Latest government Covid measures re-introduce work from home message

Covid continues to climb

As Covid-19 cases continue to climb, the UK faces ever tougher restrictions. But, with the furlough scheme winding down, what rights do employers and employees have when returning to work?

During his address in parliament on 22nd September, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlined several new measures as a way to help curb infection rates. Some of these measures included mandatory wearing of face coverings for more people, limiting hours at social venues and advising office staff to work from home over the winter if they could do so effectively. They also increased the fines for those who broke the rules.

Fines will also apply if the test and trace service contacts anyone who then refuses to self-isolate. Until now, the advice to self-isolate has been given as guidance only, but now it will become law. It means any employers who force employees back to work before that self-isolation period has ended could be subject to a large fine.

Employees who have had a positive test or are required to self-isolate under the guidance will be entitled to SSP. The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme reimburses eligible employers for up to two weeks from the first day of sickness.

The government has outlined new measures to include one-off payments of £500 to support those employees that are required to self-isolate and are on low incomes, so that people are not affected as much by taking the time off work.

In addition, as the government faces pressure to do something to help prop up the wages and support businesses in crisis, as the furlough is due to come to an end, it has been hinted by the press that the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, is considering options.

There is speculation that there could be a subsidy available for employers who offer their staff at least 50% of their normal hours. For non-working hours, the wage bill could be shared between the company, the Treasury and the employee – and similar schemes are already operating across Europe successfully. Watch this space as we will share more on this as we hear the detail.

We will be keeping a close eye on all Government updates as it develops. In the meantime, if you have any questions relating to your own employment, or you are an employer seeking advice about your staff, contact Downs Solicitors to see how we can help.