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Student support - employment law & Covid-19

Hi everyone, 

I've recently started a LLM Employment Law. I have previously completely a Postgraduate Diploma in HRM and wanted to expand my legal knowledge. The course is virtual, for the first module Employment Law in Context, the 3,000 word assignment is on Covid-19 (a little soon for this for my liking). 

The question is - 

"Critically assess the Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak in the sphere of employment law and practice, the difficulties of implementation presented by the existing legal framework, and evaluate how far these measures are likely to achieve the Government’s aims and objectives."

My initial thoughts are reviewing which laws have been required change to existing laws to implement:

  • Amendments to SSP and the changes to 'deemed incapacity' 
  • Working Time, transfer of statutory leave over two years

I also want to consider the Government objective through the Taylor review and its response, focusing particularly on the ambition to define 'worker' noting the Covid-19 response for self employed workers. 

I'm at a loss what else to include in respect of difficulties and the government objects. If anyone has spare time to share their views, that would be greatly appreciated 

  • How about gaining agreement or relying on 'contractual lay-off/short time working policies?
    making people work from home or stay away if shielding?
    reducing hours/pay
    More generally
    law made by remote civil servants 'on the hoof
    Dealing with uncertainty
    Employers as social security payers
  • In reply to Peter Stanway:

    Thank you Peter, this is really helpful.

    I've work in social care, so my knowledge of the recent changes have been limited to absence, as we've not been required/eligible to furlough ect so I haven't kept fully abreast. Really do appreciate your response
  • In reply to Laura:

    Hi Laura, I think the rules around furlough eligibility are really interesting. Like you I work in social care but we are a charity whose funding comes from different sources. Some of it is public funding (NHS, local authorities, central government) but some is funded by grants and other forms of fundraised income. We had to assess quickly at the start of Covid-19 which services we would be eligible to furlough staff in, as legal advice was that we couldn’t “double dip” into public funds.

    However we had a lot of planned redundancies earlier this year due to service contracts ending etc. and many employees and unions were complaining that they felt we should furlough ALL staff who were at risk of redundancy, for whatever reason. This was a big challenge for us and it remains to be seen whether any employees challenge this at ET.
  • I'd suggest you take a look at the topic of employees reluctant to return to work and what constitutes a reasonable belief there is serious and imminent danger.
  • In reply to Katie:

    Hi Katie,
    Thank you for your message. Great idea. We had similar issues, my company have SEN schools and children's homes, all of which were very much open as usual over the peak. We had a number of employees and Trade Unions arguing if staff had childcare issues we should allow them to be furloughed. This would have been at the detriment of our staffing and require us to 'double dip'
    I hope we won't face challenges but it will be interesting to see the ET response to ER matters across the board in the coming years
  • In reply to David:

    Hi David,
    Thank you - I hadn't considered this as my company have been open as usual throughout. Great suggestion, a weekend of reading around this topic ahead for me.