Health and Safety Executive Publishes Revised Advice for Workplaces

On 31 March 2022, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) published revised advice to workplaces regarding COVID-19.  We take a look at the revised guidance and other steps employers can take to reduce the spread of respiratory infections in the workplace.

The revised advice follows the relaxation of COVID-19-related measures across the UK. The advice notes that COVID-19 will remain a public health issue and that guidance for workplaces is being replaced with public health advice.

For the public health principles for reducing the spread of respiratory infection in workplaces and Employers are encouraged to check the relevant position and timescales for the nation they are operating in:



Northern Ireland


General Advice for Employers

By way of general advice, employers should note the following:

  • The HSE no longer requires every business to consider COVID-19 in their risk assessments or to have specific COVID-19-related measures in place. There is, however, a requirement to protect those who will come into contact with COVID-19 due to their work activity (for example, if they are researching COVID-19 in laboratories). In these cases, employers must still complete a relevant risk assessment and implement control measures. There is currently a specific public health requirement for a COVID-19 risk assessment and reasonable measures applicable to employers in Wales, but this is not regulated by the HSE.
  • Employers must continue, as always, to comply with general health and safety law. Although the HSE will no longer require COVID-19 control measures, employers must continue to consult workers and their representatives on any changes they make that might affect health and safety.
  • Employers should continue to have regard to available guidance on protecting those who may be at higher risk from COVID-19 and on vaccinations, including advice from public health bodies and other government departments.

The advice is due to be reviewed by the HSE again on 30 April 2022.

By way of general advice on reducing the spread of respiratory infections, such as COVID-19 and flu, in the workplace, employers should consider the following:

  • In addition to recognising symptoms, employers may wish to consider how best to support and enable their workforce to follow the latest public health guidance.
  • To reduce the spread of infections, employers should maintain clean working environments, encourage and enable staff to get vaccinated and consider ventilation (see HSE guidance Ventilation in the workplace). There is no requirement to report workplace outbreaks of respiratory infections to local public health teams.
  • The requirement for every employer to explicitly consider COVID-19 in their health and safety risk assessment has been removed. Those who work with COVID-19, such as laboratories, must continue to do so. Otherwise, employers may choose to do so.
  • To control occupational health and safety risks, employers should continue to comply with the requirements for cleaning, ventilation and welfare facilities in the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 (SI 1992/3004) or, with regard to health and safety on construction sites, the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (SI 2015/51). Employers have a duty to consult with their employees, or their representatives, on health and safety matters.
  • Employers may wish to consider the needs of employees at greater risk from COVID-19, including those whose immune system means they are at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19.

Do You Need Assistance with an Employment Issue?

The specialist employment law team at Employment Law Services (ELS) LTD have extensive experience in advising UK Employers on their legal obligations to ensure compliance.  If you have any queries about your legal obligations you can call us on 0800 612 4772, Contact Us via our website or Book a Free Consultation online.

Regulations on Mandatory Vaccination in Care Homes Amended

On 6 January 2022 changes to the mandatory vaccination requirement that currently applies to care home workers in England under the Health and Social Care Act 2008 were implemented.

The Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) (No. 2) Regulations 2022 (SI 2022/15) were made on 6 January 2022 and implement changes to the mandatory vaccination requirement that currently applies to care home workers in England under the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014 (2014/2936) (the 2014 Regulations).

The following changes were made on 7 January 2022 under regulation 3:

  • Individuals who have not previously been employed or engaged in the care home can be deployed if they have received a single dose at least 21 days before starting work. They must then obtain a second dose within 10 weeks of the first.
  • There is now an exemption for those taking part in clinical trials.

On 1 April 2022, further amendments under regulation 4 will extend the mandatory vaccination requirement to those working in “any other regulated activity” outside a care home. Regulated activities are listed in Schedule 1 of the 2014 Regulations, and include nursing and personal care, and most forms of health care including medical treatment, surgery, diagnostic services, ambulance services, midwifery and dentistry among other things. The vaccination requirement will not apply where the person is under 18, is clinically exempt, has no face-to-face contact with service users, or where the regulated activity is part of a “shared lives agreement”. Similar exemptions will apply in relation to clinical trials and new employees who have only received one dose of vaccine.

Regulation 4 also makes provision for individuals who have received a course of certain COVID-19 vaccines not authorised for use in the UK.

Sources: The Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) (No. 2) Regulations 2022 (SI 2022/15) and the Explanatory Memorandum.

Latest Working From Home Guidance For UK 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.

COVID-19 Emergency Toolkit

Following the latest announcements on the government’s response to COVID-19 in the UK, we have updated our Coronavirus (COVID-19) Support page with the latest information and links to the government guidance.

Click here to get the latest working from home guidance for UK Employers

The situation with the OMICRON variant remains uncertain, so keep following us for updates.

Legal Implications on Returning to Offices as Lockdown Restrictions Ease

As lockdown restrictions continues to ease across the UK, we consider the legal implications for employers on workers returning to offices and the steps they should be taking to mitigate risks.

The Easing of Lockdown Restrictions

As Coronavirus continues to impact the day-to-day operations of businesses across the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that most Covid restrictions will be lifted across England on 19 July.

Restrictions in other parts of the UK have also started to ease and Mainland Scotland and the Scottish Islands not already in Level 0 look set to move Level 0 from 19 July, but the Scottish administration has made clear in its latest updated framework that it will continue to promote home working where possible.  It is important to note that Employment Law is reserved to the UK Government, so although the Scottish administration can give its recommendation to businesses it is extremely restricted in its ability to make financial and legal changes to support home working so it is unlikely that any compulsory changes will come into effect that mandate home working as Scotland moves into Level 0.

The details of precisely what restrictions remain in place can be found in the updated guidance published by each of the four nations:

Managing the Transition Back to Work

Many employers adversely impacted by the Covid restrictions will undoubtedly be relieved that they can reopen and those who have already reopened albeit on a restricted basis will also be relieved that they can now ramp up their operations, but employers must remember that the legal position and rights of employees being required to return to work remain the unchanged.

Employers will need to manage the transition carefully and not lose sight of the fact that the Covid pandemic may have also adversely affected the lives of many of their workers in a variety of different ways, so a cautious and consultative approach with workers and unions is recommended. 

The push to have workers return to their normal place of work could give rise to a variety of issues, including:

  • Flexible working requests
  • Grievances
  • Unfair dismissal claims
  • Health and safety and whistleblowing claims
  • Discrimination claims

The Legacy of Covid-19 Restrictions

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic a ‘new’ normal has emerged and the harsh reality is that after over a year of working from home and other flexible working arrangements being in place many businesses have continued to function, so many workers may be resistant to returning to workplaces and reverting to the “old” way of doing things.  

The key to avoiding issues is to plan well in advance and to consult with workers about these plans in order to address any questions or concerns they might have which may need to be addressed and actioned and to ensure unnecessary surprises are avoided.

The legacy of the Covid-19 pandemic and the myriad of challenges this has created for employers and workers alike is likely to be long-lasting and the benefits of having a robust and sustainable plan for the future cannot be understated.

Implications for Employers Due to the Delay in the Easing of Lockdown Restrictions

The long-awaited exit from lockdown has been delayed, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson warning a spike in cases of the Delta (Indian) variant could lead to a surge in hospitalisations.  

Emerging from Lockdown – Guidance for UK Employers

COVID-19 Restrictions Continue to Impact UK Businesses

On Monday 14 June 2021, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the full easing of all lockdown restrictions planned for 21 June 2021 in England has been potentially delayed by a period of 4 weeks, subject to a further review in 2 weeks’ time.

The devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland had previously announced an easing of restrictions which brought them closely in line with those restrictions set out at step 3 of the roadmap in England but considering the PM’s announcement on Monday it looks increasingly unlikely that any further easing of restrictions will be announced any time soon, or at least before the end of June. 

A Disjointed Four Nations Approach to Lockdown Restrictions

Since the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland decided to break lockstep with the UK government in favour of adopting their own approach to lockdown restrictions, many have been left confused and uncertain about what is or isn’t permissible.

In England, where a four-step roadmap out of lockdown is in place, more businesses were able to reopen when England moved to step 3, but the decision to delay the full easing of lockdown restrictions and remain at step 3 will create serious implications for employers who had hoped all COVID-19 restrictions would end on 21 June 2021 as originally planned.

Covid-19 Restrictions in England

In Scotland, where a five-tier protection system (0-4) is in place and which can be applied separately to each local authority area, more businesses were able to reopen from 5 June 2021 when many areas moved from level 3 to level 2 and from level 2 to level 1, subject to remaining social distancing restrictions, but soft play, nightclubs and adult entertainment venues must remain closed and many businesses in the tourism, hospitality and events sectors remain adversely affected.

Covid-19 Restrictions in Scotland

In Wales, where a four-level alert system is in place (1-4), some restrictions were eased from 7 June 2021 when Wales moved from level 2 to level 1.  Many more businesses were able to reopen, but skating rinks, nightclubs and adult entertainment venues must remain closed. 

Covid-19 Restrictions in Wales

In Northern Ireland there has also been a slight easing of restrictions and many businesses have been able to reopen, but the overriding message is that working from home where possible should remain the default position and that employers should take every step possible to facilitate home working.

Covid-19 Restrictions in Northern Ireland

The Delay on Easing Lockdown Restrictions – Implications for Employers

The Prime Minister’s announcement was in response to a notable rise in the R number across all regions of the UK and continuing concerns over the impact of the Delta (Indian) COVID-19 variant.

For those businesses with employees currently working from home, the default position across all regions of the UK is that employees who can work from home should continue to do so. 

There is no change to the guidance in respect of employees who cannot work from home – in these circumstances, employees continue to be permitted to work in their usual workplaces, and the working safely during coronavirus guidance continues to apply.

The delay in any further easing of lockdown restrictions is impacting all businesses, but those in the tourism, hospitality and events sectors appear to be affected most, not least due to continuing restrictions on how many people venues can safely accommodate with social distancing measures in place.

Practical Considerations for Employers

Many employers may also need to reassess their staffing requirements and quickly decide what this means for any recent job offers and current furlough arrangements and the cost implications of extending furlough beyond 1 July 2021 will need to be carefully considered.

Although the furlough scheme was previously extended until 30 September 2021, the level of grant available to employers will be reduced from 80% (up to a max. of £2,500):

  • From 1 July 2021 the grant available to employers reduces to 70% (up to a max. of £2,187.50).
  • From 1 August it will reduce again to 60% (up to a max. of £1,875).

Can an employer withdraw offers of employment or delay start dates for new recruits in light of the COVID-19 outbreak?

The first point to consider is whether a contract of employment has been entered into with the new recruits. 

If the new recruits have accepted an offer of employment without conditions, and there is therefore a binding contract of employment, then notice would need to be served in order to terminate the contract before they commence employment.  If there is a binding contract in force between the parties then any change in the start date will constitute a change in contractual terms. In this case, an employer would only be able to make a change to the start date either with the express consent of the new recruits or if it has an express contractual right to do so.

How should an employer go about making redundancies?

It may not always be possible for an employer to avoid making redundancies, even where alternatives are considered first. There are five principles for employers to follow when considering redundancies as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Do it openly. The sooner people understand the situation, the better for everyone.
  • Do it thoroughly. People need information and guidance so ensure that you have trained staff representatives in how the redundancy process works.
  • Do it genuinely. Listen to people’s views before making a decision, be open to alternatives from individuals and unions and always feed back to them.
  • Do it fairly. Any redundancy procedure should be conducted fairly and without any form of discrimination.
  • Do it with dignity. Consider ahead how to handle the conversation and whether it will be face-to-face or remote. The way an employer makes redundancies says a lot about the organisation’s values.

We considered Redundancy and the impact of COVID-19 in a recent bulletin – Redundancy – Getting it Right For Employers

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) Extended to 30 September 2021

In his Spring 2021 Budget, the Chancellor announced that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) will be extended for a further five months from May until the end of September 2021.

Is Furlough a Route to Redundancy?

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the scheme – which pays 80% of employees’ wages for the hours they cannot work in the pandemic – would help millions through “the challenging months ahead”.

Key Highlights Announced by the Chancellor

  • Employees will continue to receive 80% of their current salary for hours not worked. 
  • There will be no employer contributions beyond National Insurance contributions (NICs) and pensions required in April, May and June. 
  • From July, the government will introduce an employer contribution towards the cost of unworked hours. This will be 10% in July and 20% in August and September.
  • For periods ending on or before 30 April 2021, employers can claim for employees if they were employed on or before 30 October 2020, as long as they have made a PAYE Real Time Information (RTI) submission to HMRC between 20 March 2020 and 30 October 2020. This may differ if employees were made redundant, or they stopped working for the employer on or after 23 September 2020 and were then re-employed by the employer.
  • For periods on or after 1 May 2021, employers can claim for employees if they were employed on 2 March 2021, as long as they have made a PAYE Real Time Information (RTI) submission to HMRC between 20 March 2020 and 2 March 2021.

Do employers need to enter into fresh furlough agreements with employees from 1 May 2021?

As a result of the CJRS being extended to 30 September 2021, there will be several potential scenarios for Employers to consider, including:

  • An employee who was already furloughed before 30 April 2021 under an agreement without an end date.
  • An employee who was not already furloughed under the CJRS.

An employee who was already furloughed before 30 April 2021 under an agreement without an end date

Where an employee was furloughed under a written furlough agreement entered into before 31 October 2020 which remains in force, it may be possible for the previous furlough arrangement to simply continue after that date. 

The requirements of a valid furlough agreement under the fifth Treasury direction are the same as previously under the third Treasury direction (see paragraph 7.1, fifth Treasury direction) and at this time there is no requirement for the agreement to be entered into on or after 1 November 2020. The only requirement is that it is entered into before the period to which the claim relates (paragraph 7(c)(i)). Assuming the eligible employer and qualifying employee requirements continue to be met (which also remain substantially the same under the fifth Treasury direction, see paragraphs 4 and 6), it may be possible for furlough to continue under a previous furlough agreement. 

However, it is likely that some amendment will be required to most furlough agreements in order for the arrangement to continue after 30 April 2021. 

An employee who was not already furloughed under the CJRS 

As the employee was not furloughed previously, the employer should enter into a detailed furlough agreement with the employee and the employee should be asked to sign and return the agreement to confirm their agreement to be furloughed in accordance with the terms of the CJRS. This could be done electronically. 

The agreement should be made before the CJRS period to which it relates starts. 

What About Self-Employed Workers?

The Chancellor announced that the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) is also being extended with a fourth grant covering the period February to April 2021 and a fifth and final grant covering May to September 2021. 

There will be temporary continuation of tax exemptions for COVID-19 tests and home office expenses, and of the Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) Rebate Scheme while sickness levels remain high.

Can an employer require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19?

In a recent survey 23% of employers said they plan to require staff to be vaccinated, but can employers impose a mandatory vaccination requirement on their employees?

The Law on Mandatory Vaccinations

Although current legislation (the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 and the Coronavirus Act 2020), already gives the UK Government and devolved Administrations the power to make regulations to prevent, protect against, control or provide a public health response to the incidence or spread of infection or contamination, there is no legislation to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations and the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, has stated that the government is not considering introducing legislation to make vaccinations compulsory.

So, Can Employers Require Employees to be Vaccinated?

In the absence of it becoming a legal requirement an employer cannot force an employee to be vaccinated without their consent. Vaccination without consent could amount to the criminal offences of assault.

An employer considering imposing a mandatory vaccination requirement, or treating employees or job applicants differently because of their vaccination status, should consider the following: 

  • Vaccination is not suitable for everyone.
  • Requiring an employee to be vaccinated without their consent as a condition to providing work could amount to a repudiatory breach of contract, entitling them to claim constructive dismissal.
  • There are potential reasons where a mandatory requirement to be vaccinated could be indirectly discriminatory against certain protected characteristics and a breach of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
  • Currently, private vaccination is not available. All individuals must wait their turn, in order of priority, to be offered vaccination.  Allowing only vaccinated employees to return to the workplace could potentially lead to indirect or direct age discrimination claims by younger employees, although both direct and indirect age discrimination can be justified.
  • A vaccination requirement may be difficult to justify on health and safety grounds. Although vaccination reduces the chance of the vaccinated individual becoming ill, the extent to which vaccination reduces transmission is still under review. Although the Guide for healthcare workers states that it is likely that vaccinated healthcare workers will be less likely to pass on infection as the viral shedding period will be shortened. Further, it is not yet known how long protection from vaccination will last. The current advice is clear that vaccination is not a substitute for workplace COVID-secure measures which must continue to be complied with.
  • Imposing a mandatory vacation requirement could result in negative publicity for the employer which could have a detrimental impact on business profitability, employee retention and recruitment.
  • There is a very small risk that vaccination could have long-term adverse side effects for some individuals. A cautious employer may also be concerned about the risk of an employee having an adverse reaction to the vaccine. An employee who was compelled to obtain the vaccine and who suffers an adverse reaction, may attempt to bring personal injury proceedings against the employer. For information on potential waivers in this respect.
  • Consultation with workplace and health and safety representatives, and with trade unions, is likely to be required. 
  • There are data protection implications of requiring employees to provide information on their vaccination status, verifying its accuracy, and retaining that data.

In theory, an employer could decide to prevent unvaccinated employees from entering the workplace or restrict their duties. This could in turn adversely impact an unvaccinated employee’s pay.  Preventing an employee from coming to work risks leaving the employer in breach of contract and could give rise to claims of constructive dismissal if the employee resigns in response or is dismissed. 

The Acas guidance advises that employers should support staff in getting the vaccine but cannot force them to be vaccinated. However, it acknowledges that it may be necessary to make vaccination mandatory where it is necessary for someone to do their job, for example where they travel overseas and need to be vaccinated.

Alternatives to Mandatory Vaccination

Employers considering alternatives to mandatory vaccination may prefer to encourage voluntary vaccination within their workforces as an alternative to mandatory vaccinations.  Taking advantage of the information currently available on the potential advantages and disadvantages of vaccination, Employers could communicate this to staff to assist them in making an informed decision.  Doing so would be in accordance with an employers’ duty of care and obligation to take reasonable steps to provide a safe workplace and safe system of work.

Additional alternative measures employers should consider include:

  • regular testing for frontline staff (only available in England –;
  • regular health and safety reviews to ensure that the employer is up to date with, and properly implementing, the COVID-secure guidelines for its particular industry. 
  • allowing employees to work from home, where possible; or
  • temporarily changing employee roles or responsibilities to minimise the workplace risk as far as possible. 

Impact of Tougher COVID-19 Restrictions for Employers

Following today’s announcements by the UK Government and Scottish Administration, we consider the workplace issues in connection with the increased COVID-19 restrictions, including the impact on non-essential offices.

Exceptions to the New Travel Restrictions in Scotland

What About Non-Essential Offices?

In short, a move to stricter Level 4++ restrictions should NOT impose any new restrictions that prevent non-essential offices from continuing to operate as they have been or prohibit those staff that have been attending work from commuting to work.

The default position from the Scottish administration has always remained that non-essential offices should remain closed and that staff should work from home where possible, but there is nothing in the legislation (original or recent) that requires non-essential offices and/or manufactures to close OR which restricts the movement of people either within or between different tier areas in the same way that Part 3, Regulation 5 of the now revoked Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 set out the restrictions on movement which, in the early phases of lockdown, meant people could not leave their homes unless they were a key worker, an essential worker or otherwise had a valid reason to.

However, Schedule 5 of the latest legislation, which sets out in detail the Level 4 restrictions lists which types of businesses are required to shut, makes no reference whatsoever to non-essential offices, therefore, provided you have undertaken the appropriate H&S risk assessment and introduced all necessary controls and measures to protect your staff, there is no requirement to shut non-essential offices. 

What Issues Might Employers Face if Level 4 Restrictions Are Imposed?

Many of the issues facing employers as they stare down the barrel of further lockdown restrictions will be similar to those they faced when the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic started to impact on peoples’ lives and work back in March this year.

The immediate issue for employers of business workplaces that are not being specifically required to close is whether they should close voluntarily, in full or in part.  The fact that the Furlough scheme has been extended to the end of March 2021 means this is a viable option and one that would enable them to retain staff for however long the stricter lockdown restrictions remain in place.

We set out the key features of the extended furlough scheme here:  The Extended CJRS (furlough scheme)

However, if closing the workplace isn’t an option, other issues employers may face include the following:

  • Staff either being or living with a “clinically extremely vulnerable’ or ‘clinically vulnerable’ person.
  • Childcare issues and staff claiming they can’t return to work because schools are closed.
  • Staff simply being extremely anxious about the risk posed by COVID-19 and frightened of a return to the office.
  • Staff expressing concerns relating to health & safety and what they perceive to be the employer’s failure to follow government guidance.

The appropriate approach employers should take will depend on the specific reasons set out by each employee, but employers will need to proceed with caution to avoid the risk of possible claims at the Employment Tribunal.

Support from Employment Law Services (ELS)

England Introduces Tougher National Lockdown Restrictions

This evening Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the nation to confirm tougher lockdown restrictions will be introduced across England with effect from midnight 4 January 2021, suggesting England could “steadily” move out of the national lockdown from mid-February.

UK COVID-19 Lockdown Extended

Tougher Lockdown Restrictions in England

Most areas of England are already subject to strict tier 4 restrictions but despite this, COVID infections have continued to rise at an alarming rate with 58,784 new cases of the virus having been recorded today (Monday 4 January 2021).

The Prime Minister’s announcement this evening follows a similar announcement by Scotland’s First Minister, during which she confirmed tougher lockdown restrictions being introduced across Scotland from midnight on 4 January 2021.

Key Changes to Lockdown Restrictions in England

  • Whereas local restrictions applied in England previously, these new, tougher restrictions will apply nationally across the whole of England.
  • It will now be a legal requirement to stay at home and not leave home except for essential purposes, such as shopping for basic necessities (as infrequently as possible), to undertake exercise alone or with members of your household only for a medical need to provide care or help a vulnerable person, or to travel to and from work, only if absolutely necessary and only if you are unable to work from home.
  • Clinically extremely vulnerable people should begin shielding again and those not able to work from home should not go into work at all.
  • Primary and secondary Schools will be closed to the majority of pupils from 5 January 2021, except for vulnerable children and those of key workers, and will move to remote learning only.  Exams have been cancelled.

In making his announcement, the Prime Minister confirmed that the whole of the UK must now move to COVID Alert Level 5 “meaning that if action is not taken, NHS capacity may be overwhelmed within 21 days”.

Citizens across the United Kingdom are again being told to: 

“Stay at home. Protect the NHS. Save Lives.”

Impact of New Restrictions for Employers

Following today’s announcements, we consider some of the issues Employers might face due to tougher lockdown restrictions and what the new tougher restrictions might mean to Employers. 

We also set out the key features of the extended furlough scheme here:  The Extended CJRS (furlough scheme)

What About Restrictions Wales and Northern Ireland?

Wales imposed level 4 restrictions on 20 December 2020 and Scotland and Northern Ireland imposed tier 4 lockdown restrictions from midnight on 26 December 2020, but despite these restrictions COVID infections have continued to rise at an alarming rate with 54,990 new cases of the virus having been recorded on Sunday 3 January 2021. With the rest of the UK now subjected to even tougher lockdown restrictions similar to those introduced on 23 March 2020, it looks very likely that Wales and Northern Ireland will also introduce further restrictions and the respective administrations are meeting this evening to discuss the ongoing situation to decide what steps they will take.

From Darkness to Light – The Roll Out of the COVID-19 Vaccine

The newly approved coronavirus vaccine created by Oxford University and AstraZeneca is being rolled out across the UK today and the Prime Minister said that “if things go well”, the government expects to have offered a first vaccine dose to everyone in the four top priority groups in England by mid-February.  This includes vaccinating all residents in a care home for older adults and their carers, everyone over the age of 70 and all frontline health and social care workers.  The Scottish government has said it is “on track” to vaccinate everyone eligible in the first wave by spring 2021.

Support from Employment Law Services (ELS)

Advice & Guidance for Employers & Employees

The COVID-19 lockdown restrictions continue to present numerous and complex challenges for Employers and Employees alike. If you are experiencing challenges and require specialists advice, book a free consultation with our team of employment law specialists.

Scotland Introduce Even Tougher Lockdown Restrictions

In a statement to the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish First Minister has announced that effective from midnight 4 January 2021, Scotland will be subjected to even tougher lockdown restrictions.

Emerging from Lockdown – Guidance for UK Employers

As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases rises to record levels, fuelled mainly by a new more transmissible variant of the virus, even tougher lockdown restrictions in the rest of the UK look imminent and further announcements are expected.

Tougher Lockdown Restrictions in Scotland

As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases rises to record levels, fuelled mainly by a new more transmissible variant of the virus, the Scottish administration has conceded that NHS Scotland services are struggling to cope and noted that if infection numbers continue to increase at current levels, there is a real risk the NHS will be overwhelmed, even with the existing contingencies and current level 4 restrictions, and this is why these tougher restrictions are necessary.

These new, tougher restrictions will remain in place until at least the end of January but may be extended if necessary.

Key Changes to Lockdown Restrictions in Scotland

In summary, these key changes will apply to those parts of Scotland currently in tier 4 restrictions (mainland Scotland) and those that will most adversely impact Employers in Scotland are as follows:

  • It will now be a legal requirement to stay at home and not leave home except for essential purposes, such as essential shopping, exercise or travelling to work where it is not possible to work from home.
  • The default position is that those who can work from home must do so, and nobody should travel to work unless it is not possible to work from home.
  • Strict travel restrictions will remain in place and travel between local authority areas remains unlawful, except where travel is for essential purposes.
  • Anyone previously required to shield and not able to work from home should not go into work at all. The chief medical officer will write to those concerned.
  • Schools will remain closed to the majority of pupils until 1 February and this will apply to all pupils – except vulnerable children, and children of key workers. It includes nursery schools, as well as primary and secondary schools.  This decision which will be reviewed in mid-January.

Impact of New Restrictions for Employers

Following today’s announcements, we consider some of the issues Employers might face due to tougher lockdown restrictions and what the new tougher restrictions might mean to Employers

We also set out the key features of the extended furlough scheme here:  The Extended CJRS (furlough scheme)

What About Restrictions in England, Wales and Northern Ireland?

Most areas of England are now subject to tier 4 restrictions, Wales imposed level 4 restrictions on 20 December 2020 and Northern Ireland imposed tier 4 lockdown restrictions from midnight on 26 December 2020, but despite these restrictions COVID infections have continued to rise at an alarming rate with 54,990 new cases of the virus having been recorded on Sunday 3 January 2021.

Support from Employment Law Services (ELS)

Advice & Guidance for Employers & Employees

The COVID-19 lockdown restrictions continue to present numerous and complex challenges for Employers and Employees alike. If you are experiencing challenges and require specialists advice, book a free consultation with our team of employment law specialists.