In Brief: Important Updates from April 2020

Posted in : Supplementary Articles NI on 4 May 2020
Legal Island
Legal Island
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As talk of lifting of Covid-19 restrictions starts in earnest we thought we bring you some of the best current resources to help aid in your understanding of the employment implications of the Coronavirus. 

Job Retention Scheme

The HMRC JRS guidance is continually updated to provide clarification on issues arising and to provide you with the most up to date guidance.  The online portal opened on the 20th April to more than 185,000 claims on the first day.  In general, news from employers regarding the application process had been positive with some employers receiving payments through last week.  You may wish to listen again to our most recent webinar with Seamus McGranaghan, O’Reilly Stewart Solicitors and Scott Alexander, Legal Island, as they discuss the many queries arising from the Job Retention Scheme

You may also be interested in a recent article from Ciara Fulton, Jones Cassidy Brett, in which she compares the Job Retention Scheme and the Irish Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme – a must read for those with sites north and south of the border.

Jack Balmer, Tughans, provides guidance on vulnerable workers and furlough.  While there have been calls for the furlough scheme to be more flexible and to be extended to September, one assumes that any extension to the scheme will be dependent on the Government Roadmap to be announced on Sunday 10th May.  We wonder if it will mirror some of the stipulations outlined in the 5 phase approach adopted in Ireland.

Family Related Employment Rights

Economy Minister Diane Dodds and Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey announced changes to regulations which mean that people who are entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay, Statutory Paternity Pay, Statutory Adoption Pay and Statutory Shared Parental Pay will not be disadvantaged if they are furloughed.

Remote Working

Getting prepared for getting back to work is at the forefront of Coronavirus planning and this excellent resource from the CIPD outlines useful guidance on what you need to think about in getting employees back to the workplace. Government guidance may recommend that a number of employees continue to work from home where possible and we know that for some employees this can be challenging.  We have a series of webinars looking at how to maximise productivity, create engagement and improve communication with remote workers.  You can register for these webinars here.  Olga Pollock has penned some very useful advice for how to make homeworking and home-schooling work – no mean feat, while Leeanne Armstrong, TLT solicitors, provides a much needed guide to policies and procedures relevant to Covid-19.  Remember that now is a good time to put employees through essential training and Legal Island has a range of e-learning courses that are user friendly and comprehensive.

Physical and Mental Health

Emer Hinphey, Think People discusses the importance of harnessing positive psychology in times of change and remember that these short yoga practices by Lisa Copeland provide the perfect anti-stress remedy as it is important to stay calm amidst all the chaos and take some time out to relax and destress. Our recent webinar with Louise McAloon and Dr Philip McCrea provides some very useful tips for promoting good mental health in the workplace (and remote working) and managing absence during these confusing times.  You can listen again here.

Data Protection

Victoria Logan, Allstate NI provides some really helpful tips for keeping your children safe online as they are likely to be spending more time online during the pandemic.  Ensuring that adherence to Data Protection Legislation is maintained during remote working is essential and our recent webinar with Laura Gillespie, Pinsent Masons provides some good practice guidance on how to continue to protect sensitive personal data.  The Information Commissioner has compiled a helpful number of FAQ’s on data protection implications of the Coronavirus.

Remember you can find all of our key coronavirus updates in our resources section of our employment law hub


This article is correct at 04/05/2020

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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