Covid 19 – Employment Law Update – 16 April 2020

Furloughing extended to employees hired on or before 19 March 2020

The UK government has announced that it has extended furlough scheme eligibility to more than 200,000 newly hired employees by extending the eligibility date to those employees on the payroll on or before 19 March 2020.

Payment of contingent workers

The Cabinet Office has published updated guidance on the payment of contingent workers – labour utilised by a public body supplied by an agency, through a personal services company or on PAYE – if they are unable to work as a result of COVID-19.

New guidance for the unemployed and employees who cannot work

The Department for Work and Pensions have published ‘Coronavirus (COVID-19): what to do if you’re employed and cannot work’ and ‘Coronavirus (COVID-19): what to do if you were employed and have lost your job‘.

New guidance on telephone and video court hearings

HM Courts and Tribunals Service has updated its guidance on the conduct of  telephone and video hearings during the coronavirus outbreak first published on 18 March 2020 and it includes new information concerning communication between solicitors and barristers and their clients.

Employment Appeal Tribunal hearings

The President of the Employment Appeal Tribunal has issued a statement indicating that as of 16 April 2020, the EAT will be holding hearings via telephone, Skype or other internet-based platforms in a limited number of appeals.

Payments under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The Treasury has issued a directive to HMRC with instructions on how it should issue payments under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.  Some employment law commentators suggest it may be the definitive government guidance on how the scheme works.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme fraud

HMRC chief executive Jim Harra told a committee of MPs that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is already the target of fraud with some employees reporting that they are being asked to work while furloughed. Mr Harra said HMRC will be able to take criminal action against employers and a whistleblowing hotline will be available to workers.