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Lockdown 2.0 – The lowdown on the rules for businesses still open

Lockdown is upon us once more, and with it comes new legislations all business owners need to be aware of. The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No 4) Regulations 2020 have come into force today so we thought we should tell you what this means and how it may impact you and your business.

The impact of lockdown

First things first, it is now a criminal offence for people to leave their home ‘without reasonable excuse’. However, there are a few exceptions, and these include going to work when it is not ‘reasonably possible’ to work from home. The question will always be what is ‘reasonable’?

Unsurprisingly, workplace gatherings of two or more people are also referred to, prohibiting them unless they are ‘reasonably necessary’. There is that word reasonable again! The regulations also make clear which businesses need to close during lockdown, including, of course, cafes, pubs and restaurants.

Facts and figures surrounding penalties for non-compliance are also made clear, which include criminal liability for the company and the employee. Yikes! On this basis it is important to make sure you are considering all the risks.

So, what should you do?

It is always good to get some one-on-one advice from an expert, and we are always on hand to offer our advice, but here are a few things to consider:

  • Is it ‘reasonably possible’ for employees to work from home? If it is, then enforce this from 5th November 2020 until at least 2nd December 2020. Make sure you have your working from home practices covered.
  • If you do need employees to come into work, make sure this can be justified and relied upon later.
  • Some employees may only need to come into work on a part-time basis, so make sure you consider this possibility.
  • If you are remaining open and have justifiable reasons then this must be COVID-secure, in line with Government guidelines.
  • Some employees may refuse to attend the workplace. If so, do not wing it, seek legal advice before taking any further steps.
  • The Furlough scheme should be considered – look into it, consider all your options and again seek advice.

For more detailed information on the new regulations, please contact us to get advice specific to your circumstances.

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