Covid-19 – Latest Guidance from the Government – 6.00pm 6th April 2020

James Williams

Main points from today

  • Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, led the briefing today.
  • PM remains in hospital as a precautionary step with continuing symptoms of a temperature and cough but continues to lead the Government.
  • 51,608 positive cases, 17,911 patients being treated in hospital, 5,373 deaths up 439 from yesterday.  Too soon to see the effects of social distancing on these figures.
  • Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, joined the briefing after returning from self-isolation and confirmed it was not appropriate to discuss relaxing social distancing measurers until after we are past the peak.

Latest Guidance (employment and business)
Claim for your employees’ wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme was updated in the morning of Saturday 4th April 2020.

  • An employee can be furloughed and (with agreement of existing employer) go and work for another employer and be paid.  So, an employee could earn 80% (max £2,500) of their old salary and 100% of a new one.
  • An employer can reclaim ‘80% of any regular payments you are obliged to pay your employees. This includes wages, past overtime, fees and compulsory commission payments. However, discretionary bonus (including tips) and commission payments and non-cash payments (car, health etc) should be excluded.’ The previous guidance said ‘fees, commission and bonuses should not be included.’
  • Still uncertainty over whether a sick employee can be furloughed:-

If your employee is self-isolating or on sick leave
If you’re employee is on sick leave or self-isolating, they’ll be able to get Statutory Sick Pay.

You cannot claim for employees while they’re getting Statutory Sick Pay, but they can be furloughed and claimed for once they are no longer receiving Statutory Sick Pay.

Shielding Employees
You can claim for furloughed employees who are shielding in line with public health guidance (or need to stay home with someone who is shielding) if they are unable to work from home and you would otherwise have to make them redundant.

If Contingent Workers are unable to work due to COVID-19, for example, due to sickness, self-isolation, or the temporary closure of offices, they should be paid at 80% of their pay rate up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.

  • Company directors (even sole directors) can be furloughed. They can still perform their statutory duties, but not other work for the company.
  • Still no guidance on annual leave, although the Contingent workers in the public sector guidance which applies to Government Departments and is recommended for Local Authorities states ‘The £2,500 per month cap relates to gross pay, excluding statutory costs such as NI, holiday pay, apprenticeship levy and pension, and supplier margin.’  This guidance is for all Central Government Departments, their Executive Agencies and Non Departmental Public Bodies with other public sector contracting authorities (i.e. Local authorities) encouraged to follow.  It is important to note that this public sector guidance does not form part of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme guidance, but, if followed, would mean employers could not use the furlough payment to offset holiday pay.

Claim a grant through the coronavirus (COVID-19) Self-employment Income Support Scheme
No further guidance today.

Latest Guidance (health)
Nothing new today online.

Nothing new today after it was announced late on Friday (last day for many schools) that Free School Meal provision would continue over the holidays.

General 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.