Covid-19 – Latest Guidance from the Government – 5.30pm 31st March 2020

James Williams

Main points from today

  • Cabinet Minister, Michael Gove announced that 1000’s of new ventilators are being manufactured in the UK and will be delivered to the NHS next week.
  • RAF helicopters are standing by to assist the NHS.
  • NHS Medical Director, Stephen Powis, said it was ‘early days’ but there had been a plateau in the number of new cases.
  • ‘Green shoots’ that social distancing was reducing the spread but ‘not out the woods’ at all.

Latest Guidance (employment and business)

Claim for wage costs through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Claim a grant through the coronavirus (COVID-19) Self-employment Income Support Scheme

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme Guidance states as follows:-
Once HMRC have received your claim and you are eligible for the grant, they will pay it via BACS payment to a UK bank account.

You should make your claim in accordance with actual payroll amounts at the point at which you run your payroll or in advance of an imminent payroll.

You must pay the employee all the grant you receive for their gross pay, no fees can be charged from the money that is granted. You can choose to top up the employee’s salary, but you do not have to.

This suggests that employees are only entitled to the payment after it has been received by the employer.  The online service to make a claim is expected to be available by the end of April 2020.  Further guidance is needed as that would appear to contradict the spirit of the scheme.

Latest Guidance (health)
New Guidance on pregnancy and coronavirus – a Q&A published by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Royal College of Midwives and Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

Supporting disabled people through the coronavirus outbreak – A joint statement from Justin Tomlinson MP, Helen Whately MP and Vicky Ford MP outlining how the government plans to support disabled people, their carers, and their families during the coronavirus outbreak. 4:49pm, 31 March 2020

New guidance today
Coronavirus (COVID-19): free school meals guidance

We are continuing to see phrases like ‘high risk’ and ‘extremely high risk’ with incomplete examples of what this means.  The Gov guidance uses the terminology ‘vulnerable people’ and ‘extremely vulnerable people’ and the full definitions are set out below.

Guidance on social distancing for everyone in the UK
Vulnerable People

Guidance on shielding and protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable from COVID-19
What do we mean by extremely vulnerable?
People falling into this extremely vulnerable group include:

  1. Solid organ transplant recipients.
  2. People with specific cancers:
    • people with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy
    • people with lung cancer who are undergoing radical radiotherapy
    • people with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment
    • people having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
    • people having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors
    • people who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs
  3. People with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe COPD.
  4. People with rare diseases and inborn errors of metabolism that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as SCID, homozygous sickle cell).
  5. People on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection.
  6. Women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired.

We have also set out below some useful provisions from the Green Book and STPCD 2019 in relation to teachers and support staff that may be working over the next school holidays, including bank holidays.

School teachers’ pay and conditions document 2019 and guidance on school teachers’ pay and conditions
Working days
51.2. A teacher employed full-time must be available for work for 195 days, of which:
a) 190 days must be days on which the teacher may be required to teach pupils and perform other duties; and
b) 5 days must be days on which the teacher may only be required to perform other duties; and
those 195 days must be specified by the employer or, if the employer so directs, by the headteacher.

51.3. Paragraph 51.2 does not apply to a teacher employed full-time wholly or mainly to teach or perform other duties in relation to pupils in a residential establishment.

Specified working hours
51.4. The provisions of paragraphs 51.2 to 51.12 do not apply to:
a) headteachers, deputy headteachers, assistant headteachers, teachers on the pay range for leading practitioners or teachers in receipt of an acting allowance for carrying out the duties of a headteacher, deputy headteacher or assistant headteacher pursuant to paragraph 23;

51.5. A teacher employed full-time must be available to perform such duties at such times and such places as may be specified by the headteacher (or, where the teacher is not assigned to any one school, by the employer or the headteacher of any school in which the teacher may be required to work) for 1265 hours, those hours to be allocated reasonably throughout those days in the school year on which the teacher is required to be available for work.

52. Overarching rights
52.1. No teacher may be required to work on any Saturday, Sunday or public holiday unless their contract of employment expressly provides for this (for example in the case of teachers at residential establishments).

Support Staff
Green Book provision for support staff working bank holidays:-
Public and Extra Statutory Holidays
Employees required to work on a public or extra statutory holiday shall, in addition to the normal pay for that day, be paid at plain time rate for all hours worked within their normal working hours for that day. In addition, at a later date, time off with pay shall be allowed as follows:
Time worked less than half the normal working hours on that day = Half Day
Time worked more than half the normal working hours on that day = Full Day

General Guidance
The general coronavirus guidance starts here:-

James Williams – Solicitor

James Williams

I am a qualified Employment Law and HR Solicitor. I specialise in acting for schools and advise on all aspects of employment law and HR including attending employee meetings, advising senior leaders, conducting redundancy consultations, drafting contracts of employment, advising on policies and procedures and negotiating settlement agreements.