Furlough and COVID-19 Employer Obligations Update – 24th June 2020

Published on: 26/06/2020


Following the Prime Minister’s announcement that, as of 4th July 2020, there will be a further easing of COVID-19 restrictions, the government has updated its guidance on opening businesses and venues in England and how to work safely during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

As part of step three of the government’s plans, cafés, restaurants and shops that are self-contained and can be accessed from the outside are permitted to open. Among those on the prohibited list however, are nightclubs, indoor fitness and dance studios, exhibition or conference centres and spas.

Amongst the updated and newly published guidance is specific advice aimed at the “visitor economy”. The guidance defines this as much broader than tourism and encompasses all staying and non-staying visitors and the activities and expenditure involved in supplying products and services for visitors by both the private and public sectors. In summary:

  • the guidance stresses the need for employers to:
    • carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment and share the results with the workforce
    • stick to social distancing measure of 2m or 1m where 2m is not viable as long as mitigation measures are in place.
    • consider the security implications of any changes they intend to make;
    • provide considerations for managing customers, visitors and contractors, for example:
      • assessing the maximum number of customers that a premises can reasonably contain while maintaining social distancing;
      • considering how customers will move in congestion areas such as entrances and exits; and
      • working with the local authorities and neighbouring businesses to consider how to stagger the number of people arriving through the day.
    • The guidance also advises employees to raise concerns, should they have them, to their employee representative, trade union or to contact HSE.

Finally, there have been further calls to extend the furlough scheme by London mayor Sadiq Khan. More than 1 million London workers have now been furloughed during the pandemic, accounting for more than 12 per cent of the national total. Although there are no changes to the government’s contributions next month, as of August, the government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 for the hours an employee is on furlough and employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions for the hours the employee is on furlough.

Our podcast on this update can be found here [Social Distancing Changes Podcast].


This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking professional and legal advice. Please refer to the full General Notices on our website.