The government has announced that new national lockdown restrictions will come into force across England from Thursday 5 November 2020. At this stage, it is envisaged that these restrictions will last for 4 weeks until 2 December; however, many are already predicting that the restrictions will be extended beyond this date.
What do the new lockdown restrictions mean?
People are required to stay at home, except for specific purposes such as education, work, childcare and supporting a vulnerable person
Everyone who can work from home must do so
Those that are clinically extremely vulnerable and cannot work from home, are advised not to go to work
Certain businesses and venues must close or offer limited services, for instance:
o All non-essential retail businesses must close, except for click & collect or delivery services
o Indoor and outdoor leisure facilities such as gyms; entertainment venues such as cinemas; and personal care facilities such as hairdressers, must close
Household mixing indoors and outdoors is banned
Education settings such as schools, colleges and universities will remain open
What about the hospitality sector?
Although hospitality venues including restaurants, bars and pubs must close, they may continue to provide takeaway and delivery services. Takeaway of alcohol is not permitted.
Hotels, hostels and other accommodation should only open for those who have to travel for work purposes and for a limited number of other exemptions. A full list of the business closures is expected to be published by the government shortly.
What financial support is available?
To support businesses and workers through this lockdown the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has been extended and flexible furloughing will be allowed in addition to full-time furloughing.
This means that:
the government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 for hours not worked by the employee
the employer will pay employer National Insurance Contributions (NICs) and pension contributions for the hours the employee does not work, and make the usual deductions for any hours the employee works if flexible furlough applies
employers will be able to agree any working arrangements with employees and should continue to pay employees in the normal way for the hours they work (the monthly furlough wage cap is reduced in proportion to hours actually worked)
employers are able to choose to top up employee wages above the scheme grant at their own expense, if they wish
all employers, regardless of size, with a UK bank account and UK PAYE scheme can claim the grant
neither the employer or the employee needs to have previously used the furlough scheme
the Job Support Scheme (JSS) will come into effect after the end of the furlough scheme (which will depend on the length of the lockdown)
business premises forced to close in England are to receive grants worth up to £3,000 per month under the Local Restrictions Support Grant
Further detailed guidance on the CJRS is expected shortly, including when claims can first be made in respect of employee wage costs during November. There will be no gap in eligibility for support between the previously announced end-date of CJRS (i.e. 31 October) and this extension.
You will need to ensure that you have a furlough agreement in place with any employees your business is placing on furlough or flexible furlough, which sets out the variation to their terms and conditions of employment.
Our Employment Team is ready to support and advise your business through these very challenging times. Please get in touch with your usual 3CS contact for further information.