COVID-19 Impact for Employers & Employees

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Following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve seen some drastic changes being made not only to the way we work, but also to the way we each go about our daily lives.

With social distancing being advised and much of the population now self-isolating, changes are also being put into place in the realms of employment law.


Online Isolation Notices

News has recently been announced which suggests that employees will have access to online resources which will allow them to provide their employer with proof of self-isolation.

If an employee has been advised to self-isolate, whether that be because they themselves have exhibited symptoms of coronavirus or a member of their household has displayed symptoms, they are currently able to self-certify their absence from work for the first seven days of isolation. For any isolation period which extends beyond this, the employer may then ask for evidence to be provided which acts as proof of their sickness absence.

The new online system will allow employees to gain an isolation note, which can be provided to their employer as proof. Eliminating the need for any contact, after answering a set of questions online, the employee will receive the note via email, or can opt for it to be sent to a trust friend or family member, or even directly to their employer, if they do not have an email address.

An isolation note will not be required from those who need to claim Universal Credit or Employment and Support Allowance.

Whilst the system, available through the NHS website and NHS 111 online, isn’t yet active, it is anticipated to launch imminently.


Government Aid – Business Owners & the Self-Employed

Several government allowances and financial support packages have been outlined for businesses amidst the complications caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. These include, but are not limited to:

  • A Statutory Sick Pay relief package for small and medium-sized enterprises
  • A 12-month business rates holiday for all businesses in retail, hospitality or leisure sectors in England
  • Grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
  • A new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity amongst larger firms
  • The HMRC Time to Pay Scheme

For further information on the financial support packages that are currently available to businesses, please visit the government website.

The government has also put into place several plans to help individuals who are self-employed and whose work has been affected by the virus. If you are suffering from COVD-19 or have been advised to self-isolate, making a claim for Universal Credit or Employment and Support Allowance has now been made simpler and more accessible. To find out more about the support the government is providing to individuals affected by the pandemic, click here.


Employment Tribunals

It has now been announced that, effective from Monday 23rd March, all employment tribunals in England, Scotland and Wales will no longer take place in person.

Any hearing where the parties are expected to physically attend, for example at a tribunal hearing centre, will be carried out instead as a case management hearing made via telephone or other electronic means.

If the case is set down for more than one day, then parties should proceed on the basis that the remainder of the days fixed have consequently been cancelled.


Are you unsure about any matters relating to employment law amidst the coronavirus pandemic? Contact our office today to gain further clarification from a member of our team.