Coronavirus Employment Update 12/6/2020

Posted in : Supplementary Articles NI on 12 June 2020
Legal Island
Legal Island
Issues covered:

Business Reopening 

All non-essential retailers can reopen in Northern Ireland from Today, Stormont's economy minister has said.  Pressure had been building on Stormont ministers to name a date, as only large retailers and shops in retail parks could open from Monday 8th June.  In the Republic of Ireland, all high street shops resumed business on Monday.  Diane Dodds said the executive will discuss when shopping centres can reopen later this week.  Ministers met on Monday and agreed to the further changes for retailers.  More from the BBC:

Presidential Direction - Industrial Tribunals and Fair Employment Tribunal

The President of the Industrial Tribunals and Fair Employment Tribunals has directed that as the Tribunals’ building remains closed and, pending the completion of preparations for remote hearings, all Final Hearings and Preliminary Hearings to determine matters such as jurisdictional issues or whether a deposit order should be made, which are currently listed from 1 July 2020 to 30 October 2020, are now postponed with immediate effect on foot of this Presidential Direction. Click on the link below to open the guidance:

Stormont Ministers Agree More Lockdown Easing 

Some of the measures agreed by the executive take effect from Friday 12 June.  Groups of up to 10 people who do not live together can meet outdoors, maintaining social distancing.  Ministers recognised there was a "strong desire to return to normal life", said Mrs Foster.  All non-essential retail is due to open from Friday, but shopping centres will now also be permitted to open.  From Friday, places of worship and community centres can facilitate childcare for people who will have to return to work.  But ministers are carrying out work on reopening the childcare sector, with more details to be announced after discussions with the Department of Health on Friday.  Earlier this week, guidance for childminders and day care centres during the pandemic was published.  But some childminders have expressed concerns about plans for the sector, as more people with children prepare to return to their jobs.  Ms O'Neill also said work was under way to see if the executive could, from next week, begin to provide indicative dates for other sectors to reopen.   More from the BBC:


Schools Reopening 

The Education Minister has set a target date of Monday 17 August for some pupils to return to school.  Peter Weir said those going into primary seven and about to sit GCSEs and A-Levels should be back then.  Mr Weir gave the date during an online meeting hosted by the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT).  He had previously said some pupils would return to school in late August but had not given a specific date.  Mr Weir took a number of questions during the online meeting with hundreds of teachers, where he was asked about his plans for schools re-opening.  More from the BBC: 

Legislative Changes

Travel Restrictions etc:

Sport, Childcare and Single Person Changes etc:

Redundancy and Restructuring 

Legal Island are hosting an online workshop ‘Redundancy & Reorganisation in NI’ on 30th June to benefit employers who may be faced with redundancy or reorganisation decisions in the near future. The workshop will be led by expert speakers Gareth Walls & Shirley Blair from A&L Goodbody and attendees will be provided with support papers, including precedent checklists and documents, and a free, confidential consultation from a member of the A&L Goodbody Employment and Incentives team. You can view more information on this workshop here.

Best Case Scenario Not Disclosed 

NI's health minister decided not to make public the best-case scenario laid out in pandemic modelling, a BBC Spotlight investigation has revealed.  A leaked executive document showed that Robin Swann chose to keep the scenario secret to try to ensure public adherence to the lockdown.  On 1 April, Mr Swann shared some of what new scientific modelling of the pandemic said.  It was that 3,000 people could die in a "reasonable worst-case scenario".  What Mr Swann did not say was that the modellers put the best-case scenario at just 250 deaths.  More from the BBC:

Employee Surveillance Legal During Lockdown 

We reported last week on a piece of software called 'Sneek' that is being used for monitoring employees working remotely.  This article from the CIPD considers the legal implications of monitoring employees during lockdown.

Furlough and Employed Prisoners 

The Howard League has fought for many years to promote the notion of real work in prisons and to support prisoners to get jobs from open conditions and on release. This is the best way to help people live law-abiding lives on release and to contribute to society by working, paying tax and helping their families.  In this blog Frances Crook explains why employed prisoners are entitled to also be eligible for furlough.

Beyond lockdown in Northern Ireland 

To guide employers as they prepare to address the challenges ahead, Eversheds Sutherland have published a four part series of briefings and webinars. They are: 

1. Reopening workplaces: returning to work safely

2. Preserving organisations: redundancies in a virtual world

3. New ways of working: adapting the workplace and changing terms and conditions

4. Dealing with the fallout from the pandemic: rescuing businesses and disputes 

The link below will take you to Part 4 - Dealing with the Fallout.  The publications and webinars for Parts 1-3 are available via links in the Part 4 article. 


This article is correct at 12/06/2020

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

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