Last week the Government published emergency legislation outlining the measures that will be introduced to deal with the implications of COVID-19. The Bill includes provisions that are relevant to employers, as follows:
Emergency Volunteering Leave (EVL): a new form of statutory unpaid leave. Employees will be able to take a maximum of four weeks leave in any 16-week volunteering period. This is unpaid leave, but otherwise terms and conditions continue as normal. Employees have the right to return to work on the same terms etc at the end of the leave. The usual protection against detriment and dismissal for taking the leave will apply.
To take EVL, an employee must be certified as an emergency volunteer by an appropriate authority. A compensation scheme will be set up to cover any losses employees incur taking the leave. Certain employees are exempt (i.e. will not be eligible for EVL) – for example, if they work in the emergency services or where their employer employs 10 or fewer employees.
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP): The Government is setting up a rebate scheme. We have some of the detail, as follows:
- Employers with fewer than 250 employees to recover the costs of paying coronavirus-related SSP (capped at two weeks of SSP per employee).
- The waiting days for SSP are also being suspended, but only if the SSP is related to coronavirus.
- This is being backdated to 13th March.
- We expect further details on what records are to be kept for these purposes and when the scheme actually applies – what is Coronavirus related absence?
We will provide further information about these arrangements as the details become clear.