This bulletin highlights some topical subjects regarding workplace testing and whether employers can insist their employees are vaccinated. It also includes information relating to the increase to statutory rates from April 2021, including the National Minimum Wage and the family-friendly entitlements.

Can an employer insist on their employees having the Covid-19 vaccine?

This is a hot topic within employment now and has made headlines on the BBC and other news channels.

The speed of vaccine development and rollout has been remarkable. It is tempting to see it as a cure-all for the many difficulties this pandemic has created, including the economy and for employers. A survey of employers in January 2021 within 750 businesses found 23% plan to require their staff to be vaccinated (https://www.hrlocker.com/about/press-room/).

It is a controversial issue however since the government has made it clear that having the vaccine is not mandatory. Legally this makes it risky for employers to insist on employees being vaccinated.
In a LinkedIn article and blog on my website,  I outline some of these risks, as well as some options for employers.

LinkedIn Article on Mandatory Vaccination
https://www.colemanhrlaw.co.uk/2021/02/25/can-an-employer-insist-their-employees-have-the-covid-19-vaccine/

Workplace testing now accessible for businesses with more than 50 employees

Details have recently been released on the new government drive to increase workplace testing in sectors open during lockdown, to detect coronavirus (COVID-19) in people who are not showing symptoms.

Government departments have been tasked with ensuring targeted, rapid testing is set up in all key workplaces to ensure vital public and economic services can continue.

Criteria for joining the workplace testing programme is reduced to businesses with more than 50 employees, boosting the availability of rapid testing further.

More details can be found here:
https://www.gov.uk/get-workplace-coronavirus-tests

Latest Coranavirus Guidance for Employers

What to do if you or someone you employ is contacted by NHS Test and Trace, including self-isolation, sick pay, and financial support.
Test and Trace in the Workplace

There is no indication yet of whether the Furlough Scheme will be extended beyond its current end date of 30 April 2021 and next week’s budget hopefully will confirm this.
Furlough Guidance for Employers

If an employee cannot work because of coronavirus (COVID-19), they could get SSP if they have symptoms or are self-isolating in line with the latest government guidance.
Statutory Sick Pay and Coronavirus

The self-isolation guidance does change and you could be fined if you do not self-isolate or require your employees to work when they should be self-isolating.
When to Self Isolate and What to do

If you have any queries regarding the latest Covid-19 guidelines for employers, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Increase to statutory rates from April 2021

The Government has announced the new statutory pay rates to take effect from 4 April 2021.

In summary:

  • The rate of statutory maternity pay, statutory paternity pay, and statutory shared parental pay, currently at £151.20 per week or 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings (whichever is lower), will rise to £151.97 per week.
  • Statutory adoption pay will now be paid out at 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings for the first six weeks of leave, bringing it in line with statutory maternity pay. The remaining adoption pay period will be paid at £151.97 or 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings, whichever is lower.
  • Pay for parental bereavement leave, which is available to parents of a child who died on or after 6th April 2020, will see its first annual rise since its introduction, also to £151.97 a week.
  • Finally, statutory sick pay will increase from £95.85 to £96.35.

Increase to National Minimum Wage from April 2021

The Government has accepted the recommendations of the Low Pay Commission as regards the National Living Wage (NLW) and the National Minimum Wage (NMW) rates.  These will take effect from 1 April 2021.

  • The NLW will increase from £8.72 to £8.91, and will apply to those aged 23 or over, rather than those aged 25 or over as at present;
  • The NMW for 21- and 22-year-olds will increase from £8.20 to £8.36;
  • The NMW for 18- to 20-year-olds will increase from £6.45 to £6.56;
  • The NMW for 16- and 17-year-olds will increase from £4.55 to £4.62; and
  • The apprentice rate of the NMW, which applies to apprentices aged under 19 or those aged 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship, will increase from £4.15 to £4.30 per hour.