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  • Writer's pictureSusanne Joseph

It was Back to Work Wednesday.....but not for everyone...

On Sunday 10 May 2020, the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, announced that he would be easing the lockdown after 7 weeks of much of the nation having to #StayHome.

On Wednesday 13 May workers who are not able to work from home made their way back to work. This is part of the governments Covid-19 easing strategy which sees the following industries and activities reopening:

  • Manufacturing

  • Construction

  • food production,

  • logistics,

  • distribution and

  • Scientific research in laboratories.

For the avoidance of doubt the government have made it clear that this does not include the hospitality industry and non-essential retail. These will remain closed at this time.

The government have also issued a 50 page guidance document entitled OUR PLAN TO REBUILD: The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy. Essentially, the document outlines the strategy to get the country back on its feet.

So, what does the guidance say about going back to work?

The government points out that as the rate of infection may be different in different parts of the UK, this guidance should be considered alongside local public health and safety requirements for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. All workers who cannot work from home should travel to work if their workplace is open.

What the guidance does not say?

The guidance does not say that everyone who can go back to their place of work should go back to their place of work. Instead the advice remains for the “foreseeable future” that those who can continue to work from home should continue to do just that and work from home. In doing so they will be minimising

  • the number of social contacts, which will help keep transmissions as low as possible; and

  • the risk of overcrowding on transport and in public places.

Will furloughed employees under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) be required to return to work?

There will be further guidance on this in the new “Covid-19 Secure” guidelines which we are told are soon to be published. The guidance is aimed at helping businesses and workers ensure the risk of infection is as low as possible, while allowing as many people as possible to resume their livelihoods.

Will furlough still be available during the governments “Plan to Rebuild”?

Yes, says Rishi Sunak who announced on Tuesday 12 May that the CJRS will be extended for four months until the end of October 2020.

There is also a plan from August to October 2020 for furloughed employees to be brought back part time. Details of how this will work in practice will be published at the end of May.

Garden House Solicitors have remained open for business during the lockdown and will continue to provide quality legal services during Covid-19 easing. Our employment department is here to answer all employment law queries for both employers and employees. Look out for regular updates here on our website and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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