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Employment legal issues in the UK during COVID-19 pandemic

Employment legal issues in the UK during COVID-19 pandemic

The UK government has introduced the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) available for all employers in the country including companies, partnerships, not-for-profit organizations, and public authorities. The scheme applies to employees who have been "furloughed", which means the employees who saved their jobs but who are on an unpaid vacation due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The HMRC will pay employers for 80% of wage costsup to a cap of £2,500 per month.

Employees eligible for statutory sick pay should be paid starting from day one of their absence, rather than starting from day four. The costs of any statutory sick pay that small employers (fewer than 250 employees) pay absent employees for the first 14 days of sickness will be reimbursed by the UK government.

The Scheme is introduced temporary starting from March 1st in order to help employers to retain employees and protect the UK economy.

The employer’s eligibility to use the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The employer must have:

  1. Сreated and started a PAYE payroll scheme on or before 19 March 2020;
  2. Enrolled for PAYE online;
  3. A UK bank account.

To use the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme the employer has to complete the following steps:

  1. Check the requirements to claim;
  2. Calculate 80% of the employees’ wage using the calculator;
  3. Submit a request for the employees’ wages online;
  4. Report a payment.

Responsibility of the employer towards the employees

The UK government requires all employers to assess and review risks and to maintain an emergency procedures policy, should there be an event that creates a "serious and imminent danger to persons at work".

If the employees contract the virus during the course of the employment they may bring the personal injury claim in case the employer’s measures towards their health safeguard were insufficient.

The employees are provided with the right to refuse to work from office for safety reasons.

Compensation for employees during the quarantine period

All employees who are currently on quarantine/self-isolation are entitled to the statutory sick pay in line with government guidance.

The employer should take seriously any fears of the employee regarding COVID-19  and let the employee stay home. Where possible, the employees should work from home or take a day off or unpaid leave. It is advised that employers make sure that employees are aware of the governmental support programs for employees.

Employees showing any symptoms during work

In case if the employee shows any symptoms during work the employer should send that person home on self-isolation and advise to follow the governmental quarantine advice.

Closing the office is not mandatory at this stage. Still, it is advised to contact the local Public Health authority.

Employee data privacy

Please see our article about the Privacy of Employees during COVID-19.

If you need help with the submission of Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme documents or any other employment-related issues, Legal Nodes legal network is here to help. 

Disclaimer: the information in this article is provided for informational purposes only. You should not construe any such information as legal, tax, investment, trading, financial, medical, or other advice. Information in this article may differ from the official position of the UK public authorities. 

Legal Nodes Team

 

 

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