England enters another period of lockdown today with other parts of the UK similarly affected. This will come as no surprise for many of us; as the new variant of the Coronavirus causes renewed alarm. It would appear that we are back where we started almost 12 months ago but this time round we have high hopes that the vaccination programme will bring things back under control over the coming months.
For the time being it is back to working from home for those who can. Large areas of the country were already subject to the Tier 4 arrangements which encouraged homeworking so changes for many businesses may not be too disruptive. The government are asking all employees to work from home unless it is ‘unreasonable’ for them to do so.
Employers should also be aware that:
- Employees who are ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ must work from home or not work at all. Those employees who are affected will be written to by the government and further advice can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19
- Employers may furlough employees who cannot work due to difficulties in looking after children, as schools will be closed to children of those who are not key workers
- Hospitality, leisure and retail businesses may be eligible for a one-off government grant of £9,000 to help keep them afloat
- Travel should only take place for ‘essential reasons’
- The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme which was recently extended until the end of April 2021, allows employer’s for furlough employees where there is a downturn in work.
For this lockdown, construction and manufacturing are expressly advised that they can stay open for business in order to support jobs and the economy. Also MOT services are allowed to continue operating which was not the case for the first full lockdown in the Spring of 2019; as are bicycle shops. Garden centres and builders merchants are also allowed to stay open this time around. Businesses who allow the public on to their premises should check the full list of those retailers and service providers who are exempt from the requirement to close which can be found here:https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-lockdown-stay-at-home#businesses-and-venues-which-can-remain-open.
If you require help in furloughing staff or any aspect of the latest lockdown rules for employers please do not hesitate to call me on 07788 994164 or email : email@example.com.