02/11/20

Second Lockdown: Rules and Arrangements

Boris’ announcement on Saturday felt somewhat inevitable.  In response to rapid rising case numbers, we will be placed back into a national lockdown from Thursday 5 November to Wednesday 2 December.

Whilst many of the arrangements will be similar to those we endured before, we have provided a recap below of the second lockdown rules and arrangements to be aware of and identified the key differences from the first lockdown.

The businesses that have been ordered to close include (note extract taken from Gov.uk as at 8am this morning https://www.gov.uk/guidance/new-national-restrictions-from-5-november):

  • all non-essential retail, including, but not limited to clothing and electronics stores, vehicle showrooms, travel agents, betting shops, auction houses, tailors, car washes, tobacco and vape shops.
  • indoor and outdoor leisure facilities such as bowling alleys, leisure centres and gyms, sports facilities including swimming pools, golf courses and driving ranges, dance studios, stables and riding centres, soft play facilities, climbing walls and climbing centres, archery and shooting ranges, water and theme parks,
  • entertainment venues such as theatres, concert halls, cinemas, museums and galleries, casinos, adult gaming centres and arcades, bingo halls, bowling alleys, concert halls, zoos and other animal attractions, botanical gardens;
  • personal care facilities such as hair, beauty and nail salons, tattoo parlours, spas, massage parlours, body and skin piercing services, non-medical acupuncture, and tanning salons.

A full list of the business closures will be set out in law this week.  Those that can remain open must follow Covid-secure guidelines.

As in March, everyone who can work effectively from home must do so.  Those who cannot (including construction and manufacturing) shall continue to stay open.

Unlike in March, schools and universities are currently remaining open.

Furlough Continuation

The Government has confirmed that the flexible furlough scheme, which was due to end on 31 October 2020, shall be extended for this month period.  That will provide 80% contribution to employees’ wages (subject to the previous cap) but employers will be liable for the national insurance and employer pension contributions only for the hours not worked by the employees.  The flexibility will remain, such that if you believe that you have some but not all work available to your employees, you can use furlough to “top up” their non-working hours.

The Job Support Scheme, which was due to come in on 1 November 2020, has been postponed until the furlough scheme ends.

The eligibility criteria has been modified to permit that anyone employed on the employer’s payroll by 23.59 on 30 October 2020 will be included, so you must have submitted RTI to HMRC on or before 30 October 2020 for each employee.  This should pick up the overwhelming majority of “new starters” taken on over the summer as businesses began to see an increase in their trading activity.

Business Grants

Businesses required to close in England due to local or national restrictions will be eligible for the following:

·         For properties with a rateable value of £15k or under, grants to be £1,334 per month, or £667 per two weeks;

·         For properties with a rateable value of between £15k-£51k grants to be £2,000 per month, or £1,000 per two weeks;

·         For properties with a rateable value of £51k or over grants to be £3,000 per month, or £1,500 per two weeks.

Protecting Vulnerable Employees

It is anticipated that guidance in relation to those previously advised to Shield will be issued today.  Currently, the advice states that those Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) should work from home or should not go to work and consider whether they are eligible for SSP.  Clearly, for those businesses who have employees who are CEV, this could mean difficult conversations in the workplace today.  Some employees may be reluctant to take sick leave for this period as that may leave them in a worse financial position.  Furlough has previously been an option for employers to utilise.  If you have an employee who is CEV who cannot work from home, it is hoped that the later guidance on shielding will address this difficulty.  Please do contact us if you would like to consider this further.

Next Steps

Please contact us for detailed guidance in relation to your circumstances.  Whether you need to consider how to furlough employees again, are furloughing for the first time or are a business that will stay open and need to ensure that you will have the vital staff numbers to do so, please get in touch.  We understand how challenging these circumstances are and will do all that we can to help guide you through the winter months.

Please get in touch with us for further guidance and support – employment@kitsons-solicitors.co.uk

That concludes our recap of the second lockdown rules and arrangements.

02/11/20

About the author

Jayme NicholsonPartner and Head of Employment

Jayme is a Partner and Head of our Employment Team

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