Employment advice during Covid 19 pandemic


How can I follow the government’s advice?


The current government advice is for everyone to stay at home, except in specific situations. Employers should support their workforce to take these steps. One way to do this may be for the employer to introduce more flexible ways of working.

They could do this by allowing their employees to work from home. If this is the case they should pay the employee as usual, keep in regular contact, check on the employee's health and wellbeing.


What if I don’t want to travel to my place of work?


Some people might feel they don’t want to go to work if they're afraid of catching coronavirus, especially those who are at higher risk. Your employer should listen to any concerns and should take reasonable steps to protect everyone. If you still do not want to go to work, you may be able to arrange to take the time off as holiday or unpaid leave however your employer does not have to agree to this.

If you are still being asked to go out to work and believe you are at a higher risk, it's important that you talk to their employer. If you are unable to follow guidance on social distancing at work or during travel to work, you should tell your employer that you need to follow government advice and stay at home.

It is important to remember that if you refuse to attend work without a valid reason, it could result in disciplinary action.

However, you are protected by law against unfair treatment and dismissal, regardless of the length of time you have worked for your employer, if it's because of pregnancy, age or a health condition that's considered a disability under the Equality Act.

It could be unlawful discrimination on the grounds of pregnancy, disability or age if your employer either unreasonably tries to pressure you to go to work or unreasonably disciplines you for not going to work.


What if I’m self isolating?

You must receive any statutory sick pay if you need to self-isolate because you have coronavirus, you have coronavirus symptoms, someone in your household has coronavirus symptoms or you've been told to self-isolate by a doctor.

If you are in self-isolation you must follow your workplace's usual sickness reporting process. You can 'self-certify' for the first 7 days off work. This means following your workplace process but not having to get a note from a doctor.

If you are self-isolating due to coronavirus for more than 7 days you can get an online self-isolation note from the NHS website or NHS direct Wales. It's a good idea to check your workplace's policy on absence from work.


My workplace has had to close?


All non-essential premises must now close. This includes cafés, pubs, restaurants, leisure centres, cinemas, theatres, and electronics and clothing shops.

The government will be providing financial support for employees who are temporarily sent home because there’s no work (‘furloughed workers’) and self-employed workers


Furlough?


Financial support for furloughed workers will be provided to your employer through the ‘Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme’.

This scheme has been made available to employers who use PAYE payroll from 28 February 2020. It may include employees, workers, casual workers, those who have zero-hours contracts.

HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers' wage costs to employers, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. Payments will be made every 3 weeks. This is because 3 weeks is the shortest period a furlough can last. Employers will be able to make a claim for the money once HMRC's new system is available. Claims can be backdated to 1 March 2020. It's up to employers whether they pay the remaining 20% of wages. They do not have to pay it.

To be eligible for the scheme, employers must select and tell the employees affected that they’re furloughed, keep employees on the employer’s payroll, make sure furloughs last at least 3 weeks.

If an employee was made redundant on or after the 28th February the employer can decide to rehire them and put them on furlough.

If you have more than one job each job is treated separately. This means you may be able to either continue to work for the other job or be furloughed for both jobs. If you are furloughed for both jobs, you’ll be eligible for financial support for each job.

Your employer must select you for furlough in a fair way and avoid any discrimination. They need to get agreement from you to do this, unless it’s covered by a clause in your employment contract. If you disagree with your employer's decision, you need to talk to your employer and try to come to an agreement.

If an employer cannot reach an agreement, they may want to change the written terms in your contract.

Any furlough agreements should be in writing. It's a good idea to include the date furlough starts, when it will be reviewed, how to keep in contact during furlough.


What if I’m Self Employed?


Financial support will be provided to self-employed workers through the ‘Self-Employed Income Support Scheme’. You will receive a taxable grant of 80% of your average monthly income, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. HMRC will be contacting you directly if you’re eligible for the scheme.


Lay off?


In some situations, your employer might need to close down their business for a short time, or ask you to reduce your contracted hours. If your employer thinks they'll need to do this, it's important that they talk with you as early as possible and throughout the closure. Unless it says in your contract or is agreed otherwise, they still need to pay employees for this time. If you are laid off and are not entitled to your usual pay you may be entitled to a 'statutory guarantee payment' of up to £29 a day from your employer. This is limited to a maximum of 5 days in any 3-month period. On days when a guarantee payment is not payable, you may be able to claim Jobseeker's Allowance.


I’ve been asked to use my holidays?

Your employer can tell you when to take holiday if they need to. They could, for example, shut for a week and tell everyone to use their holiday entitlement. If your employer decides to do this, they must tell you at least twice as many days before as the amount of days they need you to take. So, if they want to close for 5 days, they should tell you at least 10 days before.






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