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News added on 21.12.2020

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Coronavirus: what does the new Tier 4 mean for employers?

A new Tier 4 of coronavirus-related restrictions took effect from Sunday, 20 December 2020, affecting London and many areas in the south east and east of England. What are the implications for employers?

The rule in Tier 4 areas is that everyone who can work effectively from home should do so. However, workers who cannot work from home should continue to travel to their workplace where it remains open. This includes those whose jobs involve working in other people’s homes, e.g. cleaners and tradespeople. It also includes travelling for work into another area, e.g. travelling from a Tier 4 area to a Tier 2 area and vice versa. Therefore, if your business is in Tier 4, is legally permitted to be open and workers cannot work from home, they can and should still attend their workplace, and this includes those living in both Tier 4 areas and in other lower tier areas. If your business is in a lower tier, is legally permitted to be open, workers cannot work from home and some of them live in Tier 4 areas, again those workers can and should still attend work.

The exception here is those workers who are clinically extremely vulnerable to coronavirus, i.e. those on the government’s shielding list. These particular workers who either live or work in a Tier 4 area have been strongly advised to work from home. If they cannot work from home, they are advised to follow shielding advice and not to attend work and that they may be eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) or Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). Note that this may therefore affect both Tier 4 employers and lower tier employers, as clinically extremely vulnerable workers who are required to work in an area which is in a different tier to where they live are advised to follow the guidance for whichever area is in the higher tier, e.g. if they live in a Tier 4 area but work in a Tier 2 area, the guidance for Tier 4 applies to them. Where these workers are unable to work, it’s your decision whether to furlough them under the CJRS or whether to treat it as deemed incapacity and pay SSP instead. According to the guidance, these individuals are due to receive a further formal shielding email/letter from the government that they can provide to you as evidence that they’ve been advised to shield, but we understand that these emails/letters have not yet been received.

You should allow Tier 4 workers to work from home if they can do so. However, if they cannot work from home, they should continue to go to work if their workplace is legally permitted to be open, and this includes those who either live or work in a Tier 4 area. The exception is those who are clinically extremely vulnerable to coronavirus, as such workers who either live or work in a Tier 4 area have been advised to follow shielding advice and not to attend work.

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