As South Yorkshire gets ready to move into the highest-level local lockdown later this week, following Manchester and Liverpool, employment law specialist and Langleys Solicitors partner, Mini Setty, discusses how businesses across the country should be preparing for the stricter measures, should they become subject to them at short notice.
Commenting on the news, Mini said: “Decisions are coming thick and fast, with not much warning, so employers need to make sure their employees are equipped to work from home at short notice, where possible, as they did during the summer months. If it is not possible for staff to do their work from home, for example employees at a non-food-serving bar, employers must be aware of and understand the new Job Support Scheme taking over from furlough arrangements on November 1.
“The end of the furlough system, which has been in place since April, and the introduction of the Job Support Scheme (JSS) will require new applications and paperwork, which must be correctly updated to avoid employees facing issues claiming any support from HMRC. Employers in all tiers must have a plan in the event of being moved into Tier 3, and this must be clearly communicated to their staff – namely how much they will get paid and whether they are allowed to do other jobs.
“Tier 3 businesses which are forced to close under local restrictions will qualify for the JSS Closed Premises Scheme, where the Government will pay the wages of affected staff up to 67 per cent with no obligatory contribution from the employer, should the business be shut for at least seven days.
“Businesses which choose to close and can take advantage of the JSS Short-Time Working Scheme, where the Government will top up the wages of employees working at least 20 per cent of their hours so they are receiving 77 per cent of their usual pay, with just five per cent paid by the employer. By offering these measures, closing businesses and redundancies can be avoided until areas are out of restrictions and business picks up.
“It’s so important that companies understand their rights and the options available to them whilst deciding on their contingency plans in the case of going into a Tier 3 lockdown. The key to making the transition as smooth as possible, with the least possible impact on the business is preparing, communicating and actioning as business operations face yet more changes.”