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Covid-19

Coronavirus restrictions lifted

Posted on: July 22nd, 2021 by Ginny Hallam

Here are the key considerations for employers following the lifting of coronavirus restrictions.

Working from home – the government is now recommending a gradual return to the workplace over the summer (as opposed to the work from home message). If maintaining flexibility is part of your future, you’ll want to take a look at our latest update series.

Self-isolation – if an employee tests positive or is contacted by NHS Track and Trace as having been in contact with someone who has tested positive, they are still required to self-isolate. If an employee is ‘pinged’ by the NHS Covid-19 app, there is no legal obligation to self-isolate, however government guidance is that they should still do so.

Health and safety concerns – whilst there is no legal requirement for an employee ‘pinged’ by the NHS Covid-19 app to self-isolate, requiring them to attend work raises the risk of transmission to a colleague or customer. In this event, you’re open to potential claims of negligence and constructive dismissal if an employee resigns on the basis of an unsafe workplace. We recommend insisting an employee does not attend work in these circumstances.

Get in touch if you need further support in managing anything we’ve outlined above.

 

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (22 July 2021), but may be subject to change which may, or may not be notified to you. This update is not to be taken as advice and you should seek advice if anything contained within affects you or your business.

01 July change to furlough contributions

Posted on: June 15th, 2021 by Ginny Hallam

From 01 July, employers are required to contribute 10% of furloughed employees’ wages (along with NICs and pension contributions).

01 July – the government will contribute 70% of wages up to £2,187.50 and you will need to contribute the remaining 10% up to £312.50 when employees are furloughed (along with NICs and pension contributions).

01 August to 30 September – the government will contribute 60% of wages up to £1,875 and you will need to contribute the remaining 20% up to £625 when employees are furloughed (along with NICs and pension contributions).

Top up – you can decide to top up employees’ wages beyond the 80% total while furloughed.

Notice pay – don’t forget that you cannot use furlough to cover notice pay.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is due to end on 30 September 2021.

 

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (15 June 2021), but may be subject to change which may or may not be notified to you. This update is not to be taken as advice and you should seek advice if anything contained within affects you or your business.

New shielding guidance from 1 April 2021

Posted on: March 24th, 2021 by Ginny Hallam

From 1 April 2021, those classed as extremely clinically vulnerable (ECV) will no longer be advised to shield according to new government guidance. Here’s what you need to know:

Statutory Sick Pay – from 1 April those individuals who were classed as ECV will no longer be eligible for SSP (or Employment and Support Allowance) if they are not working.

Return to work – the government are still advising everyone to work from home where possible. If those classed as ECV cannot work from home, they should return to the workplace.

Communicate – if those classed as ECV are unable to work from home, they may still have concerns about returning to work. Communicate early and reassure them of the safety measures you have in place to keep them, colleagues, customers, and clients safe.

Flexibility – travel to and from the workplace may also be a concern if employees need to use public transport. Consider possible flexibility around start/finish times to support ECV employees to avoid peak rush hour times and any other adjustments you might reasonably make.

Get in touch if you’d like our advice or support in managing a safe return to work.

 

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (24 March 2021) but may be subject to change which may or may not be notified to you. This update is not to be taken as advice and you should seek advice if anything contained within affects you or your business.

New Tribunal case – dismissal for Covid-related concerns

Posted on: March 22nd, 2021 by Ginny Hallam

If an employee refuses to attend work due to Covid-related health and safety concerns, will a dismissal be automatically unfair? A recent Tribunal judgement has provided useful guidance.

Facts of the case

The employee refused to attend work due to Covid-related concerns, stating there was an imminent danger to his health and safety. He was dismissed and brought a claim for automatic unfair dismissal.

The Tribunal decided the dismissal was fair in the circumstances – the employee did not have a reasonable belief of serious danger in the workplace – simply that there was danger everywhere. Even if he did believe the danger was work-related that belief was unreasonable given the employer had put measures in place to reduce the risk of Covid transmission.

Here are a few takeaways:

Risk assessment – make sure yours is up to date to demonstrate you’re continually thinking about the risks employees face. There’s no expectation for you to eliminate risk entirely, but you do need to do everything reasonably practicable to minimise risks.

Clear policies – communicate the measures you’ve put in place and what’s expected of employees. Set out how employees can raise their concerns. Click here for how to access our safe return to work policy.

Communicate – ensure employees have access to your policies and procedures and communicate with regular reminders the steps you’re taking to keep everyone safe. Where employees do have concerns, listen proactively, keep a record, make adjustments where necessary, and reassure them that you’re taking all necessary steps.

If you need support with some of the challenges arising from welcoming employees back to work, get in touch to access our ‘safe return to work’ policy or further advice. 

 

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (22 March 2021), but may be subject to change which may or may not be notified to you. This update is not to be taken as advice and you should seek advice if anything contained within affects you or your business.

Coronavirus workplace testing

Posted on: March 11th, 2021 by Ginny Hallam

Lateral flow workplace testing kits are now available for free to all employers in England, irrespective of size. You’re not obliged to carry out workplace tests, but if you’re thinking about using them in your workplace here are a few things to consider:

Can I require employees to be tested –  unless you have the contractual right to do so (which is unlikely) you can’t insist that employees use the tests if they don’t have symptoms. If an employee has no justifiable reason for refusing a test, it may be possible for you to treat their actions as a refusal to follow a reasonable instruction enabling you to take disciplinary action, provided that you can show that workplace testing was necessary to protect the health and safety of colleagues. Always take advice before taking this route to avoid potential claims of discrimination or constructive dismissal.

Deadlines – you need to register (here) on the government website by 31 March 2021 to receive the testing kits. They’ll be free until 30 June 2021.

Data protection – before carrying out workplace testing, you need to explain to employees why you’re doing it, what data you’ll be collecting and who you will share this data with. The easiest way to do this is with a workplace testing policy and a data protection impact assessment. Click here for our support.

Practicalities – lateral flow tests don’t require a trained individual to administer and will give an onsite result in 20-30 minutes. They should identify employees who are infected with coronavirus even if they’re not showing symptoms. You can access specific government guidance here.

If you subscribe to Intelligent Employment, we’ve added a comprehensive coronavirus workplace testing guidance note to the document platform (under HR tools). If you don’t currently access Intelligent Employment, get in touch to find out more.

 

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (11 March 2021), but may be subject to change which may or may not be notified to you. This update is not to be taken as advice and you should seek advice if anything contained within affects you or your business.