Guidance and advice continues to evolve quickly, and there have been various relevant changes and updates over the past month which have an impact on employers.
Employers will need to be ready to accommodate the new minimum isolation period for staff following Public Health England's updated guidance. The minimum self-isolation period for coronavirus (COVID-19) for individuals suffering with a suspected or confirmed case of coronavirus is now ten days. Individuals sharing a household with someone with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 must isolate for a minimum 14 day period.
Corresponding Statutory Sick Pay (General) (Coronavirus Amendment) (No.5) Regulations 2020 also came into force on 5 August 2020. These provide that a person isolating as an individual or as part of a household in accordance with the updated guidance will be deemed incapable of work for statutory sick pay purposes. Staff can self-certify for their first seven days of absence and may thereafter obtain a self-isolation note from the NHS website or app.
The number of reports HMRC has received on furlough fraud rose steeply from 4,400 at the end of June 2020 to 6,749 on 22 July 2020, representing an increase of 53% in a three-week period.
Last week we reported on the new Errors and Penalty Guides, published by HMRC to assist employers with their self-audit of any claims they had made under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). As the Government shifts its focus to reviewing the applications made under the CJRS, employers are encouraged to be proactive in reviewing their past claims and rectifying any mistakes.
From 8 August 2020, it is a legal requirement to wear a face mask in indoor settings such as museums, galleries, cinemas and places of worship. Government updated guidance also includes various workplaces, including professional, legal and financial services firms, as venues where visitors should wear masks. Whilst it is not mandatory for staff to wear face coverings at work, they can choose to wear one and should be supported in doing so.