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Employment rights following the Prime Minister’s announcement on Sunday 10 May

  • The Government roadmap outlines three key phases, but the level of clarity leaves a lot to be desired for employers, employees and the self-employed

Following the Prime Minster’s latest address to the nation, in which he outlined his plan to restart economic growth and send portions of the country out of lockdown and back to work, many will be left unsure of their legal rights and obligations as the transition begins.

The Prime Minister indicated that some businesses will re-open from 1 June. What provisions should employers be putting in place to safeguard their staff, and when must they allow their employees to work from home? This is particularly important as the PM has advised to avoid public transport. Equally, on the employee side, what rights are there to decline going back to office working, particularly if employees can return to work?

The Prime Minister has advised Britons to continue working from home if they can, but to go to work avoiding public transport if you cannot. The government will issue guidance to make sure businesses are Covid-secure.

On Thursday, The Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced in the daily government briefing that the government is now in a position for the next phase and on Sunday, Prime Minster Boris Johnson set out his “Roadmap” to get the economy back up and running.

The next phase will impact businesses and workers including those who work in a self-employed capacity. The Prime Minister has also announced that individuals will be entitled to unlimited exercise and therefore will also have an impact on the sports sector, and so the employment team at RadcliffesLeBrasseur LLP will be advising businesses and individuals on the impact that the roadmap will have including but not limited to:

  • The Health and Safety requirements for businesses
  • Whether is it safe for employees/workers/self employed consultants to return to work
  • The steps to put in place if individuals do not want to return to work
  • If employers can force employees to return to work
  • If businesses should include increased protection for the BAME communities

The Impact on businesses

What are the health and safety considerations for businesses?

  • What are the obligations under health and safety legislation?
  • Does the employer have to undertake a risk assessment?
  • Can employers force employees to take a temperature check and how does it fit with an employer’s obligations under GDPR?
  • What if employees do not want to return to the office and can’t work from home?
  • What about employees with child care responsibilities and unable to return to work?
  • What about employees that are shielding and are vulnerable?
  • What is the financial impact on businesses?
  • With furlough likely to end at the end of June and business still unable to function, what can employers do to ensure the business remains financially viable?

The impact on employees/workers

  • Do they feel safe coming back to work, if not what can they do?
  • What about employees with child care responsibilities who are unable to return to work, what rights do they have?
  • Do employees who fall in to the vulnerable category have any special rights?
  • Are employees on furlough at risk of redundancy at the end of the scheme?
  • Can employees that are vulnerable or shielding be protected by the discrimination legislation?

The Impact on Self Employed Individuals

In March 2019, the Government introduced the ‘Self-Employment Income Support Scheme’ where individuals who meet strict criteria can apply for a government grant of 80% of their average monthly trading profits covering 3 months, capped at £7,500 altogether. There may be changes made to the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme i.e. if the criteria for eligibility changes etc.

If lockdown measures are lifted:

  • What considerations do companies need to factor in for self-employed individuals? Do companies owe self-employed contractors the same health and safety responsibilities as their employees?
  • Self-employed contractors are more likely to be able to work more flexibly than employees but are also more likely to hot desk – what can companies do to retain safety?
  • Can self-employed individuals refuse to return to a client’s office if they do not feel safe?

The impact for the sports sector

  • There has been talk from politicians about football returning to “lift the nation”.
  • Where does that leave players and staff that do not feel safe to return?
  • Where does that leave players and staff where testing is not sufficient?
  • There is a planned meeting between Premier League clubs to discuss elements of “Project Restart”.
  • “Project Restart” has suggested numerous possible alternatives to football returning.
  • Can players/staff/referees refuse to play if they do not feel safe
  • If players are asked to self-isolate with their teammates for a number of weeks to allow them to play in neutral venues – can they refuse due to the disruption this may cause their family life?
  • What rights do players who are out of contract this summer have if the current season runs into the summer and autumn?
  • What rights do clubs have to retain their out of contract players beyond the expiry of their contract?

RadcliffesLeBrasseur LLP, a leading UK-based law firm providing business, regulatory, not-for-profit and private legal advice to employers and employees and self employed consultants is on hand to provide some much needed clarity. The firm is listed as a leading firm in both the Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners directories and provides legal services nationally from offices in London, Leeds and Cardiff.

Our employment team can advise on all of the above areas.

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