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Employment Alert-Emergency legislation for the second lockdown
Posted on: 05/11/2020
Emergency legislation for the second lockdown
The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No 4) Regulations 2020 have now been published and are due to come into force tomorrow, 5 November 2020.
The Regulations confirm that it will be a criminal offence for people to leave their home ‘without reasonable excuse’. There are a number of exceptions which would constitute a ‘reasonable excuse’, including for the purposes of work where it is not ‘reasonably possible’ to work from home.
Why is this important?
The ‘reasonably possible’ requirement is different to the previous Government guidance which stated that if you could work ‘effectively’ from home you must do so. In our opinion this creates a higher hurdle for employees and employers alike to justify going into the workplace where they can work from home.
The Regulations also refer to workplace gatherings (two or more people in the same place) where these are ‘reasonably necessary’. In light of the Regulations, the possibility for workplace gatherings will be significantly limited and are likely to only take place where employees are continuing to go into the workplace.
The Regulations also clarify which businesses need to close down during the lockdown which include pubs, restaurants etc.
The penalties for non-compliance are laid out in the Regulations which include criminal liability for the company and the employee.
What should you do?
- Review whether it is ‘reasonably possible’ for employees to work from home. If it is, then all such employees should work from home from 5 November 2020 until at least 2 December 2020.
- If employers are requiring employees to come into work, we recommend that employers consider and note down why this is. Employees may be needed for some but not all of the time, this should also be considered and noted.
- Open workplaces must be COVID-secure in line with Government guidelines.
If an employee refuses to attend the workplace, take quality legal advice before taking any steps to force the employee to do so.
- Consider whether the Furlough scheme can be used during the period of lockdown if necessary.
If you need more information please contact us on 0800 2800 421 or email [email protected] to find out how we can help.
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