Just how simple is returning back to work during COVID19

                                     How Simple is Back to Work during COVID9?

 

Following the Governments announcements, many businesses are now striving to return to some normality wherever they can, this involves many unanswered questions for Employers.

We have been inundated with messages, emails and calls from Employers who are confused, need help, guidance and support. Whilst we appreciate the full details were not available when the PM made his speech on Sunday, guidance has now been released along with a further update from the Chancellor in relation to the extension of the CJRS and furloughing of Employees until the end of October.

 

Below is our simple approach to how we see things as a snapshot for planning your return to work, you can read the full guidance or download here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19

 

What is “Our Plan to Rebuild” – The Strategy

In what is named “Our Plan to Rebuild: The UK Government’s COVID19 Recovery Strategy’” it confirms that workers should continue for the foreseeable future, to work from home rather than their normal physical workplace, and this should be wherever possible, we welcome this as home working is the safest option and we can see no change from what was in place before.

 

It further explains that by continuing to ensure that individuals work from home, it will help to reduce the number of social contacts across the UK and hopefully keep the transmission of COVID19 as low as possible.

 

It then states where individuals cannot work from home, they should travel to their workplace if it is open, and that sectors of the economy that are allowed to be open should be open for example construction, logistics, distribution, scientific research in laboratories and food production, with the exception being hospitality and non-essential retail, you can find the full list here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close

 

It is widely accepted that not all Employees and industries can work from home and with this in mind full and comprehensive guidance has been published, this covers every eventuality, we advise using a common-sense approach in all instances.

We have now seen the go ahead for businesses to open in the property sector, this includes Estate Agents, Letting Agents and Removals and in addition to this Garden Centres are also allowed to open.

 

What happens next

The comprehensive guidelines have now been published “COVID19 Secure Guidelines” and all businesses and workplaces should follow these, we have added the link above.

 

Government have advised that risk assessments need to be in place and Employees made aware of these and where you have over 50 Employees information should be made available on your website. We wholeheartedly recognise that you will require advice and support as you look to implement the Government’s guidelines.

It is imperative measures are taken prior to any return to work, you will need to consider adaptations to your workplace, and this will be dependent on the industry you work within.

 

 

What is happening with CJRS and Furloughing

The Chancellor announced the extension of the CJRS Scheme until the end of October, in addition to this the allowance of Part-Time working.

He also announced that Employers would need to contribute towards the costs although the details of this will not be announced until the end of May 2020, full details about the CJRS can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

In view of the announcement, where you intend to return Employees to work and can do so safely you would need to end the period of furloughing for your Employees, in this instance please contact us to discuss further to ensure the process is followed correctly and correspondence is sent to each individual.

Where you are planning any restructure involving redundancy we urge you to make contact with us as this can be a tricky area and one in which you are advised to seek professional assistance with.

 

What about those with Children 

As part of the Step 1 plan there are no plans to open any schools, this is planned in Step 2. Under the CJRS scheme an Employee with caring responsibilities can be furloughed and receive payments under the scheme.

This does not apply where you bring your Employee back to work as they would not be eligible under the CJRS.

  • Continue to work from home
  • Remain on furlough
  • You could offer Dependants leave, to allow a number of days to make provisions for care of their child. under legislation you do not need to pay but you would need to check T&C as this may state otherwise.
  • Unpaid leave
  • Untaken accrued holiday pay

 

A common-sense approach is always forefront and our view would be to think about Employees with caring responsibilities during this difficult time and we would encourage Employers not to force Employees back to work unduly.

 

Our free advice is always here for you

Please be assured we are working to keep you abreast of information but can only do so when we have the relevant facts that we can rely on, in the meantime please do not hesitate to contact us in the usual manner, our advice and guidance is free of charge.

 

Fran Crossland

Updated on 13 May 2020