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Easing of Restrictions but abandonment of the workplace!

29 APRIL 2021

Despite talk of continuing steps towards a return to normal life, it would appear that the government envisages home working until at least 4th September. The Law and Guidance Previously, under the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No. 3) and (All Tiers) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 no person was to leave or be outside of their home without a reasonable excuse. A "reasonable excuse" included where it is reasonably necessary for a person to leave or be outside of their home for the purposes of work or to provide voluntary or charitable services, where it is not reasonably possible for them to work, or to provide those services, from home (Schedule 3A, Part 1, paragraph 5(a), All Tiers Regulations, as amended). Therefore, the obligation was on employees to work from home if they could. Whilst the above provisions have now been excised from The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Steps) (England) Regulations 2021 (S.I. 2021/364) the current guidance is that employees should work from home where they can, and employers should facilitate this by providing suitable IT and equipment where possible. Where full homeworking is not possible, employers are encouraged to adopt a mix of home working and office-based working. You would like employees to return to work but some or all are refusing? The first step is to understand the reasons why an employee is refusing to return to work. You will need to address their concerns and consider any health and safety issues they raise. Dismissing an employee who raises such concerns without addressing them is likely to be automatically unfair under Section 100 of the Employments Rights Act 1996 and there would be no requirement for an employee to have 2 years’ continuous service to bring this claim. What can you do? The pandemic has affected everyone in one way or another and therefore it would usually be advisable to take a flexible approach. Options would include the following: Offer flexible working hours with a mixture of home working, where possible. Offer car parking arrangements for employees who are worried about taking public transport or offer working hours which avoid peak travel times. Consider redeployment in a role where homeworking is suitable. If the employee still refuses to attend work and you wish to look at possible disciplinary action, we advise that you get in touch with our Employment Team for an initial consultation to minimise the risk of having to defend a claim for automatic dismissal or discrimination. Have you got the right policies in place? Get in touch with our Employment Team who can help you draft or update: - Staff Handbook Homeworking Policy Workplace Safety Policy Testing Policy Vaccination Policy Lone working Policy

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Why you're never too young to make a Will

10 FEBRUARY 2021

Many young people think that making a Will is something only older people do. Whilst they may know that reaching their 18th birthday legally qualifies them to get a tattoo in the UK, only a handful are aware that it is also the legal age for making a Will. Both options will last a lifetime, but while you may live to regret one, you will never regret the other. So why should you make a Will when you are young? No automatic rights of inheritance for unmarried partners Many young people live together without being married or in a civil partnership. Some will have children. If one party to the couple dies without leaving a Will, the other will not automatically inherit. Not having a Will means that the State will determine what happens to your possessions after you are gone, who will inherit them and who will be responsible for administering your estate. Without a Will, you have no say in who those people might be, and they might not necessarily be the ones you would choose. Making a Will can help you tie up any loose ends and provide security for a partner if, for example, you live in a rented property and only one of you is named on the Tenancy Agreement. Find out more about what happens if you die without a Will in our article here. Protecting what matters most to you With the vast array of material goods available and their relative affordability, young people own more material possessions than ever before from computers to gym equipment. If you don't think you own anything worth leaving, consider personal assets such as photographs, anything passed down to you through the family or items special to you from childhood or that you collected during your lifetime? There is no greater gift to leave a partner, friend or child than something that held sentimental value to you. Digital posessions In this media and computer age, it is also important to consider what might happen to property stored on the Internet. Who will inherit your music collection or your photographs posted on Instagram? Who would you want to take care of your social media and email accounts? Are these things to just disappear or might someone else treasure or benefit from them?  Avoiding disputes after you’re gone Sadly, the loss of a loved one can cause disputes between even the closest families, particularly in the absence of a Will.  Clear instructions can help to minimise disagreements over who is to inherit what. So, rather than viewing making a Will as a dark act to be avoided, you might want to consider it as something you do to make life after you are gone easier for the ones you love and ensure that children and partners are provided for. There are important legal requirements to observe when making a Will. If it is not signed or witnessed correctly, it will not be valid. It will also establish who is to deal with the administration of your estate, who is to inherit and it also allows you, if you wish to do so, to make specific last requests. Documenting unusual requests There have been some unusual and quirky bequests made in Wills. Dogs have inherited millions of dollars. One group of friends was delightfully surprised by a legacy that specifically instructed them to blow it all on an alcohol-fuelled weekend in Europe. Shakespeare was in on it too: he left his “second best bed” to his wife while one man, who either didn't have any family or friends (or maybe didn't like them), randomly selected 70 strangers from the Lisbon telephone directory to inherit his wealth. Whilst we are not suggesting a Will should be used flippantly, its main purpose is to carry out your last wishes, and these can be the out of the ordinary as well as the practical. Leave your legacy Making a Will is not all doom and gloom. It can pass on your sense of humour and leave one last legacy – a smile on the faces of those you loved and who shared your life. It is something you might only have to do once (unless circumstances change, such as getting married in which case it is important to update your Will), so there really is no better time to make a Will than when you are young. Contact our Specialist Wills Solicitors in London, Surrey and Middlesex If you would like to discuss making a Will, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our Wills and Probate Solicitors. We provide a comprehensive service including advice when writing and updating your Will., support while dealing with a loved one’s estate (with or without a Will) and contentious probate guidance and representation. Our friendly staff are ready to help – contact us using our online enquiry form or call us directly on one of our office numbers.

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We are relocating our Chiswick Office

13 JANUARY 2021

The Chiswick office of Owen White & Catlin would like to share our exciting news. We are relocating to our modern, contemporary premises at Sovereign House, 3rd Floor, King Street, London W6 9NA on Friday 22nd January 2021 (a short walk from our existing office). This move will allow us to provide a more comprehensive legal service to our clients. We will continue to offer bespoke advice for Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorneys, Probate, Residential and Commercial Conveyancing but with a larger team of solicitors and a greater pool of expertise. We will in addition provide specialist advice in Wills and Probate Disputes, Professional Negligence and Disputed Asset Claims.  Our telephone numbers and email addresses will remain the same.  Whilst the lockdown continues we will be working from the office and available to our clients by telephone, email and virtual meetings.  We look forward to welcoming you to our new office after lockdown. 

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