21 January 2021

Covid-19 and the work environment

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has now been extended until 30 April 2021.  Any employee can now be furloughed, and the Government has changed the guidance to make it clear that anyone who is shielding or who cannot work because their children are not at school, may be furloughed.  Links below are to the latest guidance from the Government (always check you are looking at the latest version – there have been somewhere in the region of 150 updates to the CJRS guidance so far!).

Working safely – last updated 7 Jan 2021 https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19?priority-taxon=774cee22-d896-44c1-a611-e3109cce8eae

CJRS general guidance for employers – last updated 23 December 2020 https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme#who-can-claim

CJRS – how to claim for wages, with links to each step including calculation – last updated 23 December 2020 https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wages-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

As vaccinations continue to roll out at pace, we are receiving lots of queries about whether an employer can require employees to be vaccinated.  As you might expect, the answer is, it depends!  Such decisions are always going to be case-sensitive, but the following factors will determine whether such a requirement is reasonable:

  • the nature of your business and the employee’s activities
  • the employee’s reason for refusal
  • the alternative steps you could take to keep the employee, their colleagues, and other parties safe.

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