From dentist bills to holidays: Your key coronavirus questions answered

Can my employer force me to take holiday now? Will I still have to pay for a holiday abroad even though I can’t travel? And why am I continuing to pay my dentist every month when they’re shut? 

These are just some of the issues readers have raised in recent days as the country remains in lockdown. 

Sarah Bridge talks to the experts to get the answers.

Show-stopper: Concerts are being cancelled – including one by Andre Rieu, above – due to the coronavirus

Show-stopper: Concerts are being cancelled – including one by Andre Rieu, above – due to the coronavirus

TIME OFF… AND THE FURLOUGH ISSUE

James Morris writes: ‘My boss has told me I have to take my eight outstanding days holiday in the next four weeks. Can my company force this on me and my colleagues?’

Catherine Kerr, partner and head of employment at law firm Primas, replies: ‘Employers have a right to ask employees to take holiday as long as they provide correct notice, which is double the notice of the holiday period. In your case, your employer should have given you 16 days’ notice of its intention for you to take eight days’ holiday. 

‘Whether or not it is reasonable for an employer to ask employees to take holidays during this crisis remains to be seen as the Government’s guidance is silent on this point.’

Richard Wilson writes: ‘My son has a small building business. He has work which can be carried out using all the safeguards advised. Some of the employees want to be furloughed and are refusing to work on site. We can’t afford to furlough them. 

‘Is it ok to lay them off without pay? Or do we terminate their contract seeing that they are refusing to work on site – or are we likely to be taken to court for constructive dismissal?’

Kerr replies: ‘If there is work to be done and it can be done safely and in line with Government guidance, your employees cannot be furloughed as there is work for them to do and you can ask them to do it. You can choose to furlough some employees you don’t need – it doesn’t cost the employer anything.

‘If you decide to terminate their employment on the basis that they are refusing to work, you would need to engage them in a fair and reasonable dismissal process to try to reduce the risk of an unfair dismissal claim via the employment tribunal. 

‘However, only employees that have worked for you for a continuous period of two years or more can claim unfair dismissal.’

I’M STILL PAYING FOR DENTAL TREATMENT

Keith Kiely writes: ‘I pay £81 per month via direct debit for dental treatment to Denplan. My dentist is now closed to patients. My dentist has offered to reduce my payment to a lower treatment plan, even though she is no longer treating patients. 

‘During this current situation with limited finances, I feel my monthly payments would be better used helping my family rather than enabling my dentist to continue to earn an income.’

Dentist costs: Patients with a monthly plan with Denplan can suspend cover

Dentist costs:

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