11/12/2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Businesses and Employers Bulletin 11 December  2020  

Please see the most recent COVID-19 bulletin below.

CONTENTS

Temporary relaxation of the enforcement of the drivers’ hours rules: delivery of essential items to retailers
In response to pressures on local and national supply chains, the Department for Transport has introduced a temporary and limited urgent relaxation of the enforcement of EU drivers’ hours rules in England, Scotland and Wales. This temporary relaxation will apply from 12:01am on 10 December 2020 and will run until 11:59pm on 30 December 2020. Find out about who the relaxation applies to and information on using the relaxation here.

Business evictions ban extended until March 2021
Business owners affected by the pandemic will be protected from eviction until the end of March 2021. This final extension to protections from the threat of eviction will give landlords and tenants 3 months to come to an agreement on unpaid rent. Further guidance to support negotiations between landlords and tenants will also be published shortly. A review of commercial landlord and tenant legislation has also been announced, to address concerns that the current framework does not reflect the current economic conditions. More information is available here.

New Guidance
Quarantine Exception for a senior executive working in England, bringing significant economic benefit to the UK: Senior executives can temporarily leave quarantine in England if they are undertaking business activities which are likely to be of significant economic benefit to the UK. Find out who is exempted; how to comply with the exemption and examples of activity that would or would not likely to qualify for an exemption here.

Updated Guidance
Extension to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: This scheme (CJRS) has been extended until the end of March 2021 for all parts of the UK.

  • From 1 November, the UK Government will pay 80% of employees’ usual wages for the hours not worked, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. The terms of the scheme will be reviewed in January.
  • You must continue to pay the associated employer National Insurance contributions and any pension contributions from your own funds.
  • You and your employees do not need to have benefitted from the scheme before, to claim for periods after 1 November.
  • There are now monthly deadlines for claims. This means that you may need to submit earlier than you have in previous months.
  • You must submit any claims for November, no later than 14 December.

The full guidance for claims from November onwards, including how you can check if you’re eligible and how to calculate and make a claim online, can be found here.

Working safely during coronavirus updates: 

  • for Restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway: guidance on Tier 3 restrictions to clarify that customers can enter the premises to place or collect any type of order between 5am and 11pm has been updated. See the ‘What’s changed’ section for further information, here.
  • Labs and research facilities page has been updated to clarify that workplace canteens open to staff only do not need to collect data for NHS Test and Trace. See the ‘What’s changed’ section for further information here.
  • Shops and branches – Updated guidance to clarify that betting shops must keep a record of all customers, visitors and staff and that workplace canteens open to staff only do not need to collect data for NHS Test and Trace. See the ‘What’s changed’ section for further information here.
  • What you can and cannot do in areas in Tier 1 and Tier 2 of local restrictions- Check updated information on visiting venues and added links to guidance on which businesses and venues are permitted to be open in both Tier 1 and Tier 2:
  • Tier 1: Medium alert – Visiting venues; and business and venues.
  • Tier 2: High alert – Visiting venues;  and  businesses and venues.

Guidance for businesses and organisations on how to recognise, contain and report incidents of coronavirus: this page has been updated with a section ‘Early outbreak management action card example’. Check updated information contained within the “action card” here

PPE portal- How to order Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): The page is updated with order limits for domiciliary care providers. Eligible health and social care providers can order PPE through the portal to meet the increased need that has arisen as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The current order limits for different types and sizes of eligible health and social care providers can be found here.

Health and wellbeing of the adult social care workforce: This page has been updated to reflect current guidance on health and wellbeing and the new local tier restrictions. This advice is for those working in adult social care on managing their mental health and how employers can take care of the wellbeing of their staff during the coronavirus outbreak. Check the update.

Statutory Sick Pay eligibility for those self-isolating or shielding due to coronavirus: 

  • If your employee is sick or incapable of work, you must pay them a minimum of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), where they are eligible.
  • If your employee is clinically extremely vulnerable and cannot work because they have received a notification advising them to shield, you can furlough them under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme if you are eligible to do so. As a minimum, you must pay them SSP, where they are eligible.
  • You must pay SSP from the first day of your employee’s absence from work if they are self-isolating due to COVID-19. This could be because:
    • They are displaying symptoms of, or have tested positive for, COVID-19
    • Someone in their household (including linked or extended household) is displaying symptoms of, or has tested positive for COVID-19
    • They have been notified by the NHS or public health authorities that they have been in contact with someone with COVID-19.
    • Your employee may be required to self-isolate multiple times. Each time they are required to self-isolate “provided all eligibility criteria are met” they must receive SSP for the duration of their absence.

Small and medium employers can reclaim up to two weeks of SSP paid per employee for absences related to COVID-19.

Level 3 Qualifications offer and update on Skills Bootcamps
Department for Education Announces: Level 3 qualifications offer and update on Skills Bootcamps
The Lifetime Skills Guarantee aims to transform the adult education system. As part of this:

  • from April 2021, adults without A Levels (or equivalent) will be eligible to study for a fully-funded Level 3 qualification. There are nearly 400 courses available in sectors from engineering and construction, to conservation, child development or business and accounting.

Additionally, new Skills Bootcamps offer flexible courses of just 12-16 weeks, giving adults aged 19+, the opportunity to build sector-specific skills and fast-track to an interview with a local employer. These short digital and technical courses will enable employers to play a leading role in the skills system and fill skills gaps at local levels. Currently available in six regions, Skills Bootcamps will expand into new areas and subjects in 2021. For more information visit  https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-skills-fund.

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

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