Coronavirus Act 2020
Sentient Group Ltd
Info Update 2020/11                                                         Issue Date: 26/03/2020
Coronavirus Act 2020
Never before have we seen legislation evolve and be presented at such speed and The Coronavirus Act 2020 received Royal Assent on 25th March 2020.

It formalises some of the matters we have already reported on but it is useful to summarise some of the key measures as follows. In some instances this is an Enabling Act meaning new regulations will be needed to put the measures into practice. A couple of key aspects are as follows -

Statutory Sick Pay - SSP
What we know –
  • SSP is payable for those self-isolating due to Covid-19.
  • This will be funded by HM Revenue and Customs (but also see below).
  • HMRC will follow with regulations on how the funding will work.

What is indicated but needs legislation to put it into practice -
  • The funding may be backdated to 13th March
  • SSP will be payable from day one of qualifying absence but only where the absence is due to Covid-19.
  • The funding would be for employers with fewer than 250 employees
  • The funding will be limited to two weeks' SSP per eligible employee

The established SSP rules will continue to apply for none Covid-19 sick or injury absences from work.

Emergency Volunteering Leave - EVL
Further legislation is required to set out the regulations but the basics are -
  • Workers will be able to leave their main job and volunteer temporarily in the NHS or social care sector.
  • Such workers will be given a certificate confirming their period of volunteering.
  • Workers will need to give employers three days notice of their intent to volunteer.
  • Workers will be required to present the certificate to their employers at the time they give notice.
  • The EVL must be in periods of two, three or four weeks.
  • Employers will not be able to refuse EVL.
  • Workers can take only one period of EVL in a designated ‘volunteering period’.
  • The initial ‘volunteering period’ will be 16 weeks commencing on a date yet to be determined.
  • EVL is unpaid but all other contractual entitlements will continue.
  • On completion of EVL the worker will return to their same job.
  • Legislation to follow will address loss of earnings, travel and subsistence expenses for volunteers.
  • Volunteers receive employment protection not to suffer any detriment due to them volunteering.
  • It will be automatically unfair to dismiss an employee for taking EVL.

How long will the new measure last?
The temporary provisions of the Act will automatically expire after two years, but further legislation could close them off sooner.

Both the SSP rule changes and the right to EVL are temporary. However, the protection from detriment and dismissal for having taken emergency volunteering leave, and the protection of employees' terms and conditions of employment during such leave, are not temporary and so will not automatically expire.

Final comment
As per – we will keep the information flowing as succinctly as we can, at intervals determined by the speed of events. But for now please all keep on with good personal hygiene and social distancing and the requests/requirements of Public Health England and Government. Think of the success the UK cycling team has had in recent Olympics – all based on the theory of marginal returns, but lots of them. And there are lots of very small and minor things we can all do, which if we all apply, will collectively make a difference. That mind-set will also help business survive this and then recover better when we get back to normal.

The advice and comment in this update is not meant to be an authoritative statement of the law. The articles and summaries should not be applied to any specific set of facts and circumstances without seeking further advice. Whilst every care is taken to ensure that the content is correct Sentient cannot accept responsibility for the accuracy of statements made nor the result of any actions taken by individuals after reading such.
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