I am sure you were all glued to the PM statement yesterday evening which announced the start of a National lockdown commencing 5th November. In this update I look at what this really means for your business:
Extension of Furlough
The new Job Support Scheme will be put on hold and the furlough scheme will be extended for the lockdown period of November. If you had already issued the new JSS Agreements then these will just be placed on hold until needed.
For November only you will be able to claim the full 80% (To a max of £2500) through the Job Retention Scheme but you will have to pay the NI and pension contributions. This is an increase for November only from the rates of 60% in October where you were obliged to top up salaries to the 80%.
New agreements will not be needed for your employees as any previous furlough arrangements remain in force.
For businesses that remain open but may not be able to provide the full contracted hours, the flexible furlough scheme remain in force where you are able to now claim 80% of any unworked hours (maximum limits still apply).
Working from Home
The guidance encourages once again any business that can allow staff to work from home fully to do so during the lockdown period.
We have provided guidance on working from home arrangements, ensuring these have been dealt with almost as a permanent way of working even if your business may intend to return fully to being at your business premises. This includes ensuring you have a completed Working from home and DSE risk assessment from all employees that are home based, a home working policy to set out the basis of home working and the arrangements needed (such as cover on the employees home insurance, equipment needed, expenses etc..) If this is something you have not completed then please speak with us urgently to ensure you have sufficient arrangements.
Employees are permitted to travel and attend work where this is not possible but employers must continue to ensure the workplace remains Covid secure. You may want to revisit the Covid risk assessments you initially completed earlier I the year to take into account any changes to the arrangements. For example, if you have had employees that have tested positive you may have considered additional measure to help keep the transmission rate at work down.
What if I had employees who previously shielded?
Shielding is not being brough back into force during this period of lockdown as it was earlier this year, with the exception of those who are considered Extremely Clinically Vulnerable. The guidance states:
‘Over this period, we are advising the CEV to work from home. If you cannot work from home, you are advised not to go to work and may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) or Employment Support Allowance (ESA). You are encouraged to stay at home as much as possible, but are encouraged to go outside for exercise. The full new guidance will be published on Monday 2 November and the Government will write to everybody who is clinically extremely vulnerable to set out detailed advice while the new restrictions are in place.’
We have attached the current guidance updated yesterday until further instructions are received.
If you are approached by an employee who is requesting to shield and you are unsure whether their situation fits the current guidance, please contact us to discuss,
When should employees self-isolate?
If you have document updates as part of your service with us you have been provided with a Working Safely with Coronavirus policy and the guidance currently remains unchanged.
If you do not have this service and would like to discuss putting this policy in place to give guidance to your workforce on when they should be self isolating or what to do if they are in contact with someone who tests positive then please get in touch.
I have attached the general guidance issued following the PM statement which is worth reading to answer any queries you may get from your employees.
We are putting together a communication that you can issue to your employees as an update – if you would like to receive this please respond to this email and we will send you this which you can then tweak to suit your business.
If you are a current service contract customer of ours then we will write a bespoke communication for your teams if you need assistance, please contact your Consultant if you would like us to do this for you.
We will issue the additional guidance as it follows this week which will confirm the arrangements around shielding, claiming on the CJRS for furlough etc…
If you have any specific questions that you would like answered then the team will be ready and available to take calls tomorrow so please contact us.
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