14 July 2020
Law at Work - July 2020 – 5 of 5 Insights
On 9 July the Chancellor announced a raft of measures, designed to encourage continued employment and to provide incentives for businesses to retain staff. Further details will be published at the end of July but the key measures are:
On 25 June the Treasury published a new Direction on the flexible furlough rules that will apply under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme from 1 July 2020 until 31 October 2020 (when the scheme will close). The new rules provide for maximum flexibility between employer and employee on the working patterns that may be agreed. Although the wording of the Direction has led some commentators in the media to suggest that furlough costs will not be met where the employee concerned is eventually dismissed for redundancy, the consensus amongst lawyers seems to be that furlough costs will be recoverable provided the relevant criteria are met and there is no abuse of the scheme, even if a redundancy does occur in the end. Key points to note are that:
Just a reminder that shielding for the extremely clinically vulnerable will be paused in England after 31 July 2020. From 1 August 2020, the extremely clinically vulnerable will no longer be entitled to statutory sick pay (SSP) by virtue of shielding.
From 6 July, those who are self-isolating as a result of coming into contact with those in a bubble or linked household who have become ill with COVID-19 will be entitled for the first time to SSP. It is not currently clear what the evidential requirements will be in terms of employees being able to demonstrate that they are in a linked household.
The new social distancing guidance announced on 23 June, along with easing of lockdown, modified the two-metre rule. Essentially, people should socially distance at two metres or, where this is not possible, at one metre whilst taking mitigations to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. The "one metre plus mitigations" rule has been incorporated into the various workplace guidances that have been published. Employers should therefore revisit any health and safety risk assessments which have already been carried out to reflect the revised guidance. It is important to remember that despite easing of lockdown, the government's guidance remains clear that where possible, people should work from home.
by Vikki Wiberg