The coronavirus pandemic in 2020 has resulted in employment law changes to sick pay rules and annual leave. Workplaces must be made COVID-secure.
Statutory Sick Pay
The law on Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) has been changed to cover people who self-isolate because of coronavirus, and to make it payable from the first day of a period of entitlement in those cases.
The Statutory Sick Pay (Coronavirus) (Suspension of Waiting Days and General Amendment) Regulations 2020 came into force on 28 March 2020 and suspended the limitation, set out in section 155(1) of the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992, that Statutory Sick Pay is not payable for the first three qualifying days in a period of entitlement.
They also amended the Statutory Sick Pay (General) Regulations 1982 to specify when a person isolating because of coronavirus is deemed to be incapable of work, by inserting a schedule which specifies when a person is deemed to be incapable of work because the person is staying at home.
If you are are self-isolating because of coronavirus, there is more information about the number of days for which you may be paid SSP here:
Information about SSP (gov.uk)
The Working Time Regulations were with effect from 28 March 2020 amended to allow annual leave to be carried over into the next 2 years to allow employers and employees more flexibility.
Health And Safety
Employers have a legal duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all their employees.
An employer who fails to ensure safety by following the Government advice and guidance regarding the possibility of its workers being infected by COVID-19 risks being in breach of statutory and common law duties.
The Health and Safety Executive has published guidance for employers on carrying out risk assessments to ensure they are doing what is necessary:
There is industry-specific guidance to making workplaces COVID-secure here:
Job Retention Scheme
The UK Government introduced its Job Retention Scheme enabling some employers, whose businesses had to close due to the restrictions introduced to combat COVID-19, to claim a grant to cover a proportion of the wages of employees who had been “furloughed” or not required to work because there was no work for them.
The scheme was closed to new entrants from 30 June 2020 and the level of grant was reduced from 1 September 2020. It is due to close on 31 October 2020.
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