You’ll be aware that the Government has announced new restrictions for England that are likely to be in place for 6 months. These include:
- Working from home wherever possible
- Pubs, bars and restaurants must close by 10pm (this means close, not call last orders)
- Table service only is allowed
- Face masks are compulsory for bar staff and non seated customers, shop workers and waiters
- Only 15 people will be allowed to attend weddings
- Sporting events are curtailed for now
- Fines for not wearing masks or following the rules increases to £200 for the first offence
Obviously for businesses in services industries, this has a big impact on how they work.
For other businesses, the need to be flexible and responsive to changes is becoming increasingly apparent. We would recommend that you conduct a risk assessment and recovery plan for this and future changes in your business. Do let us know if you need help.
Health and Safety
Additionally, this is going to place extra responsibility on employers to ensure health and safety risk assessments are carried out for home workers or those who have to work on site.
We would also recommend that you consider your employees’ wellbeing. Many people had thought and felt that things were getting back to normal and these changes may not be welcome, potentially impacting mental and physical health. We would recommend that you consider checking in on your employees, making clear what support is available and what the expecations are of them from a business perspective.
It may be worth considering making it clear that you will not be liable for any fines individuals incur for not following the rules during the course of their work and signposting them to the rules and sources of support to mitigate your vicarious liability.
Where people have booked time off on holiday, you may now receive requests to cancel or move holiday dates. As an employer, you don’t have to grant leave or cancel pre-booked leave, and you can require employees to take leave or cancel leave, subject to this being reasonable and with the correct notice periods (the same amount of notice as days required to be taken off if you are asking for leave to be taken or double the amount of days notice if you are cancelling leave). Unbelievably, it is October next week and we would recommend that you check that your employees are taking their leave entitlement to avoid issues at the end of the year.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced this afternoon that he is considering alternatives to the furlough scheme which is due to end on 31 October.
This includes a salary top-up scheme, whilst allowing employers to reduce employees hours (although it’s not clear how this will significantly differ to flexible furlough) We’ll update you as soon as we hear anything new.
At Agile, we have created an article that outlines the symptoms of Covid v a common cold or flu, do get in touch if you would like a copy.