In a further measure to combat the spread of the Coiv-19 virus, the government announced the closure of all UK schools and childcare settings of Friday 20th March. They then went a step further with the announcement of the mass closure of all bars, restaurants, gyms and theatres with many other shops and stores following suit in bid to help with social distancing measures.
This coupled with many families self- isolating and a huge proportion of workers being asked to work remotely from home, has in no doubt plunged the UK’s workforce into a panic.
Many are left wondering how they are going to cope during this period if they are ill and manging childcare.
Many more are left wondering if they can’t work as they normally would through this period, will they have employment at all for much longer.
The government has urged employers not to take drastic action and begin laying off staff over fears they will be unable to pay wages whilst their businesses aren’t generating any income.
In a bid to save the UK’s workforce from mass redundancies the Chancellor Rishi Sunak has introduced a package in which businesses can apply for grants. These grants will pay 80% of their employee’s wages, capped at £2,500 a month, should they not be able to work.
These grants will be made available for all qualifying business from the end of April. This will come as great relief to employees and businesses alike, knowing that the workforce has some protection over the coming months as social distancing measures seem set to continue.
So how does this work?
In order to receive the wages grant employees who can no longer carry out their normal work duties will need to be put on furlough. This is in short a temporary leave of absence agreed by the employee and employer.
Once on furlough an employee is not permitted to work but will still receive 80% of their normal wage which is paid by the government.
Some businesses may be in a position to add the additional 20% top up so employees receive their full wage. However, this is at the discretion of the business and is not a legal requirement.
The employee does not need to do anything wages will be paid as normal and on the same date as it normally would.
Once the employee can return to normal duties the furlough ends and normal pay will resume.
This benefits package is intended to reduce pressure on businesses financially through this difficult period.
There are, however, other issues that employees will need to speak directly to their employers about.
Employees will need to check their contracts regarding their sick pay benefits. If an employee is self isolating through suspected Covid-19, has been diagnosed or is caring for a dependent and cannot work then they are entitled to sick pay.
If the employee is not entitled to contractual sick pay they can claim Statutory sick pay (SSP) this is a payment of £94.25 per week and can be claimed on the first day of illness.
Caring for children
If an employee is able to work from home but they are now also caring for children simultaneously, they should discuss the implications of this directly with their employer.
It may be necessary to implement shorter working hours and flexible working in order to manage the situation.
In cases where work cannot be completed due to childcare commitments employers must give employees time off. Though be aware, they are not forced to pay for this time.
It may be necessary for the employee to take holiday allowance to ensure they are not out of pocket.
Remember that this is an unprecedented situation so be open and honest about any issues you are having and you will find many employers are being very accommodating to this new working environment, many of them are having the same issues themselves.
Further details and help and advice can be found at