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Coronavirus: UK Job Retention Scheme – what we know so far from the UK government’s 20 March 2020 announcement

Summary

As an update to our earlier blog “Coronavirus – UK job retention scheme”, we have analysed the Retention Scheme announced by the UK government on 20 March 2020, based on the information released so far.

 

Analysis of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (as at 20 March 2020) >

Coronavirus – UK job retention scheme

As an update to our earlier blog “Coronavirus – update on UK government measures in relation to employee absences and statutory sick pay”, set out below is a brief overview of the key measures that have, today, been announced by the UK government in relation to employees.

  • Employers will be provided with a grant to cover 80% of the salary (up to £2,500 per month) of employees who are not able to work, so that they can be furloughed, rather than dismissed. Employers can choose to top this up if they wish.
  • These grants will be backdated to 1 March 2020 and will be available for at least 3 months.
  • There will be no limit on the amount of funding under the scheme and the first grants are expected to be paid within weeks.
  • Additional measures have also been announced, including the business interruption scheme being interest-free for 12 months rather than 6 months, and VAT payments being deferred to the next quarter.

COVID-19 / Coronavirus: HR frequently asked questions in multiple jurisdictions

Summary

We understand that our clients and contacts will be addressing complex COVID-19 / Coronavirus related HR issues in multiple jurisdictions. BCLP, together with our local counsel friends, have produced a global Q&A document answering nine key HR issues, covering 35 jurisdictions.

Our global Q&A document answers FAQs about HR issues arising from Coronavirus / COVID-19 across 35 jurisdiction including the United Kingdom, United States, Bulgaria, Hong Kong, Germany, Italy, Republic of Ireland, South Africa and Ukraine.

Download the HR Q&A to read about issues affecting your country >

We have written advice covering the following questions:

  • What if an employee refuses to attend work due to fear of the coronavirus?
  • What if an employee refuses to undertake work travel to an ‘at risk’ area?
  • Can an employee be stopped from holidaying to an ‘at risk’ area?
  • If an employee is off sick due to the coronavirus are they entitled to sick pay?
  • What should we do if someone suffering from the coronavirus comes into the workplace?
  • What if the workplace needs to be closed?
  • Can an employee be required by their employer to ‘self-isolate’?
  • What physical measures should employers be taking?
  • How should employers deal with discriminatory behaviours?

If you have any questions that we have not covered, please contact any member of the team and we could be happy to help.

Coronavirus – Top 5 HR tips for UK employers

Summary

The outbreak of the coronavirus has created real challenges for businesses. From a people perspective, employers need to bear in mind both employment law and health and safety obligations.

Our top 5 HR tips are:

  • Restrict non-essential travel to high risk areas – for example, many UK employers at present operate a very restrictive policy on travel to mainland China, and strongly discourage non-essential travel to Asia in general.
  • Quarantine staff who have returned from specified infected zones for a period – for example, require staff to work remotely from home for a 14 day period following their return. If the nature of their role means they are unable to work remotely, the general principle is that employees who are ready and willing to work are entitled to continue to be paid. Note however that an employer’s obligations in this regard depend on the actual contractual employment terms in place.
  • Deal appropriately and sensitively with staff who refuse to come to work for fear of infection – employers should listen to concerns staff may have and look to resolve genuine issues constructively. Ultimately, however, employers are entitled to discipline staff who refuse to obey a reasonable management instruction to come to work.
  • Minimise disease transmission within the office – remind staff to maintain hygiene standards, and consider installing hygiene facilities such as hand sanitisers at exit and entry points and enhancing existing office cleaning services.
  • Deal with discriminatory behaviours – monitor complaints or grievances which could indicate discriminatory behaviour towards employees of Asian origin.
  • For more information

    Who is responsible for providing National Minimum Wage pay information in the context of a TUPE transfer?

    July 19, 2019

    Categories

    Employers are required, under the National Minimum Wage Act 1998 (“Act”), to maintain pay records and, if requested to do so, to produce such information to their workers.  A failure by an employer to comply with its obligation to produce pay information within 14 days of a request can result in an Employment Tribunal making a declaration and award against the employer of up to 80 times the national minimum wage rate.

    The Act expressly provides that in the event of a cessation of employment, the employee should seek such information from their former employer in respect of pay during that period of employment.

    In a recent decision, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (“EAT”) clarified that because an employee’s employment automatically transfers and does not terminate in the context of a TUPE transfer, where an employee TUPE transfers to a new employer (the transferee), it is that employer which has the obligation to provide pay records, not the employee’s former employer (the transferor).

    This decision highlights the need (particularly in the context of an outsourcing) for contractual obligations on a transferor to provide the transferee with all necessary information in relation to the transferring employees.

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