Alan Price

Lockdown roadmap - employment law reaction – @alan__price @BrightHR_

At first glance, many businesses will feel like we’ve been here before. An optimistic but cautious roadmap back to some semblance of normality, with hopeful plans for most restrictions being relaxed, or removed altogether, by the Summer. However, as the Prime Minister was keen to stress, how this will work in England will depend on several factors, not the least of which are the continued successful roll-out of the vaccination programme and the dates he has set out today are not cast in stone.

What we can take from today’s news is that we now have much more of an idea when we can expect restrictions to be lifted over the coming months and that, crucially, at least one week’s notice will be provided to businesses if there are changes to the plan. Provided everything goes well, venues such as nightclubs could see themselves reopening for the first time in over a year by late June, something that will likely be a significant relief for operators in this area who are struggling.

People will continue to be advised to shield until at least the end of March, meaning employers should consider their circumstance even if they have had a vaccine. Guidance on working from home is also set to remain the same for some time until at least April, although the government is to review whether this provision can be relaxed at a currently unspecified point. As has always been made clear, reopening schools fully remains an absolute priority for the government.

Unlike the devolved nations, England is asking all children to return to face-to-face teaching from Monday 8 March, meaning working parents will likely now have less childcare issues that may have impacted on their ability to conduct their job fully. The direct result is that their employer may consider asking them to return to the workplace, in line with government guidance, and take them off furlough.

Ultimately, while this will be disappointing news for some businesses who still have to wait some time before they can reopen, we at least now have more certainty surrounding the government’s plans for restarting the economy as we head through the year. For now, the message from the government is clear. Continue to abide by lockdown rules and keep up to date with all announcements they make in the coming weeks.

Alan Price, CEO of BrightHR

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