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Key details for employers: second national coronavirus lockdown for England and extension of the furlough scheme

November 2, 2020

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On Saturday 31 October in the evening, the UK Prime Minister announced a second national lockdown in England and an extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (“CJRS”).  The lockdown comes into force on Thursday 4 November 2020 and lasts until at least 2 December 2020.  Under the government’s current plans the CJRS will be extended until December 2020.

Key details of the changes

The key details of the changes to the extended CJRS that have so far been announced are as follows:

  • It is currently due to be extended until December 2020, presumably to coincide with the period of the national lockdown.
  • Employees will receive 80% of their current salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500. Employers will only have to bear the cost of National Insurance and employer pension contributions. This reflects the government’s more generous contribution when the scheme originally began to taper off.
  • To be eligible to participate in the CJRS, employees must have been on the payroll by 30 October 2020. This means a Real Time Information (RTI) submission notifying payment for that employee to HMRC must have been made on or before 30 October 2020.
  • Employees who participate in the extended CJRS do not need to have been furloughed before.
  • Employers need to report and claim for a minimum period of seven consecutive calendar days.
  • The Job Support Scheme, which was scheduled to come into force yesterday (1 November 2020), has been postponed until the CJRS ends.

Implications

Coronavirus: changes to UK Job Support Scheme – key details for employers

We previously reported on the establishment of the Job Support Scheme (“JSS”).  The Chancellor of the Exchequer has, today, made a further announcement setting out significant changes to the JSS .  These changes are primarily aimed at providing support to businesses in Tier 2 which are not legally required to shut their premises as part of further lockdown measures, but which are suffering a significant decline in revenue.  However, the changes go even further than this.

Key details of the changes

The key details of the changes to scheme, which will apply to all of the UK, are as follows:

  • The JSS will apply to all businesses in every alert level (i.e. Tiers 1, 2 and 3).
  • Employees only need to work at least 20% of their normally working hours and be paid by their employer for those hours (not at least 33% of their normal working hours as originally required when the JSS was first announced).
  • Under the initial JSS announcement, for the hours not worked, the government and the employer were each required to pay one third of an employee’s salary. Following today’s announcement, the employer contribution will be reduced to just 5%.
  • The government will provide up to 61.67% of wages for hours not worked, up to £1,541.75 per month (more than doubling the maximum payment of £697.92 under the previous rules when the JSS was first announced).

In addition, the government is increasing support for self-employed individuals and implementing a new grant scheme

UK HR Solutions: Changing terms and conditions

Welcome to the tenth and final post in our current series of hands-on guidance for UK HR professionals. In this series we’ve looked at common HR issues that you’ll encounter in the workplace and given you practical guidance on how to deal with them. Over the course of the series we’ve covered a variety of topics, such as how to handle grievances, disciplinaries, sickness absence, performance management and much more besides.

This week we look at changing terms and conditions.

Click here to read our guidance note on changing terms and conditions.

Coronavirus: UK targeted furlough scheme for the hospitality sector – key details for employers

Less than two weeks after the announcement of the Job Support Scheme (“JSS”) and with just over 3 weeks until the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (“CJRS”) ends, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has, today, made an announcement setting out the details of a targeted furlough scheme designed to support businesses that are legally required to shut their premises as part of further lockdown measures.

Although it has been labelled by the Chancellor of the Exchequer as an expansion of the JSS, it looks very much like an extension of the CJRS, albeit in a more limited and targeted form.

Key details of the local furlough scheme

The key details of the scheme, which will apply to all of the UK, are as follows:

  • It will apply to employees who are unable to work as a result of their employer being forced to shut its premises as part of local or national lockdown measures over the winter months. These are likely to be businesses in the  hospitality sector – particularly, bars; restaurants; pubs and clubs.
  • The government will pay two thirds of the salary of those employees who are furloughed under this expanded JSS, up to a maximum of £2,100 a month.
  • Employers will not be required to contribute towards wages, but will be required to make National Insurance contributions and pension contributions.
  • Employers will only be eligible to claim the government grant while they are subject to lockdown and employees must be off work for a minimum of seven

UK HR Solutions: Bullying and Harassment FAQs

Welcome to the next post in our weekly series of hands-on guidance for UK HR professionals. In this series we look at common HR issues that you’ll encounter in the workplace and give you practical guidance on how to deal with them. Over the course of the series we’re covering a variety of topics, such as how to handle grievances, disciplinaries, suspension, performance management and much more besides.

This week we continue our look at bullying and harassment with a set of FAQs that UK employers commonly ask.

Read our bullying and harassment FAQs >

UK HR Solutions: Addressing Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace

Welcome to the next post in our weekly series of hands-on guidance for UK HR professionals. In this series we look at common HR issues that you’ll encounter in the workplace and give you practical guidance on how to deal with them. Over the course of the series we’re covering a variety of topics, such as how to handle grievances, disciplinaries, performance management, sickness absence and much more besides.

This is the first of two weeks where we focus on bullying and harassment. This time we give a brief overview of taking steps to prevent bullying and harassment, and how to manage an incident if it arises.

Read our Addressing Bullying and Harassment note >

Coronavirus: UK Job Support Scheme – key details for employers

As we reported previously, on 12 May 2020 the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (“CJRS”) would be extended until 31 October 2020.  With just over 5 weeks until the CJRS ends, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has, today, made an announcement setting out the government’s package of measures designed to protect UK jobs through the winter.

Job Support Scheme

With effect from 1 November 2020, the new Job Support Scheme (“JSS”) will come into force.  The key details of the JSS are as follows:

  • It is designed to support the wages of employees who are in viable jobs, but on shorter working hours.
  • Employees must work at least 1/3 of their normal working hours and be paid by their employer for those hours.
  • For the hours not worked, the government and the employer will each pay one third of an employee’s salary.
  • The level of grant will be calculated based on an employee’s usual salary, capped at £697.92 per month.
  • All small and medium enterprises are eligible to participate in the JSS.
  • Larger businesses, whose turnover has fallen as a result of coronavirus, are also eligible to participate in the JSS, subject to complying with certain conditions, including restrictions on capital distributions to their shareholders.
  • The JSS is open to all employers, including those who have not participated in the CJRS.
  • The JSS will remain in force for 6 months from 1 November 2020.
  • Employers will not be permitted to issue notices

UK HR Solutions: Sickness Absence FAQs

Welcome to the next post in our weekly series of hands-on guidance for UK HR professionals. In this series we look at common HR issues that you’ll encounter in the workplace and give you practical guidance on how to deal with them. Over the course of the series we’re covering a variety of topics, such as how to handle grievances, disciplinaries, suspension, performance management and much more besides.

This week we continue our look at managing sickness absence with a set of FAQs that UK employers commonly ask.

Click here to read our sickness absence FAQs.

This article was co-written with Trainee Solicitor Peter Summerfield.

Coronavirus: new UK restrictions – implications for employers

Amidst rising numbers of infections, the UK government has, today, made an announcement in relation to new Coronavirus restrictions.

Key highlights of the new restrictions

  • employees who can work from home should do so;
  • restaurants, bars and pubs must operate a table service only and must close at 10pm each day from 24 September 2020;
  • retail and hospitality staff will be required to wear face coverings;
  • retail, leisure and hospitality businesses are now legally required to ensure that their premises are COVID secure;
  • conferences and sporting events will not re-open from the beginning of October, as previously planned; and
  • tighter penalties will be applied, including fines of up to £10,000 for businesses which break COVID rules.

The above restrictions are anticipated to continue in place for the next 6 months.

Implications for employers

  • Plans to bring employees back to the office will need to be reconsidered in light of this announcement.
  • Employers operating in the leisure and hospitality sector will need to be mindful of the need to make changes to working hours and shift patterns.
  • These restrictions, combined with the cessation of the furlough scheme at the end of October 2020, may mean that employers will need to consider whether redundancies are necessary.

BCLP has assembled a COVID-19 Employment & Labor taskforce to assist clients with employment law issues across various jurisdictions. You can contact the taskforce at: COVID-19HRLabour&EmploymentIssues@bclplaw.com. You can also view other thought leadership, guidance, and helpful information on our dedicated COVID-19

California Passes COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Law

On September 9, California Governor Newsom signed a bill that establishes COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave (“COVID-19 PSL”) for California workers generally not covered by the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”).

Important Dates

Employers are required to begin providing COVID-19 PSL by September 19.

Employers must also post a notice in their workplace by September 19.  If employees are not physically present in the workplace, the employer may disseminate the notice electronically.

Starting in the first pay period after September 9, employers must provide notice in a wage statement (or a separate writing provided on pay day) of an employee’s available COVID-19 PSL each pay period.

The requirement to provide COVID-19 PSL expires on December 31, 2020 or upon the expiration of any federal extension of the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act established by the FFCRA.

Covered Employers & Employees

California’s new law applies to private employers with 500 or more employees in the United States.  It also applies to any public or private entity that employs health care providers or emergency responders and that has elected to exclude such employees from emergency paid sick leave under the FFCRA.

Workers are entitled to COVID-19 PSL only if they are (1) employed by a covered employer AND (2) leave home to perform work for their employer.

Reasons for Leave

Employees are entitled to COVID-19 PSL when they are unable to work because they:

  • are subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related
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