On 31 October 2020 the government announced a second lockdown from 5 November 2020 until 2 December 2020 but with some key differences from the first lockdown, (schools will remain open for example).
The government will be taking the following action;
- Requiring people to stay at home, except for specific purposes.
- Preventing gathering with people you do not live with, except for specific purposes.
- Closing certain businesses and venues.
Working from Home
With regards to going to work the government have said;
“To help contain the virus, everyone who can work effectively from home must do so. Where people cannot do so (for instance people who work in critical national infrastructure, construction or manufacturing) they should continue to travel to work/attend their workplace.”
Employers will need to consider whether their employees are able to work effectively from home and if not what are the reasons? This is the same wording the government published before this weekend’s announcement. It will be important that whatever decision is made that there is a discussion with the employees. Some employers are giving their employees a choice as there are mental health considerations to think about too.
The government have said that those who are over 60 or clinically vulnerable are not required to shield as before but should be especially careful to follow the rules and minimise contact with others and should continue to wash hands more frequently than usual.
For those who are classed as clinically extremely vulnerable, the government is advising them to work from home. If those employees are not able to work from home they are advised not to go to work and maybe eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) or Employment Support Allowance (ESA).
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme extended | Job Support Scheme postponed
The government also announced on 31 October 2020 that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) will be extended to December 2020 (no official exact date confirmed). The Job Support Scheme (JSS) will therefore be postponed.
The key points you need to know.
- This extended Job Retention Scheme will operate as the previous scheme did.
- Employers will pay employer NICs and pension contributions.
- As under the current CJRS, flexible furloughing will be allowed in addition to full-time furloughing.
- Employees must be on the employer’s PAYE payroll by 23:59 on 30 October 2020. This means that employees who have not been furloughed previously are able to be furloughed.
- For hours not worked by the employee, the government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500. This reverts back to the contribution levels in August. (Make sure you have an agreement in place with the employee).
The government will be confirming when claims can be made shortly. The guidance so far hasn’t referred to the Job Retention Bonus.
It is expected that there will be further updates and guidance as the week progresses. We will update you as soon as we know more information. We understand that this can be a confusing time and we are more than happy to have a chat to you about your particular circumstances. Get in touch!