You will no doubt be aware that the UK Government has announced that from 5th November 2020 until 2nd December 2020 further restrictions will be implemented to control the spread of Coronavirus. These new controls are likely to have a significant impact on our lives for the coming weeks and we will attempt to summarise the key points for businesses in this post.
All persons who can work effectively from home must now do so. In his announcement, the Prime Minister specifically mentioned Construction and Manufacturing as two sectors where, for some roles, working from home is not practicable and that he wanted such sectors to continue to operate. For companies that cannot work from home effectively, maintaining a ‘COVID Secure’ workplace (see our previous update here: https://www.proaktive.co.uk/blog/making-your-office-covid-secure/) is essential. The HSE are actively checking workplaces, and we expect this to continue.
Travel for businesses may continue, however this should be limited to journeys that are essential. Any meetings that can be done remotely can and should be undertaken remotely. For those required to travel, we would recommend that an assessment be made on arrival to ensure that social distancing can be maintained, and that any additional measures are known and can be implemented, such as the wearing of facial coverings. If these cannot be assured, then the meeting should not continue.
Those persons who were previously classified as ‘Clinically Extremely Vulnerable’ should now work from home for this period. If the work undertaken by these persons is not possible at home, then they are advised not to go to work. For those who are unable to work from home the current Government advice suggests that people within this category may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) or Employment Support Allowance, however the full guidance is not being published until Monday 2nd of November. The Government have confirmed that they will write to everybody who is clinically extremely vulnerable to set out detailed advice while the new restrictions are in place. If you are concerned that any of your employees may fall within this group, then you should discuss this with them.
Those persons who were previously classified as ‘Clinically Vulnerable’ are still permitted to attend work where it is not possible for them to work from home. They must, however, be careful to follow all rules and minimise contact with others. They should also increase hygiene measures, such as handwashing, and companies must maintain frequent cleaning of areas that they may come into contact with in the workplace. We would strongly suggest that social distancing be enforced for this category of person.
Unfortunately, the Prime Minister has announced that some businesses must close completely for the duration of this period. These businesses are:
- All non-essential retail businesses including, but not limited to, clothing and electronics stores, vehicle showrooms, travel agents, betting shops, auction houses, tailors, car washes, tobacco and vape shops. Non-essential retail businesses that operate as delivery or click and collect can continue to operate.
- Indoor and outdoor leisure facilities such as bowling alleys, leisure centres, gyms, swimming pools, golf courses and driving ranges, dance studios, stables and riding centres, soft play areas, climbing walls and centres, archery and shooting ranges, water and theme parks.
- Entertainment venues such as theatres, concert halls, cinemas, museums and galleries, casinos, adult gaming centres and arcades, bingo halls, bowling alleys, concert halls, zoos and other animal attractions, botanical gardens.
- Personal care facilities such as hair, beauty and nail salons, tattoo parlours, spas, massage parlours, body and skin piercing services, non-medical acupuncture, and tanning salons.
Some businesses have restricted working practices enforced for this period. These are:
- Hospitality venues like restaurants, bars, and pubs. These businesses must close but can still provide takeaway and delivery services. Takeaway of alcohol will not be allowed.
- Hotels, hostels, and other accommodation. These businesses should only open for those who must travel for work purposes and for a limited number of other exemptions which will be set out in law over the coming days. Please note facilities within these establishments which are required to close such as soft play, gyms, swimming pools, must close. Weddings and civil partnership, including the receptions for these events, will not be permitted to take place. Although funerals are permitted, any reception following the ceremony is not permitted.
The government is making some exceptions to the restrictions above. These are made with the intention to maintain childcare and support groups. The exceptions are:
- Support groups that are essential to be delivered in person. These are permitted with up to 15 participants to provide mutual aid, therapy, or any other form of support. This includes support to victims of crime, people in drug and alcohol recovery, new parents and guardians, people with long-term illnesses, people facing issues relating to their sexuality or gender, and those who have suffered bereavement.
- Schools, nurseries, and universities can remain open. Controls to ensure a COVID Secure environment must be in place and must be adhered to. The HSE are actively engaged in monitoring these measures and we expect these to continue.
In order to facilitate the closing and restriction of businesses the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) – also known as the Furlough Scheme – has been extended until 1st December. The level of the grant will mirror levels available under the CJRS in August, so the Government will pay 80% of ‘normal’ wages up to a cap of £2,500 for any unworked hours under the flexible furlough scheme excluding Employer National Insurance Contributions (NICs) and pension contributions, which the Employer must pay. Under the current CJRS, flexible furloughing is allowed, in addition to full-time furloughing. Further details, including how to claim this extended support through an updated claims service, will be provided by the Government shortly. The Job Support Scheme which was due to be introduced from the 1st November will now be introduced following the end of the CJRS.
We appreciate that these are extremely trying times and that the restriction imposed may have a considerable impact to your organisation. Please be assured that our Insurance, Human Resources, and Health and Safety Consultants at ProAktive are all available to assist in any way possible. You can reach them on:
Doncaster 01302 341 344
Sheffield 0114 243 9914