March 2021 Covid Updates

Let’s hope that all doggies and other pets bought during the lockdown/furlough period will still be looked after when their owners return to work.

Extension to Furlough

The government has announced an extension to the current furlough / CJR Scheme to the end of September 2021.  This extension must surely be the final one; and allows for employers to continue furloughing their employees for 3 months after the end of all lockdown restrictions which is planned for June 2021.  In order to avoid a surge in unemployment rates at the end of June 2021 the economy has 3 months to ‘bounce back’ and get any remaining furloughed employees back to work.  Employers will be expected to make a 10% contribution in July and a 20% contribution in August and September to the cost of each employee’s furlough pay.

Workplace Covid19 testing

Businesses of all sizes can now undertake lateral flow testing for their employees in order to test for Covid19.  There is a no longer a requirement for a minimum number of employees in order for employers to access the tests, which are available  from the government.

Lateral flow tests are not as accurate as the swab tests but they an improvement on no testing at all.  They are very quick, non-intrusive and simple to use.

These tests are available for free via the government’s website – see link below. You must register by 31 March 2021.

An employer can also pay to have tests administered privately.

The End of Shielding In England

Shielding comes to an end in England on 1 April 2021.    Dates for other countries which form part of the UK may differ.  Employees who are affected by shielding may either wish to work from home or if that is not possible, they will need to return to their place of work.

The government will be writing to vulnerable employees who have been shielding in the 2nd/3rd week of March 2021.  Those workers will have had their first Covid19 vaccination but are still advised to keep social contact to a minimum.  Any workplace must be Covid secure for any previously shielding employees now returning to work.  SSP is no longer payable from 1 April 2021 for those who were shielding.

Dismissal for Not Wearing a Mask

A case has come to the Employment Tribunal service from an employee who was dismissed by his employer for refusing to wear a mask at work. The incident which led to the dismissal took place on a client’s site.  The employer decided that he could not continue to employ the worker, on the basis that he would not comply to this workplace requirement despite being warned.

The judge ruled that this was a fair dismissal and took into account the fact that the employee did not show any remorse for his actions.  The employer followed a fair process in making this dismissal.

Each case bought before an Employment Tribunal is based on the particular facts of that case and may be subject to appeal by the employee.  Similar cases may lead to different outcomes in other courts which are part of the Tribunal system.  However it is useful for employers to know that in principle they may be able to make a fair dismissal where employees continue to flout rules over mask wearing.

hr human resources adviser advice support help consultant southampton hants winchester employment



Employers who wish to make any dismissal are welcome to call me for advice on 07788 994164.