News Update

Employment Alert – New COVID-19 restrictions

COVID-19 – Breaking News: ‘Home-working encouraged’

The Government yesterday announced a raft of new coronavirus restrictions for England.

Office/home working

Of particular interest to employers across all sectors, is the request for office workers to work from home, if possible. Earlier this month, the Government (supported by a publicity campaign) had of course encouraged employees to return to the office.

The Government have since provided the following updated detail:

  • ‘To help contain the virus, office workers who can work effectively from home should do so over the winter. Where an employer, in consultation with their employee, judges an employee can carry out their normal duties from home they should do so’.
  • ‘Anyone else who cannot work from home should go to their place of work. The risk of transmission can be substantially reduced if COVID-19 secure guidelines are followed closely. Extra consideration should be given to those people at higher risk.’

Furthermore, the Government have announced that ‘businesses and organisations will face stricter rules to make their premises COVID Secure (from 28 September)’:

  • A wider range of leisure and entertainment venues, services provided in community centres, and close contact services will be subject to the COVID-19 Secure requirements in law and fines of up to £10,000 for repeated breaches.
  • Employers must not knowingly require or encourage someone who is being required to self-isolate to come to work.
  • Businesses must remind people to wear face coverings where mandated.

Other 

Other measures, potentially affecting certain sector workplaces include that:

  • Businesses selling food or drink (including cafes, bars, pubs and restaurants), social clubs, casinos, bowling alleys, amusement arcades (and other indoor leisure centres or facilities), funfairs, theme parks, adventure parks and activities, and bingo halls, must be closed between 10pm and 5am from Thursday.
  • The planned return of spectators to sports venues will now not go ahead from 1 October.
  • Face coverings must be worn by hospitality and retail staff, taxi drivers and their passengers.
  • Customers in hospitality venues will also have to wear masks, except when seated at a table to eat or drink.

The Government’s full summary of changes can be found here.

The Government expects the measures to remain in place ‘until March’.

Job Retention/Bonus Scheme

By way of reminder, the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (JRS) is due to close on 31st October.  Current JRS payment contributions (which are subject to specific rules found here) are as follows:

  • For September the Government is paying 70% of wages up to a cap of £2,187.50 for the hours an employee is on furlough. Employers will pay employer NICs and pension contributions and top up employees’ wages to ensure they receive 80% of their wages up to a cap of £2,500, for time they are furloughed.
  • For October, the government will pay 60% of wages up to a cap of £1,875 for the hours the employee is on furlough. Employers will pay employer NICs and pension contributions and top up employees’ wages to ensure they receive 80% of their wages up to a cap of £2,500, for time they are furloughed.

As previously announced, the Government’s ‘Job Retention Bonus’ scheme will pay £1,000 per employee who has been brought back to work from furlough leave and is continuously employed through to 31 January 2021.  To qualify, the returning employee must be paid an average of £520 each month between 1st November 2020 and the end of 31 January 2021.

The Government is facing pressure from industry groups to replace the JRS, with more targeted schemes to continue support for payrolls/employment. As yet, no measures have been announced. We will send further updates, if that position changes.

The Employment team at Kerman & Co are assisting employers across all industries during this time, including in relation to furlough leave and workforce changes/planning. Please do call or email us, if you have any questions or require assistance.

This article is provided for general informational purposes only.  Although every effort has been made to ensure that information in this article is accurate, it does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such.  In case you require any legal advice, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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Key Contacts

Jonathan Bruck
Head of Employment
+44 20 7539 7305
Karin Kiho
Solicitor, Employment
+44 20 7539 7304
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