Given the glut of COVID-related news over the last few weeks, it’s worth just focussing in on where we now find ourselves.
With the recent publication of the Prime Minister's so-called ‘roadmap’ for the relaxation of the current lockdown measures, many businesses are having to contemplate a further continuation of remote working for many of their staff. Official guidance continues to advise people to work from home, where possible. It looks likely that this recommendation could remain in place until as late as 21 June 2021, when the government otherwise hopes to be able to remove all current legal limits on social contact.
Opinion may well be fairly evenly divided between those who have got rather used to the upside of home-working, and those who are desperate to get back to their well-equipped offices. Of course, the smart money is on a significant and more permanent change to the way in which we work and the prospect of much greater home-working and flexibility in the future.
The future of furlough
The other bit of important COVID news is the further extension of the Government's furlough scheme.
Many of us had already assumed that given the ongoing restrictions, a further extension to the scheme beyond the end of April was inevitable. Nevertheless, it was still reassuring to receive official confirmation via the Chancellor's recent budget.
The scheme is now expected to remain in place until the end of September. However, the level of support available is likely to gradually taper off. As we understand it, whilst furloughed employees will continue to be entitled to receive 80% of their pay for any hours they do not work (subject to a statutory cap), employers will be expected to make a 10% contribution towards the cost in July and a 20% contribution in August and September.
All in all, the extension of the furlough scheme is good news and will hopefully continue to insulate businesses and workers from the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you need further assistance, please get in touch.