Covid-19 Update: National Lockdown and The Work Place

National Lockdown


On 04 January 2021, the Prime Minister announced a national lockdown and instructed people to stay at home to control the virus, protect the NHS and save lives.

People are only allowed to leave their homes for the following reasons:

  • To shop for basic necessities, for themselves or a vulnerable person.

  • To go to work, or provide voluntary or charitable services, if they cannot reasonably do so from home.

  • To exercise with members of their household (or support bubble) or one other person, this should be limited to once per day, and no one should travel outside their local area.

  • To seek medical assistance or avoid injury, illness or risk of harm (including domestic abuse).

  • To attend education or childcare - for those eligible

Symptoms


Those that have any coronavirus symptoms:

  • High temperature

  • A new, continuous cough

  • Loss of, or change to, sense of smell or taste

Must Get a test and stay at home


The Work Place


To help contain the virus, everyone who can work effectively from home must do so. Where people cannot do so for example those who work in national infrastructure, construction or manufacturing should continue to go to work under management guidelines. This is essential to keeping the country operating and supporting vital sectors and employers.


We have been asked again to stay at home and work from home if we can, to minimise the spread of the virus and protect essential services.


If it is absolutely essential that an employee goes to the office to work, the following links from the HSE website must be adhered to:

If you need specific help regarding Health and Safety during this time, please contact the office at HR@HJShumanresources.co.uk and we will be able to recommend a health and safety professional to assist you.


Supporting Staff


Employers should be re-visiting how they are supporting their staff whilst working from home and actively encouraging healthy working practices.


Some top tips:

  • Make sure that your employees feel supported and can raise concerns.

  • Encourage flexible working hours if appropriate – it is significantly better to go for a run or walk in the sun at lunchtime than in the dark at 6pm (or not at all)

  • Re-establish good communication with your employees, arrange an online catch up every day and ensure colleagues keep up some form of communication via Skype or MS Teams.

  • Make sure your team are taking breaks, which are just as important when working at home.

  • Make sure that your managers are trained to recognise signs of stress in their teams.

  • Remind employees when it's time to switch off.


The CJRS or Furlough Scheme


All UK employers with employees on a PAYE scheme can benefit from the CJRS, otherwise known as the furlough scheme. The scheme has been extended until 30 April 2021 and the government will continue to contribute 80% of the salary of the employees unworked hours up to a cap of £2,500 per month until this date.


The scheme has been designed to offer employers government support and potentially protect their employees from redundancy.


Employers may place either some or all of their employees on the scheme. Employees may either stop working completely or work reduced hours (known as flexi furlough).

The CJRS grant can be claimed for the hours that employees are not working, the grants must be paid to the employee in full.


Employees eligible to be claimed for under this scheme must be on an employer’s PAYE payroll by 30th October 2020 and a Real Time Information (RTI) submission notifying HMRC that a payment has been made for that employee must have been made on or before 30th October 2020.


Furloughed employees should be kept on the payroll and paid 80% of their usual pay for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. Employers then pay for any worked hours as normal and pay the tax and NICs due on both worked and unworked hours as well as pension contributions.


Employers can claim the CJRS grant for a minimum period of seven consecutive calendar days and can top up their employee wages above the scheme grant at their own cost if they choose to, but they do not have to.


See may like to see our previous blog on the Job Retention Scheme. You can also follow the link below for full details of how to furlough your employees:

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


If you have any questions or concerns regarding the above information, please contact your dedicated HR Consultant or the office support team at HR@HJSsolutions.co.uk


Further Financial Support for Businesses


The Chancellor has announced one-off top up grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses worth up to £9,000 per property to help businesses through to the Spring.


The one-off top-ups will be granted to closed businesses as follows:

  • £4,000 for businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or under

  • £6,000 for businesses with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000

  • £9,000 for businesses with a rateable value of over £51,000

  • any business which is legally required to close, and which cannot operate effectively remotely, is eligible for a grant

  • business support is a devolved policy and therefore the responsibility of the devolved administrations, which will receive additional funding as a result of these announcements in the usual manner:

  • the Scottish Government will receive £375 million

  • the Welsh Government will receive £227 million

  • the Northern Ireland Executive will receive £127 million

  • this will contribute to the funding which has already been guaranteed by the UK Government, to continue to provide the devolved administrations the certainty they need to plan for their COVID-19 response in the months ahead

The above is in addition to previously announced financial support packages and further information can be found on the gov.uk website

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