This week there have been two important announcements for UK employers in connection with the coronavirus pandemic:
Furlough leave scheme extended
Earlier this afternoon the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced that the Government would extend the furlough leave scheme until the end of October. The rate of payment, 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 per month gross, will continue but after July the scheme will be amended so as to “support the transition back to work” and avoid a “cliff edge” withdrawal of financial support. It will continue to apply to all sectors of the economy but employers will be asked to share the cost and staff will be able to work part-time. Details of how this will be implemented are due at the end of the month.
Return to work guidance published
The other key measure has been yesterday’s publication of the Government’s return to work guidelines. Separate information has been published for different workplaces with working from home still being core to the policy. Where employees cannot work from home, steps that will usually be needed include risk assessments, staggered start times, shift patterns, social distancing and cleaning.
Emma Davies, a partner in our commercial dispute resolution team, comments on the five key considerations for employers in assessing the risks of reopening the workplace.
Finally, on 6 May 2020, the Pensions Regulator added information for employers on auto-enrolment for furloughed employees into its general Covid-19 guidance. Verity Cruse, a senior associate in our pensions team, has summarised the five key pointers for employers.