2nd April 2020

Summary of employment law updates for March 2020

As you may expect, the COVID-19 pandemic has dominated employment law this month with new updates on an almost daily basis. Below is just a summary of the changes, but if you have any queries, please do contact us for further advice on your own particular circumstances.

There have been developments on Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) eligibility rules for self-isolation, including a new online isolation note, and small and medium employers will be able to recover up to two weeks’ SSP from HMRC.

The Chancellor announced the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, aimed at preventing job losses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the scheme, HMRC will reimburse employers 80% of normal pay (up to £2,500 a month) for employees who are “furloughed”. A scheme for self-employed individuals has also been announced.

On 23 March, the Prime Minister announced a nationwide lockdown, followed by regulations dealing with business closures and restrictions on movement and assembly. Also, the new Coronavirus Act 2020 includes a new form of statutory leave to allow workers to act as emergency volunteers in health or social care, and provisions to implement SSP reimbursement mentioned above.

The Government has also relaxed the restrictions on carry-over of holiday, where it is not reasonably practicable to take it by the end of the leave year due to the effects of COVID-19.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has a new hub online to provide advice for individuals and businesses in respect of COVID-19.The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) has announced temporary revised ID checking guidelines in response to the introduction of social distancing measures.

In other news, the Court of Appeal has held in the case of Allen t/a David Allen Chartered Accountants v Dodd & Co that an accountancy firm was not liable for inducing a breach of contract where it recruited someone in breach of contractual post-termination restrictions, having been advised that the restrictions were not enforceable. It highlights the difficulties in bringing a claim of inducing a breach of contract.

Also, in the case of WM Morrison Supermarkets plc v Various Claimants, the Supreme Court has held that Morrisons was not vicariously liable for the unauthorised uploading of payroll data to the internet by an employee using his own personal equipment at home on his day off. It was not so closely connected with his ordinary duties that it could fairly and properly be regarded as made by him while acting in the ordinary course of his employment

Finally, in April, as highlighted before, limits such as National Minimum Wage will be increased and the guidelines for injury to feelings awards in discrimination claims have been updated.

This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.