Lockdown 2: What employers need to know

There’s set to be a national lockdown in England from 5 November 2020 until 2 December. But what does it mean for employers? Kate Palmer, HR Advice and Consultancy Director at Peninsula, offers advice to businesses.

Lockdown 2 England Employer Advise

When does Lockdown 2 start in England?

In England, there will be a national lockdown from 5 November 2020 until 2 December, as announced by the Prime Minister on 31 October.

It will require many businesses to close temporarily, including all non-essential retail and hospitality businesses. Some exceptions will apply, however, such as supermarkets and certain other retailers providing essential goods and services, who will not be asked to close. Non-essential venues can also deliver and/or provide collection/takeaway services.

Can employers use the furlough scheme?

While the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) was meant to end on 31 October 2020, it will now be extended until March 2021. Although this lockdown only applies to England, the CJRS will continue for all UK nations, meaning that the Job Support Scheme (JSS), which was meant to begin on 1 November, will be postponed until the end of the CJRS.

The government has reverted to the original structure of the CJRS, with some slight differences:

  • employers will be able to place their staff on furlough and claim 80% of their salary up to a cap of £2,500 per month per employee
  • the difference is that employers will be asked to contribute National Insurance and Pensions contributions whilst they claim under the CJRS
  • flexible furlough is also being extended so employees can work some hours and have their unworked hours covered by the grant

To be eligible now for the extended CJRS, employers do not need to have used the CJRS before; employees need only have been on their PAYE payroll by 23:59 on 30 October. This means a Real-Time Information submission notifying payment for that employee to HMRC must have been made on or before 30 October 2020.

Further updates are expected soon.

Is there financial support for businesses who need to close due to restrictions?

Employers small or large, charitable or non-profit are eligible for government support if they have been affected by the latest restrictions. There is a full range of business support measures which have been made available to UK businesses affected by COVID-19, including:

  • deferral of VAT payments
  • business rates relief
  • grants from the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

Are employees allowed in workplaces?

If you live in England, you must work from home if you can. For non-essential offices, this means that all employees who can work from home will need to be permitted to.

However, there should be special consideration made for clinically vulnerable and extremely vulnerable people. For the latter group, the Prime Minister has said that they should not go to work even if they cannot work from home. Further information is expected as to whether Statutory Sick Pay will apply in this situation.

While the latest lockdown may not be welcome news for employers, they will presumably have responded to this call back in March and may, this time, be in a more prepared position to react to it.

About the author

Kate Palmer is HR Advice and Consultancy Director at global employment law consultancy at Peninsula.

See also

Wales 'fire-break' lockdown: What employers need to know

What you need to know about the Job Support Scheme

Kickstart Scheme - what employers need to know

What is flexible working?

What you need to know about the new flexible furlough rules

Find out more

New National Restrictions from 5 November (GOV.UK)

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (GOV.UK)

Financial support for businesses during coronavirus (COVID-19) (GOV.UK)

Apply for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (GOV.UK)

Statutory Sick Pay (GOV.UK)

Image: Getty Images

Publication updated: 5 November 2020

Any opinion expressed in this article is that of the author and the author alone, and does not necessarily represent that of The Gazette.