Coronavirus (COVID-19) Support for Employers

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Support

Out team of employment law specialists provide advice and guidance to employers and employees who have been affected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis on the myriad of issues it has has created, including; furlough and flexible furlough pay, sick pay rights, discrimination, working safely, self-isolating and shielding, redundancy, unfair dismissal, sick pay and many other employment issues arising from the COVID-19 crisis.

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Latest Working From Home Guidance for Employers

In response to the COVID-19 Omicron variant and identification of several cases of the variant across the UK, the UK Government and devolved Administrations have revised their guidance and have advised people to be cautious and do everything they can to minimise the risk of spreading infection.

The primary message from Government was the accelerated roll out of the COVID-19 Booster Vaccine, new guidance on rapid flow testing before visiting family and friends, reducing household contacts and external socialising and in Scotland, the need to self-isolate regardless of vaccine status.

December 2021 and early January 2022 was full of COVID-19 changes and we outline below the latest updates across the United Kingdom.

Updated:  7 January 2022

Scotland

In Scotland, employers have been required to take reasonably practicable measures to minimise the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in their businesses from 17 December.

On 27 December further social distancing measures were introduced at hospitality premises including only allowing seated patrons to be served food and drink in licensed premises where alcohol is served. Those same regulations will limit attendance at indoor and outdoor public events, from 26 December.

On 6 January 2022, the requirement to self-isolate if a close contact was suspected or tested positive with Omicron cases was reduced from ten days to seven days, where someone receives two negative lateral flow test results on day six and day seven of the self-isolation period.  In addition, household contacts of people with the virus will now be allowed to take a lateral flow test every day for seven days rather than going into self-isolation.  Anyone identified as a close contact who is over 18 and four months old and not fully vaccinated will still be asked to self-isolate for 10 days and take a PCR test.

England

On 8 December 2021, the Prime Minister announced that the full Plan B response in England would be activated.

COVID passes are now required for entry to nightclubs and certain music and sports events and the requirement for members of the public to wear face coverings has been extended to further indoor settings. Guidance on safe and effective volunteering has also been updated to reflect the elevated number of cases.

To increase GP capacity to support the vaccine booster programme, the Statutory Sick Pay (Medical Evidence) Regulations 2021 temporarily extend the time before which an employer can ask for proof of sickness from seven days to 28 days.  On 14 December 2021, the requirement to self-isolate if a close contact was suspected or tested positive with Omicron was removed in England for fully-vaccinated people and, from 22 December, in an effort to alleviate staff shortages, the required self-isolation period for positive COVID-19 cases was reduced from ten days to seven days, where someone receives two negative lateral flow test results on day six and day seven of the self-isolation period.

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, ministers said that more people working from home would help to reduce the risk of infection both inside and outside the workplace. However, they didn't tell employers to impose home working, but instead asked them to support it "where possible".

In an effort to alleviate staff shortages, the required self-isolation period for positive COVID-19 cases was reduced from ten days to seven days, where someone receives two negative lateral flow test results on day six and day seven of the self-isolation period.

Wales

In Wales, a legal duty was placed on employees to work from home where reasonably practical to do so through regulations that also introduced a new offence for employees who contravene this requirement.

On 26 December, Wales moved from Alert Level 0 to Alert Level 2. This was accompanied by the reintroduction of social distancing and other restrictions on socialising

The COVID-19 pandemic and associated restrictions continue to present numerous and complex challenges for Employers and Employees alike.  If you are experiencing challenges and require specialist advice, Employment Law Services (ELS) can help.

Employment Law Services (ELS) provide employment law services and HR support to Employers and Employees. Click on the relevant button below to find out more about the employment law services we provide and how we can help you further.

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