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Covid-19 Updates

As we are all struggling with a new ‘normal’, the guidance we are provided with can be somewhat confusing at times. So what exactly are the latest updates and what do they mean for you as a business?

Coronavirus symptoms and testing

Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus should not attend work. They should immediately self-isolate at home and get a test. You should not arrange for testing unless you develop symptoms of COVID-19. The most important symptoms are:

  • a new continuous cough,
  • a high temperature,
  • a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell.

If the employee has a negative test they can return to work as normal.

If the employee has a positive test, any other member of staff who has come into contact with the infected person must isolate for 14 days. The 14 days should start from the last day they had contact with the person who tested positive. Here are some examples as to what is classed as contact:

  • close face to face contact (under 1 metre) for any length of time – including talking to them or coughing on them
  • being within 1 to 2 metres of each other for more than 15 minutes – including travelling in a small vehicle

Certain businesses   such as those in the hospitality sector must keep up to date record of all who enter their premises to adhere with the NHS test and trace

If you have been informed that you are a contact of a person who has had a positive test result for COVID-19, you must self-isolate at home for 14 days from the date of your last contact with them.

Coronavirus sick pay rebate scheme

Employers can claim back up to 2 weeks of SSP if:

  • you have already paid your employee’s sick pay
  • you’re claiming for an employee who’s eligible for sick pay due to coronavirus
  • you have a PAYE payroll scheme that was created and started on or before 28 February 2020
  • you had fewer than 250 employees on 28 February 2020 across all your PAYE payroll schemes

Employees do not have to give you a doctor’s fit note for you to make a claim. But you can ask them to give you either:

  • an isolation note from NHS 111 – if they are self-isolating and cannot work because of coronavirus
  • the NHS or GP letter telling them to stay at home for at least 12 weeks because they’re at high risk of severe illness from coronavirus

You can claim back from both the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme for the same employee but not for the same period of time.

Some people entering or returning to the UK will be required to quarantine for 14 days. If an employee is unable to work during this period, they will not qualify for SSP unless they also meet one of the following criteria.

  • have coronavirus symptoms
  • are self-isolating because someone they live with has symptoms
  • are self-isolating because they’ve been notified by the NHS or public health bodies that they’ve come into contact with someone with coronavirus
  • are shielding and have a letter from the NHS or a GP telling them to stay at home for at least 12 weeks
  • have been notified by the NHS to self-isolate before surgery for up to 14 days

More information about the sick pay rebate scheme can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-back-statutory-sick-pay-paid-to-employees-due-to-coronavirus-covid-19

Job Support Scheme

The job support scheme was announced last week and is designed to protect viable jobs in businesses who are facing lower demand over the winter months due to Covid-19, to help keep their employees attached to the workforce. The scheme will open on 1 November 2020 and run for 6 months.

The employee must work at least 33% of their usual hours. Everyone is eligible for the scheme as long as they were on payroll on or before 23 September 2020, even if you have not previously claimed furlough for them.

Please refer to the job support scheme factsheet for further information: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/921389/Job_Support_Scheme_Factsheet.pdf

If you need help and advice on this topic, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0113 350 4030 or at hello@scesolicitors.co.uk.

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Jennifer Hoult
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