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Covid-19 and its effects on employment

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COVID-19 and its effects on employment

With the current crisis in full flow, the government has introduced a number of emergency measures to help businesses and employees through this crisis.

Extension of Statutory Sick Pay

Employees who are sick through coronavirus symptoms are entitled to SSP from the first day of illness.  The first 14 days of that absence will be recoverable from the government.

SSP and Self-Isolation

Employees who are not sick themselves but are in isolation because a member of their household may be sick with coronavirus symptoms will be treated as sick for the purposed of statutory sick pay.  Employees who are merely absent as a precaution are not entitled to SSP or sick leave and may be subject to disciplinary proceedings if they are not doing so under the guidance issued by Public Health England.

Furlough Leave

Furlough leave is where an employee is effectively suspended from work as an alternative to being laid off on no pay or made redundant (at a time where many employers will not have the cash to make any payments at all). At present the detail of furlough leave is yet to be published, but we know that 80% of the cost to the employer of continuing to employ an employee is going to be available (subject to a £2500 per month cap) as a refund from HMRC.  There is no obligation on an employer to top up this amount. Employees will probably need to agree to a change in their terms and conditions to allow this, but are likely to agree as the alternative may be a redundancy with many employers unable to actually make the redundancy payment.  Employees on furlough leave must NOT do any work for that employer nor take up alternative work during the time that they would ordinarily be working for the employer.  Seek advice from us if a breach has ramifications for you. Further details about this concerning furlough and how it interacts with maternity leave, holiday pay and sick pay are likely to be in the regulations to be issued early next week. Read this blog for more details.

NHS Volunteering

Employees now have a right to take time off work to answer the NHS’s call for volunteers.  Affected employees will not be paid by their employers for this time and will need an appropriate certificate from the relevant authorities to qualify.  They will have a right to return to their old job at the conclusion of that period (unless furloughed).


Making employees redundant while there is a good alternative to redundancy available (in the form of paid furlough leave) is going to be difficult.


This is a fast changing situation and our employment team is here to help employers and employees alike negotiate through these fast moving waters.

The contents of this article are for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.