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Employment law guide

Coronavirus and employment law in the UK

Information about how the Coronavirus emergency has affected employment law in the UK.

Working safely and coronavirus

There is guidance for businesses on working safely and reducing the spread of coronavirus here:

Government guidance.

Employers are being told to carry out a Health and Safety risk assessment for COVID-19 identifying sensible measures to control the risks in your workplace.

Guidance on Covid-19 safety risk assessments (HSE).

Furlough scheme for employees

The Government gave employers an option to continue to employ staff they have no work for due to Covid-19 and to "furlough" them. This meant they remained employed and the employer paid their wages and claimed 80% or up to £2,500 a month back from the Government.

The scheme was closed to new entrants from 30 June. The final date by which an employer could furlough an employee for the first time was 10 June. From 1 July, employers have been able to bring back to work employees that have previously been furloughed for any amount of time and any shift pattern, while still being able to claim CJRS grant for their normal hours not worked.

There will be a reduced level in the grant from 1 August 2020, until the scheme closes on 31 October 2020.

The government will introduce a one-off payment of £1,000 to UK employers for every furloughed employee who remains continuously employed through to the end of January 2021. Employees must earn above the Lower Earnings Limit (£520 per month) on average between the end of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the end of January 2021. Payments will be made from February 2021.

The Government support pages for employers are here:

Government support for businesses (gov.uk)

Job Retention Scheme Guidance (gov.uk)

Health and safety

Employers have a legal duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all their employees.

An employer who fails to ensure safety by following the Government advice and guidance regarding the possibility of its workers being infected by Covid-19 risks being in breach of statutory and common law duties.

Statutory sick pay

The law on SSP has been changed to cover people who self-isolate because of coronavirus and to make it payable from the first day of a period of entitlement.

The Statutory Sick Pay (Coronavirus) (Suspension of Waiting Days and General Amendment) Regulations 2020 came into force on 28 March 2020 and suspend the limitation, set out in section 155(1) of the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992, that Statutory Sick Pay is not payable for the first three qualifying days in a period of entitlement.

They also amend the Statutory Sick Pay (General) Regulations 1982 (“the 1982 Regulations”) to specify when a person isolating by reason of coronavirus is deemed to be incapable of work, by inserting a Schedule into those Regulations which specifies when a person is deemed to be incapable of work because the person is staying at home.

This includes persons with symptoms of coronavirus staying at home for 7 days, and persons living in the household of a person with symptoms of coronavirus staying at home for 14 days, and those people who are advised to self-isolate as part of the government’s test and trace program.