Second national lockdown: how is going to work affected?
The Prime Minister announced on Sunday a second national lockdown starting on 5 November, with people only allowed to leave their home for certain limited purposes.
The new lockdown legislation has now been published and it allows people to leave home to go to work in certain limited circumstances. It says people may leave home where reasonably necessary for work purposes, where it is not reasonably possible for them to work from home. This seems more restrictive than the going to work guidance which replicated the 3 tier guidance and indicates those who cannot work effectively from home should continue to go to their workplace. In fact, the new legislation is very similar to the legislation introduced during the first lockdown.
The apparent conflict between the legislation and guidance is unhelpful but it is the legislation, not the guidance, that sets out the law. Employers considering whether to allow employees to attend the workplace will therefore need to consider carefully whether it is reasonably possible for them to work from home. If it is, but they still attend the workplace, the employee will be committing a criminal offence.
The guidance confirms that public sector employees working in essential services, including education settings, should continue to go into the workplace.
Where employees are attending the workplace, employers will need to ensure it is COVID-secure and give extra consideration to those who are at higher risk. The guidance indicates those who are clinically vulnerable (aged 70 or over or with certain underlying health conditions) should still go to work if they cannot work from home. However, the Government is advising those who are clinically extremely vulnerable (people with specific serious health conditions) not to go work if they cannot work from home. They may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay or Employment Support Allowance if they cannot work from home and furlough is also likely to be an option.
The Government has published full new guidance for the clinically extremely vulnerable and will be writing to everybody who is clinically extremely vulnerable to set out detailed advice.
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