What will the new lockdown mean for my business?

What will the new lockdown mean for my business?

 Guidance has now been published by the Government following the announcement of the new national lockdown from November 5.

 Read it in full here:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/new-national-restrictions-from-5-november#going-to-work

 We’re still awaiting full detail, but here is our summary of what we know so far.

Businesses that need to close

 The government has ordered the following types of business to close:

  • 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. Note that non-essential retail can remain open for delivery and click & collect.
  • 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, and 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.
  • Hospitality venues like restaurants, bars and pubs. Not that they may continue to provide takeaway and delivery services (though takeaway of alcohol is not permitted).

Hotels, hostels and other accommodation should only open for those who have to travel for work purposes and for a limited number of other exemptions which will be set out in law.

Closed A
Working from home

The government is asking everyone who can work from home to do so. However, people who cannot work from home should continue to travel to work to attend their workplace.

Shielding

The government is advising anyone who is over 70 or clinically extremely vulnerable (i.e. advised to shield in the first national lockdown), to try to work from home if possible.

If they cannot work from home, they are advised not to go to work and in most cases should be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay.

The government is due to write to people who are clinically extremely vulnerable with updated guidance in due course, but if you have anyone who was required to shield in the first national lockdown you will need to make arrangements for them to stay at home.

Job Support Scheme

The Job Support Scheme that was due to start with effect from 1st November 2020 is to be delayed for now.

If you have already written to your employees about the JSS and/ or asked them to sign a written agreement to the JSS, you will need to send them an update to explain that furlough will continue to apply (see below) and that you may need to come back to the JSS in due course depending on the government’s plans.

Furlough extension

The furlough scheme is extended “until December” – this will cover the four-week national lockdown (due to end 2nd December 2020). We anticipate that it will be further extended to cover any extension to the national lockdown, which has already been indicated.

The intention is to take us back to how furlough was in August 2020, which means:

  • you can use flexible furlough to ask staff to work part time
  • staff will receive 80% of their pay up to a cap of £2,500
  • employers will be responsible for paying tax, NI contributions and pension contributions – but will not have to contribute towards the 80% pay.

The extended furlough scheme is being made available to employees who were on your payroll on/ before midnight on 30th October 2020 and so there may be some staff who have not previously qualified for furlough who will now be eligible including recent starters and those who have worked through the pandemic up until now.

Written agreements

Remember that you must have a written agreement in place with your employee in order to put them on furlough and claim payment from HMRC. This doesn’t have to be a formal contract (though it can be), an exchange of emails will be sufficient. If you have a furlough agreement in place already, you might want to consider sending an update out to employees to confirm that the furlough agreement will continue and the hours and pay arrangements for this – you can do this on an email and ask them to reply to confirm their agreement. If you don’t have a furlough agreement in place, you’ll need to get something out – let us know if we can help you with this.

Holiday

For the time being, it appears that the previous guidance on taking holiday during furlough leave applies. This means that you can ask staff to take holiday during furlough leave, you will need to give them adequate notice of this and pay them at 100% of their pay for the holiday days. However, you will be able to claim back the 80% pay through furlough: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/holiday-entitlement-and-pay-during-coronavirus-covid-19

Notice periods: under furlough scheme rules you can put an employee into their notice period whilst on furlough and continue to claim back the 80% pay through their notice period. This was due to be stopped under the Job Support Scheme and so we are unclear on whether you will be able to continue doing it under the extended furlough scheme.

We hope that you have found our update useful – if you need help with any HR or employment law matter, please get in touch.