Coronavirus Employment Update 15/5/2020

Posted in : Supplementary Articles NI on 15 May 2020
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Issues covered:

Job Retention Scheme - Update 

The UK scheme to pay wages of workers on leave because of coronavirus will be extended to October, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said.  He said the government backed workers and companies going into the lockdown, and would support them coming out.  Mr Sunak confirmed that employees will continue to receive 80% of their monthly wages up to £2,500.  But he said the government will ask companies to "start sharing" the cost of the scheme from August.  

Mr Sunak rejected suggestions some people might get "addicted" to furlough if it was extended.  Some 7.5 million workers are now covered by the scheme, up from 6.3 million last week, he said.  The chancellor told the Commons that from August, the scheme would continue for all sectors and regions of the country but with greater flexibility to support the transition back to work, he said.  Employers currently using the scheme would be able to bring furloughed employees back part-time.  More from the BBC: 

Holiday Entitlement And Pay During Coronavirus (COVID-19) 

An explanation of how holiday entitlement and pay operate during the coronavirus pandemic, where it differs from the standard holiday entitlement and pay guidance.  The guidance has no legal effect, however, and tribunals will not be required to follow it when deciding working time and holiday pay cases.  This applies to GB only. 

Guidance for Northern Ireland on Holidays from NI Business Info here:

Union Sues UK Government Over Failure To Protect Millions Of Precarious Workers 

Law Firm Leigh Day has filed a legal challenge against the UK government, on behalf of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) and two Uber drivers, over its failure to extend income and sickness protection to large sections of workers during the coronavirus pandemic.  The union, of which the drivers are members, argues that protection provided by the government’s proposed Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) is significantly worse than that provided to employees through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (JRS). 

The SEISS will only be introduced in June and excludes a number of workers including those that became self-employed after 6 April 2019 and any who earn less than 50 per cent of their income from self-employment. It also does not cover on-going overheads.  The claimants also say £95.85 per week Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) discriminates against women, BAME workers and gig economy workers, arguing these payments are not enough to survive on, or in some cases are not available.

More here:

Which Occupations Have The Highest Potential Exposure To The Coronavirus (COVID-19)? 

People working in social care in England and Wales have been twice as likely to die with coronavirus as the general working-age population, Office for National Statistics figures show.  But healthcare workers have been no more likely to die than other workers.  Nearly two-thirds of the 2,494 20- to 64-year-olds whose deaths were linked to Covid-19 were men.  And 63 were male security guards, making them almost twice as likely to die as even men working in social care. 

The ONS analysis, up to 20 April, factored in age but did not take account of people's ethnicity, location, wealth or underlying health conditions.  As a result, it cannot prove the deaths were caused by the jobs people do or by other factors.  Being male, from a black, Asian or ethnic minority background and having other health problems are factors known to increase the risk of dying from Covid-19.

More on this from the BBC:    

ONS Analysis:    

Coronavirus: How Exposed is Your Job? 

The BBC has a neat little algorithm that works out how dangerous your job might be in relation to coronavirus exposure and then ranks your occupation against exposure to disease and closeness to other persons. Try it - you know you want to: 

Government has Failed Low Skilled Workers, Who are Most Likely to Die 

Commenting on ONS figures showing that workers in low-skilled jobs are the most likely to die after contracting Covid-19, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: 

“These figures demonstrate that the government is failing on workplace safety – with horrific consequences for our lowest-paid and most precarious workers.“We need an immediate change of direction. Ministers must urgently introduce tough new rules on workplace safety and make sure they’re enforced.
“This can’t wait any longer. Workers’ lives are on the line.”

More here:

How Do The UK Nations Differ Over Easing Lockdown? 

The Government has spoken of a "four-nations approach" to tackling the coronavirus crisis - where each UK country would ideally follow the same path and timings back to post-lockdown normality.   But there have been signs of tensions between Downing Street and the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland - with warnings over "mixed messages" to the public.  This article takes a look at what steps each country is taking. 

40% Of Ryanair Flights To Resume From July 1 

Ryanair is to resume operating up to 40% of its normal flight schedule from July 1.  The move is subject to restrictions on flights between EU countries being lifted and public health measures being put in place in airports.  In total the airline says it will run nearly 1,000 flights across 90% of the network it was operating prior to the Covid-19 crisis beginning.  The operations will take place from most of the company's 80 bases across Europe, although frequencies will be lower than previously on main routes.  This is to allow the airline get services back up and running on the largest possible number of routes, rather than high frequency on a smaller number.

More from RTE: 

Beyond lockdown in Northern Ireland

Eversheds Sutherland are producing a 4-part series of briefings and webinars on the following topics: 

1. reopening workplaces: returning to work safely
2. preserving organisations: redundancies and restructuring 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

More here:

Twitter Allows Staff To Work From Home 'Forever' 

Twitter has told staff that they can work from home "forever" if they wish as the company looks towards the future after the coronavirus pandemic.  The decision came as the social media giant said its work-from-home measures during the lockdown had been a success.  But it also said it would allow workers to return to the office if they choose when it reopens.  Earlier this month Google and Facebook said their staff can work from home until the end of the year.

More on this from the BBC:

Are Children Reactive to Coronavirus? 

Scores of UK and US children have been affected by a rare inflammatory disease linked to coronavirus.  A number of children have also been diagnosed with the disease - which can cause symptoms similar to toxic shock syndrome - elsewhere in Europe.  Up to 100 UK children have been affected. Some have needed intensive care while others recovered quickly.  In April, NHS doctors were told to look out for a rare but dangerous reaction in children.  This was prompted by eight children becoming ill in London, including a 14-year-old who died.  Doctors said all eight children had similar symptoms when they were admitted to Evelina London Children's Hospital, including a high fever, rash, red eyes, swelling and general pain.  More here:

Important update notice - COVID-19 Interim Payment Scheme - Legal Aid Suppliers 

The COVID-19 Interim Payment Scheme went live on 7 May 2020.  Details of the Scheme can be found within ‘LSA 05-2020’ on the ‘Circulars 2020’ page and the enabling ‘Direction’ within the ‘Legislation and guidance’ page of the LSANI website.  As at the close of business on 11 May 2020, the Agency had processed 264 requests under the Scheme. Of these requests 191 have been authorised and payments issued for £90,296.70. A further 73 requests were rejected as they failed to satisfy the qualifying period and conditions of the Scheme. The value of the rejected requests was £38,706.  More here:

Barristers at Risk 

Most Northern Ireland barristers will be unable to sustain their practice if there is no increase in court business or additional government support by September, a new survey suggests.  A survey carried out by The Bar of Northern Ireland in April, with responses from nearly two-thirds (60 per cent) of barristers, has highlighted the profound impact of COVID-19 on the independent Bar despite efforts to keep the justice system moving with remote court hearings.  Nearly a quarter of barristers (24 per cent) say they have no work at all, while more than half (53 per cent) say they are doing less than 10 per cent of their normal work volume.  More from Irish Legal:  


This article is correct at 15/05/2020

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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