the fallout from the Coronavirus pandemic continues, many businesses say they are teetering on the brink as revenues plunge following the stay at home advice.

Fortunately, emergency funding of £330 billion will be put aside from the government’s financial support package for businesses of all sizes in a bid to help those impacted by Coronavirus.

The Chancellor has vowed to do “whatever it takes” to help the economy with an “unprecedented package” including Government-backed loans equivalent to 15 per cent of GDP, with the potential to be extended further depending on the demand.

What’s Included in COVID-19 Emergency Funding?

  • Government backed loans with attractive terms for payment of rent, salaries, suppliers or stock.
  • For businesses in retail, hospitality and leisure, rates will be waived for 12 months for 2020/21.
  • The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme expanded from £1.2m to £5m with an interest waiver for first 6 months.
  • Grants to small businesses eligible for Small Business Rate Relief will be increased from £3,000 to £10,000.
  • Further £25,000 grants for retail, hospitality, and leisure businesses operating from smaller business premises defined as those within a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000.
  • £10,000 one-off grant to businesses that pay little or no business rates due to small business rent relief or rural rate relief.
  • Small and medium sized business will be able to reclaim SSP for sickness due to COVID-19.
  • Support for liquidity for larger business with a new scheme from the Bank of England.
  • The advice to avoid pubs, clubs and theatres is sufficient to trigger a claim under business interruption insurance.
  • Pubs and restaurants are able to provide a takeaway service without a planning application.

Full details of how these initiatives will work are due for release early next week, whilst further initiatives are also expected in the next few days focused on employment related issues.

Updates will be given as information becomes available.

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Aftermarket specialist becomes new IAAF Vice President

Richard Welland, managing director of WAIglobal UK, has been appointed the new Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation (IAAF) vice-president, supporting president, Terry Knox and chief executive, Wendy Williamson, before taking over as president in 2021.

The new-look council was announced at IAAF’s recent largest Annual General Meeting (AGM) to date.

Welland is very familiar with the federation, as he was previously Honorary Treasurer for more than 10 years, before stepping down to assume his new role.

As the managing director of one of the UK’s largest rotating electrics suppliers, Welland has extensive experience in the automotive industry, and has presided over many mergers and acquisitions to successfully grow the business.

In his role, Welland works to ensure product availability remains at an optimum and is able to predict market changes and developments often before they happen, thanks to his industry insight.

On his new appointment, Welland said: “I have always been passionate about this industry and with so many technical developments expected in the upcoming years, my time as Vice President, and then President, is sure to be exciting. We have a great team of aftermarket specialists on the IAAF Council, and I’m confident that we will work together to support the wider industry and overcome any challenges.

“I’d like to express my gratitude to all of the well-wishers for their kind comments since announcing my new role. I look forward to serving the IAAF and its members and will give everything I have to the role.”

The IAAF Council is a voluntary group of aftermarket individuals made up of the Federation’s representatives, including distributors, suppliers, buying groups, service providers and garages, who come together regularly to debate industry issues and IAAF policy, ensuring the independent aftermarket can continue to thrive and develop.

Wendy Williamson, IAAF chief executive said: “Richard is a great advocate for the automotive aftermarket and I’m delighted to welcome him into his new position as Vice President. He las long-supported IAAF and his industry experience makes him the perfect candidate to understand and tackle issues affecting the sector.”

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COVID-19: Advice for employers from Lawgistics on sick-pay and self-isolation

The IAAF’s legal helpline provider, Lawgistics, has produced the following advice for employers with regard to the Coronavirus.

Over the coming months Lawgistics will be issuing legal updates specifically focusing on the coronavirus situation, in order to answer the most frequently asked questions and to provide employers with guidance on managing their workforce during this difficult time.

This update addresses the immediate questions raised from the PM’s public announcement on Monday 16th March.

If any IAAF member has any questions related to the coronavirus which you would like to be answered in future updates, please email [email protected]

My employee has gone into self-isolation. What sick pay is due?
Any employee going into self-isolation as a precautionary measure against coronavirus infection will be eligible to receive SSP, provided all other usual conditions are satisfied. SSP is payable to the employee “isolating himself from other people in such a manner as to prevent infection or contamination with coronavirus disease, in accordance with guidance published by Public Health England, NHS National Services Scotland or Public Health Wales and effective on 12th March 2020; and by reason of that isolation is unable to work.” This change has come into force on 13 March 2020 and is temporary expiring in 8 months.

Employees do not to have a confirmed case of coronavirus, neither will they likely be tested for it.

Public Health England currently advises anyone with new continuous cough and/or high temperature, however mild, to self-isolate for a period of 7 days. No sick notes and no individual direction from a health professional to self-isolate are necessary.

The Prime Minister announced on 16 March 2020 that anyone who has been in contact with someone who experiences the symptoms of the coronavirus infection will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days, so that the entire household will need to stay self-isolated for this period.

Public Health England also advises that people who have returned from Hubei Province, including Wuhan, Iran, Daegu or Cheongdo in the Republic of Korea, and any area within Italy under containment measures in the last 14 days should avoid attending work. They should call NHS 111 for advice and stay at home.

Finally, the Government suggests that those who have had close contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus will be asked to stay at home for 14 days from the last time they had contact with the confirmed case and follow the home isolation advice sheet.

It would be enough for the employee to fall into any of the above categories to be deemed incapacitated for SSP purposes.

The abolition of the waiting days, so that SSP is payable from day one of self-isolation, was announced in the budget but no changes to the relevant regulations have yet been made. It was also announced that small and medium sized businesses employing fewer than 250 employees as of 28 February 2020 will be reimbursed SSP paid for the first 14 days of sickness as a result of coronavirus.

The SSP rate is currently £94.25 each week rising to £95.85 from 6 April 2020.

Remember that the first 7 days of incapacity are self-certified. The Government has also indicated that requirements for sick notes will be relaxed but no specific regulations have yet been made.

Employees affected by coronavirus may have contractual entitlement to sick pay on top of the SSP. This matter is regulated by the provisions in the employment contract. You may also have a sick pay policy in place regulating the extra pay. Nothing will prevent you from making one-off, ex gratia payments to staff as long these extra payments are not discriminatory or arbitrary in nature.

If you want to introduce sick pay in addition to SSP, it is advisable to do so as variation to the employment contract signed by your employee, especially if you want to stipulate any conditions when you may be entitled to claw the sick pay back, for example if your employee leaves your employ within a certain period of time.

If you wish to make some extra payments to help your staff cope, but on the condition that the sums advanced will be then paid back in the course of employment, then it is really a loan and should be offered as a loan, and should comply with the applicable FCA requirements.

Can I make my employee go home and stay in? What pay is due then?
If your employee falls into one of the categories for self-isolation mentioned above, your employee is deemed as incapacitated and unfit for work. You should insist that the employee follows the official guidance and goes into self-isolation. The SSP and any additional sick pay will be due.

If your employee is not in a category where self-isolation is advised, not ill and you prefer your employee to stay away from work as a purely precautionary measure, then the employee may be suspended on full pay. As an extreme rarity, the employment contract may stipulate a specific obligation of the employer to provide work, in which case the employer cannot require the employee to stay at home. In some, but rare, cases the contract will provide a right for the employer to suspend without pay.

What if my employee refuses to come to work anxious about becoming infected?
There is no general entitlement not to come to work for someone who is not ill and is not deemed to be incapacitated as above but does not want to come to work for fear of being exposed to the coronavirus.

There is no advice at present to shut down workplaces, even after a contact with a confirmed coronavirus case.

Having said that, the employer has a duty of care towards its employees to protect their health and well-being. This includes following the current advice on protecting the workplace against the coronavirus infection.

The employer, for example, will be expected to make available facilities for the staff to wash hands regularly, to sanitise work surfaces, to insist that members of staff showing the symptoms of coronavirus go into self-isolation as stated above. The Government is not currently of the view that face masks should be worn by healthy individuals as protection.

It may be helpful to have a consultation meeting with the employee concerned about catching the infection at work to allay the anxiety and perhaps to offer some adjustments. The Government has announced that working from home should be considered where possible. Flexible working should also be considered. Changes of start and finish times may be helpful so that the staff do not have to travel to work at peak times.

A specific situation will arise if someone has a chronic anxiety disorder, which is aggravated by the coronavirus epidemic. The chronic mental health condition is likely to be classed as a disability, and allowing the employee to take some time off or to implement, or at the very least consider and consult with the employee about, any adjustments which may be helpful in reducing the anxiety is the employer’s duty.

If your employee does not have any anxiety-related disability, and refuses to come to work acting unreasonably, this should be dealt with as unauthorised absence and disciplinary matter.

What about childcare arrangements? Do I have to allow my employees to stay at home and look after their children if they fall ill?
Currently there is no specific provision in place to address the need to take time off to look after a child if the childcare is disrupted or suddenly becomes necessary, for example, when a school is closed due to a coronavirus contact.

The Prime Minister announced on 16 March 2020, that anyone in contact with someone experiencing the symptoms of the coronavirus infection, including children, will be required to self-isolate for 14 days. This has not yet been published as the official advice but when it is published it is expected that the parents and family members in contact with a child showing the coronavirus infection symptoms will be deemed as incapacitated for 14 days and so entitled to the SSP.

The general statutory entitlement to take time off unpaid to look after children and other dependants remains in place. Your employee is entitled to take reasonable time off to provide assistance if a dependant falls ill, to make care arrangements for the provision of care for a dependant who is ill, to deal with the unexpected disruption, termination or breakdown of arrangements for the care of a dependant, and specifically to deal with an unexpected incident which involves the employee’s child during school (or another educational establishment’s) hours. The assistance to the dependant cannot go beyond the reasonable amount necessary to enable the employee to deal with the immediate crisis. However, the coronavirus epidemic is an unprecedented event, and arguably unexpected, and the employers should exercise discretion as to the length of the time off allowed. The statutory provision certainly does not cover looking after a child until the worst of the epidemic is over, but in a crisis situation when the school is suddenly in quarantine, allowing an employee a week off or so to look after the child and to make arrangements for the childcare would appear reasonable.

Use of annual leave, parental leave if your employee is entitled, working from home and flexible working should all be considered to accommodate the childcare requirements.

To view the government guidance on self-isolating, please CLICK HERE.

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COVID-19: Advice to employers from Lawgistics regarding redundancies and layoffs

Lawgistics have developed some FAQs for businesses considering redundancies.

Because of the coronavirus situation, can I make my staff redundant?
If you are in the regrettable position intending to close your business because of the coronavirus, this is certainly a redundancy situation. Even if you intend to re-open the business once the situation improves, this remains a redundancy case, especially so given the expected length of the coronavirus disruptions.

If you are closing a part of your business or some of your offices, then you are making redundant jobs in those offices or in that part of your business.

If you are responding to a drop in your customer orders and need to reduce your staff for that reason, it is also a redundancy situation. It will also be a redundancy if you are reasonably anticipating that you will not require so many employees in the near future and will have to introduce cuts.

Remember that in any situation you are making redundant the job roles, not the individual people. This means that all employees performing particular job roles will have to be put in a redundancy pool if you making some but not all of them redundant, and the individuals will have to be selected for redundancy based on the objective and reasonable selection criteria you will have to apply. The selection pool obviously will not be required if you have just one individual performing a particular job, say one manager, or you are closing down your business.

Assuming that the redundancy is not large scale, that is fewer than 20 employees will lose their jobs within 90 days, the essential procedure is:

  • consult with employees
  • select employees for redundancy
  • give notice
  • work out redundancy pay

The employer is expected to explore all options to avert the redundancies, and to continue to do so at every step of the redundancy process. ACAS emphasises this requirement in its guide, which can be accessed online: http://www.acas.org.uk/smallredundancies

Avoiding the redundancies is also the main point of the consultation process. The employer is required to look into any alternatives. Admittedly such alternatives will be extremely limited in the current situation, but the present crisis will very unlikely be an excuse acceptable to the Employment Tribunal for flouting the consultation requirement. The employer is also expected to encourage all staff whose jobs are identified as at risk of redundancy to put forward any proposals they may have for saving the jobs. The consultation is also to keep the employees at risk informed and supported throughout the redundancy process.

Redundancy may be an expensive option. Employees with two years of service or more will be entitled to the statutory redundancy pay as follows:

  • 1/2 week’s pay for each full year of service for employees under 22 years of age;
  • 1 week’s pay for each full year you for employees 22 or older, but under 41;
  • 1 and 1/2 week’s pay for each full year for employees 41 or older.

    Length of service is capped at 20 years. The weekly pay is currently capped at £525 and the maximum statutory redundancy pay is currently £15,750. Your employment contract or policies may specify a higher redundancy pay. Redundancy pay under £30,000 is not taxable.

In the current situation timing is crucial. Employers may have to streamline some of the process. Lawgistics can advise IAAF members on the risks involved and guide you through the procedure.

Can I lay off my staff temporarily or cut their hours?
To lay off your employees temporarily without pay or to cut their hours of work, there should be a specific clause in the employment contract.

Lay Off and Short-Term Working
‘The company reserves the right to lay you off or put you on short time working where this is necessary to meet the needs of the business, for example, if there is a temporary downturn in work. There will be no entitlement for you to be paid by the company for any days not worked during a lay-off or short time working period but you may qualify for guarantee pay at the relevant statutory rate. Your continuity of employment will not be affected by a lay-off or short time working.’

If your employment contracts do not contain a clause allowing lay-offs or cuts in hours of work, the contract may be varied by agreement, in writing is highly advisable, so that the suggested clause becomes part of the contract.

If you put your employee on notice of variation and the employee is delaying with returning the signed document but continues working nevertheless, the variation may be deemed as accepted.

The laid off employee may be entitled to the statutory guarantee payment, if this employee has been employed continuously for 1 month, remains available for work, does not refuse any reasonable alternative work and has not been laid off because of an industrial action. The maximum guarantee pay is £29 a day for 5 days in any 3 months’ period, making the maximum of £145.

If an employee has been laid off or kept on short-time for 4 or more consecutive weeks or has been laid off or kept on short-time for a total of 6 or more weeks in a period of 6 weeks, this employee may be entitled to claim redundancy pay provided a notice of intention to claim is served on the employer in the manner prescribed by the regulations.

Are there any alternatives to redundancies or lay-offs?
By agreement, which should be in writing, your staff may agree to accept a pay cut or take an extended leave, unpaid or with some pay.

If your employee is opposing what is suggested, it is likely to be deemed that employment has been terminated with redeployment on the offered terms. The deemed dismissal will be subject to the test of reasonableness, if the employee can bring a claim to the Employment Tribunal. The employer may claim ‘some other substantial reason’ as the reason for dismissal. Each situation will be fact sensitive.

In the redundancy process, voluntary redundancies should be offered.

Your employee may be entitled to take unpaid parental leave and may agree to take it. The entitlement is to 18 weeks’ leave for each child and adopted child, up to their 18th birthday. The limit on how much parental leave each parent can take in a year is 4 weeks for each child, unless agreed otherwise, and the leave is to be taken in weeks.

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BER 2023: Preparatory survey

Ahead of the discussions on the Block Exemption Regulation which is due for renewal in 2023, Ernst & Young have been chosen to undertake a study into the historical market trends in vehicle distribution and aftersales in Europe and are collecting data from various companies active in the marketplace, including companies in the UK. EY will be collecting and analysing data on different vehicle categories (passenger cars, light commercial vehicles, trucks and buses) covering the period 2007-17.

The IAAF would very much appreciate it if you could advise if your company has been sent one of these questionnaires. It is hoped that guidance and “template” answers will be available by the end of next week to assist with the completion of the questionnaire.

If you have any questions, please contact the IAAF office on [email protected].

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OESAA postpones Autoinform Live

The Original Equipment Suppliers Aftermarket Association (OESAA) has announced that next month’s Autoinform Live, due to be held at the GTG Academy in Wolverhampton from 25-26 April, has been postponed due to escalating restrictions as a result of the Novel Coronavirus pandemic.

OESAA chairman, Nigel Morgan, said: “We have taken the regrettable decision to postpone Autoinform Live due to circumstances beyond our control.

“Many trainers have been forced to withdraw from the event due to company-imposed restrictions, and we feel compelled to help limit industry exposure to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Obviously this decision was not made lightly and is deeply disappointing to everyone at OESAA, as well as our associates, who have all worked so hard on the event up to this point.

“All those who purchased tickets have already been refunded, and we hope that they will again sign up to attend a rearranged event at the same time next year.

“OESAA remains committed to delivering the industry’s most educational and informative training events, so we are hoping that Autoinform Ireland, due to take place on September 26-27 at the NSC in Dublin, will not be affected.

“We hope that, by then, we will all be able to get together for what promises to be another fantastic weekend.”

DENSO Europe Pan European Strategic Marketing Manager, Fatiha Laauich, said: “Naturally, I am sad that Autoinform Live in Wolverhampton will not be going ahead this year; however, staff and visitors’ health and well-being are the priority and this decision is a reflection of that.”

Hella Gutmann Solutions (HGS) had been due to host seminars around ADAS (advanced driver assist systems) and the company’s camera and radar calibration tools. Head of HGS, Neil Hilton, said: “While it’s a shame that this event has been cancelled, in the current climate it’s been a necessary decision from the organisers. We hope that this event will be rescheduled; however in the meantime, we all need to keep safe and healthy and try to stop the spread of COVID-19 as much as we can, both individually and collectively.”

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