On 25th March 2020, the Coronavirus Act 2020 made it into the statute books. The Act will enforce the UK’s response to the current challenges the economy is experiencing.
It covers 5 key areas:
- Emergency staffing to increase the health and social care workforce;
- Technology and equipment aimed at easing the burden on frontline staff;
- Containing and slowing the virus (through powers to limit or suspend unnecessary social contacts and disperse gatherings);
- Managing the deceased with respect and dignity;
- Supporting people, generally.
What are your responsibilities as an employer?
With working from home being recommended by the Government to assist with social distancing and protecting our frontline services, technology is essential. From hardware, to mobile phones, networking and software, to keeping communications open and keeping organisations working as effectively as possible during this time. With this, comes other responsibilities ensuring employees have a safe working environment and are supported in times of isolation.
For those employees who are attending work, employers should remind them of the need to regularly wash their hands for 20 seconds and frequently disinfect any objects or surfaces that are used regularly.
What should I pay staff who are not key workers and are unable to work from home?
The Government is providing support to employers affected by these circumstances through its furlough scheme. Employers who apply for the scheme will be reimbursed for employees who are not required to work during this time. To be eligible for the furlough scheme employees must have been registered on a PAYE payroll system on or before 28th February 2020. To continue to be eligible for the scheme, employees cannot undertake work for, or on behalf of their employer or an associated or affiliated employer. The Government will cover 80% of their pay up to £2,500 a month. This is a temporary scheme for three (3) months starting from 1st March 2020, but may be extended if necessary. Employers can use the scheme at any time during this period.
What about sick pay?
Those who follow advice to stay at home and who cannot work as a result of the coronavirus will be eligible for statutory sick pay (SSP), even if they are not themselves showing signs of the viral infection. Employers should use their discretion and respect the medical need to self-isolate. Medical evidence is not required for the first 7 days of sickness and employers are being asked to apply their discretion for evidence of any sickness lasting longer than 7 days especially if related to the employee or if they are living with someone who is self-isolating.
Do you have concerns on Data Protection as more employees are working from home?
Data protection is not a barrier when it comes to working from home. The law does not prevent staff working from home, whether using their own equipment or equipment supplied by their employer. There is however an increased risk of data breaches. There are ways to mitigate data breaches such as encrypting or pseudonymising data before it is transferred.
In the current situation, having skeleton staff working do you need support with contractual issues, supply chain issues, HR issues, event cancellations, insurance claims?
Our supplier partners can offer rapid response to urgent needs, de-risking and securing supply chains, support in business as usual contracting whilst your substantive team focus on the urgent situation, as well as reviewing contracts to ensure any risk is minimised.
When the worst happens, which unfortunately is occurring more than any of us would like, NHS trusts need to ensure they have a sufficient working relationship with their local senior coroner.
To ensure that Trusts are working in line with the latest guidance from NHSE and NHSI to maximise staff availability, our legal suppliers are able to offer support to Trusts who have concerns regarding how their coroner is operating. The legal suppliers are also able to support individual clinicians concerned with pressures being put on them by in-house legal teams of their local coroners.
All of our Legal Suppliers offer free legal advice which can be taken up on any new cases. Many of our Consultancy Solutions and Advisory Services suppliers are also offering free advice and solutions to assist you in managing contracts, as well as offering support in procurement and supply chain issues, and supporting your employees who may need moral support while they are either in isolation or working from home.
If you need rapid advice and solutions on any of the points raised above, we encourage stakeholders to contact us on email@example.com. We also facilitate fast track on-boarding as well as a range of other solutions. We will continue to do everything that we can to support our partners with solutions to deliver the best patient care and value in these challenging times.