- 24 Feb 2021
- 2 min read
Employment Alert – COVID-19 Spring Response
The Prime Minister has announced the Government’s four step approach to the easing of lockdown measures. More detailed information has been set out in the Government’s “COVID-19 Response – Spring 2021” here.
The Spring Response document contains tailored guidance for specific industries, for example when pubs, restaurants, shops, gyms and other leisure facilities can reopen. It also provides for a review which will determine when other measures – including a full return to work for people who are currently required to work from home – can take place.
Why is this important?
Businesses that are currently unable to operate due to the lockdown will be eager to know when they can expect to reopen.
The Spring Response provides details of the plan for this, and sets out a roadmap of four steps. By the end of those four steps, it is hoped that all businesses will be able to operate without restrictions.
Provisional dates are given for each of the steps, but the dates are subject to certain conditions being met before each stage is implemented (such as vaccines sufficiently reducing deaths and hospitalisations, and new COVID variants not fundamentally changing the risk). With a 5 week gap between each stage, it is hoped that step four – when all restrictions are effectively lifted – will apply from 21 June.
The Prime Minister said very little about “working from home” in his announcement. The current position is that people are only allowed to go to work if they cannot work from home. The Spring Response gives some guidance as to when these employees will be able to return to work.
It states that a review will be carried out ahead of step 4 (so ahead of 21 June at the earliest). The results of that review will then inform guidance on working from home. The document also specifies that people should continue to work from home where they can until this review is complete.
The Government has not yet announced what financial support (if any) it will be offering to employers when the furlough scheme ends in April. Given that many businesses will still be facing restrictions at that point, we are expecting the Chancellor to announce extended financial support packages for employers in his budget on 3 March 2021.
What should you do?
- Review and familiarise yourself with the employment provisions contained in the COVID-19 Spring Response.
- Establish how the four step approach will directly impact on your business.
- Continue to direct employees to work from home if they can do so.
- For those employees who are unable to work from home, ensure that the measures you have put in place to provide a COVID secure workplace continue to be observed.
- Keep in contact with staff about your organisation’s approach in light of this Spring Response. Consider and take into account any particular concerns that your employees may raise with you.
If you need more information please contact us on 0800 2800 421 or email [email protected] to find out how we can help.