Covid-19 – Latest Guidance from the Government – 6.00pm 15th April 2020

James Williams

Main points from today
  • Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, led the briefing today.
  • Too early to make changes to lockdown arrangements.
  • Chief Medical Officer, Chris Whitty, said ‘we are probably reaching the peak of new cases, we are not past the peak.’
  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme rules published (see below).
Latest Guidance (employment and business)
Claim for your employees’ wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – updated at 1.39pm today.  Major change is the date that a furloughed employee had to be on a payroll is now 19th March 2020.  Previously this was 28th February 2020.

The Chancellor has made a Treasury Direction in relation to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.  Treasury Direction made under Sections 71 and 76 of the Coronavirus Act 2020
Basically, these are the formal rules of the CJRS.  The important points are:-

  • ‘An employee has been instructed by the employer to cease all work in relation to their employment only if the employer and employee have agreed in writing (which may be in an electronic form such as an email) that the employee will cease all work in relation to their employment.’ – Previously, the requirement was for the employee to be notified in writing that they have been furloughed.  Now an employer and employee must agree that the employee will cease all work.
  • Calculation is based on regular salary which:-
    • cannot vary according to performance of the employer or employee or is discretionary (such as a tip),
    • is not conditional on any matter,
    • is not a benefit of any other kind.
  • Furloughed Directors can only perform very basic director duties ‘arising by or under an Act of Parliament relating to the filing of company accounts or provision of other information relating to the administration of the director’s company.’
  • No mention of whether the furlough payment can be used to discharge a payment in relation to holidays.
Claim a grant through the coronavirus (COVID-19) Self-employment Income Support Scheme
Further details were updated yesterday.  The online service that will be used to claim is not available yet. HMRC will aim to contact individuals by mid May 2020, and will make payments by early June 2020.

Latest Guidance (health)
No new guidance today.

Ofqual seeks views on GCSE and A level grading proposals for 2020 – Consultation published on exceptional arrangements for awarding GCSEs, AS, A levels, Extended Project Qualification and Advanced Extension Award in maths.  4:46pm, 15 April 2020.

Not new guidance but worth repeating:-
Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for schools about temporarily closing
Who can work in schools in light of recent social distancing measures?
We have published separate guidance on implementing social distancing measures in education and childcare settings.

Should school staff with an underlying health condition stay at home?
Our guidance on implementing social distancing measures in education and childcare settings sets out that staff with conditions that mean they are at increased risk of serious illness as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19), such as those who are pregnant, should work from home where possible, and education and childcare settings should endeavour to support this.

Should staff with serious underlying health conditions, which put them at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19), stay at home and take shielding measures?
We are strongly advising people, including education staff, with serious underlying health conditions which put them at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19), such as solid organ transplant recipients, and people with specific cancers, to rigorously follow shielding measures in order to keep themselves safe. Staff in this position must not attend work. More advice on this can be found in the guidance on shielding and protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable.

Should staff who live with someone with a serious underlying health condition, who is taking shielding measures, stay at home?
If a member of staff lives with someone in a vulnerable health group, including those who are pregnant, they can attend their education or childcare setting. The number of social interactions in the education or childcare environment will be reduced, due to there being fewer children attending, and social distancing and good hand hygiene being practised.

If a member of staff lives in a household with someone who is in the most vulnerable health groups, as set out in the guidance on shielding, they should only attend work if stringent social distancing can be adhered to. Settings should allow staff who live with someone in the most vulnerable health groups to work from home where possible.

The general school guidance starts here:-
Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for schools and other educational settings

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.