As of Thursday 5th November 2020, all of us in England will enter the second period of national lockdown. Currently, this is expected to last 4 weeks ending on 2nd December 2020, although by now we must all appreciate that this may yet still change.
Alongside this announcement, the government confirmed the extension of the existing Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), also known as ‘furlough’. This had been due to end on 31 October but has been extended for one month. Interestingly, the extension not only means businesses can continue the scheme where needed but the contribution amount has also increased to the earlier amount of 80% of an employees’ wages.
As previously, there are a few crucial points which businesses need to be aware of such as:
- Following the right HR process;
- Identifying who can go on furlough;
- Updating contracts or putting a written agreement into place for affected staff;
- Claiming the 80% wages from the government.
Unlike the first lockdown, the government has stated that those who cannot work from home can continue to work (subject to the forced closures of certain businesses such as bars, restaurants, non-essential shops and the like). For those continuing to work on site, businesses will need to be extra vigilant to ensure they keep their premises as safe as possible for all staff. A review of the health & safety assessment should be undertaken to ensure businesses do not face potential claims from employees or indeed fines.
For those with employees working from home, a robust work-from-home policy should already be in place. However, if this has not been reviewed recently it is important to consider areas such as GDPR compliance when staff are working from home, the use and monitoring of equipment, relevant insurance and clear guidelines for all as to the practicalities for home-working.
For any assistance on these matters, please contact our Head of Employment, Ilinca Mardarescu.