What payroll professionals need to know about the new lockdown restrictions

P. Simon Parsons - 2 November 2020 - Reading time: 5 Minutes

HR Legislation

On Saturday 31st October, Boris Johnson announced new lockdown restrictions affecting the UK in response to increasing Coronavirus cases.

The Prime Minister, Chief Medical Officer, Chief Scientific Advisor and the Cabinet all agreed that tougher restrictions were the only way to handle the soaring cases of the virus. Belgium, France, Germany and other countries have already put in place national restrictions, following earlier local measures.

What measures will be introduced?

From Thursday 5th November, everyone must stay at home and may leave only for a limited set of reasons. These include:

  • For education.
  • For work, if you cannot work from home.
  • For exercise and recreation outdoors, with your household, support bubble or on your own with one person from another household.
  • For all medical reasons, appointments and to escape injury or harm.
  • To shop for food and essentials.
  • To provide care for vulnerable people, or as a volunteer.

Single-adult households will still be able to form an exclusive support bubble with one other household, and children can move between homes if their parents are separated.

Shielding as practised in the spring will not currently be reintroduced. The clinically vulnerable, or those over the age of 60, should be especially careful to follow the rules and minimise contacts with others. Those who are clinically extremely vulnerable should not only minimise their contacts with others, but also not go to work if they are unable to work from home.

What type of businesses will close?

Shops that are deemed 'non-essential', leisure and entertainment venues will be closed. Click and collect services can continue and essential shops, including supermarkets, will remain open. Pubs, bars and restaurants will close, except for takeaway and delivery services. Public services, such as job centres, courts and civil registration offices will remain open.

Will offices remain open during the new lockdown?

The government has advised that people should work from home wherever possible. Workplaces should stay open if people cannot work from home. For example, in the construction or manufacturing industries.

Will travel be allowed?

People cannot travel internationally or within the UK, unless for work, education or other legally permitted exemptions. Overnight stays away from primary residences will not be allowed, except for specific exceptions including for work.

Inbound international travel will continue to be governed by the travel corridor approach, and those currently on a domestic holiday will be allowed to finish their holidays but are still subject to the requirements in England not to go out without a reasonable excuse.

What will stay open?

The Prime Minister and Education Secretary have said keeping young people in education is a national priority so early years settings, schools, colleges and universities will all remain open. However, universities and adult learning providers should consider increasing online provision where possible.

Parents will still be able to access registered childcare and other childcare activities to enable parents to work. Parents are also able to form a childcare bubble with another household for the purposes of informal childcare, where the child is 13 or under.

Ministers are also clear that it is vital to keep the provision for non-Covid healthcare needs going. Unless clinicians tell patients otherwise, they should continue to use the NHS, get scans and other tests, turn up for all appointments and collect medicines and treatments.

What do the new restrictions mean for payroll?

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), known as the furlough scheme, will remain open until December, with employees receiving 80% of their current salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500. The cost for employers of retaining workers will be reduced compared to the former scheme, which ended on Saturday 31st October.

The new scheme can also be applied to employees not previously furloughed, and any employee who has been reported to HMRC up to Friday 30th October 2020 who may not have previously qualified.

Just as payroll and HR professionals get up to speed with the new Job Support Scheme, the government brings back the CJRS. As always, payroll and HR departments need to stay vigilant to new information coming in the next week and ensure that they are documenting all changes to create a clear audit trail.

We're here for you 

We're here to support you and your business through these challenging times. If you have any questions about the new regulations, please join us for our monthly Payroll Question Time virtual event, where a panel of payroll, HR, law and policy experts will be discussing the latest changes to ensure you stay accurate and compliant. 

 

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