Additional Financial Support

Yesterday afternoon, Rishi Sunak announced an additional £1bn in additional financial support for the hospitality and leisure sectors, in light of the struggles faced with the surge of the Omicron variant.

In summary, the announcement means that:

  • Restaurants, bars, cinemas and theatres can apply for a grant of up to £6,000 for each of their premises (£683m has been set aside for these grants and will be provided under existing council-run schemes).
  • Other struggling businesses outside of the leisure and hospitality sector, who have suffered a financial detriment as a result of the Omicron variant, can apply to the council for a different grant, under the ‘Additional Restrictions Grant’ (a further £102m has been put into this scheme).
  • The COVID SSP Rebate Scheme is being reintroduced. So, all those businesses who were previously eligible (those businesses with fewer than 250 employees) can claim money back to cover sick pay for employees who are affected by COVID. The government website states that the scheme will be reintroduced from mid-January, but no further guidance is available at this time. As soon as we hear more, we’ll let you know.
  • The Culture Recovery Fund has been topped up with an extra £30m.

No Further Restrictions Before Christmas

Boris Johnson confirmed yesterday evening that there would be no further restrictions imposed before Christmas. However, with the Omicron variant still causing havoc in hospitals and businesses around the country, it is likely that further restrictions will be imposed after this time.

If further restrictions are introduced over the Christmas period, there may be further support announced, but it’s a bit of a ‘watch this space’ for now.

Self-isolation Reduced to 7 Days

This morning, Health Secretary Sajid Javid, announced that people who have tested positive for COVID can reduce their self-isolation period from 10 days to 7 days, so long as they have a negative lateral flow test on Day 6 and Day 7 and are symptom free. Regardless of vaccination status.

The government has also stated that during Day 8 and Day 10, they are advised to work from home if they can, and not see vulnerable people or visit crowded and ill ventilated places. But this is advice, and not law.

For those that are not double jabbed and have been in close contact with someone with COVID, they must still isolate for the full 10 days.

Temporary 28-day Self-certification for Sickness Absence

In order to free up GP capacity to focus on delivering the COVID-19 booster programme, the self-certification period for absences has been increased from 7 days to 28 days, on a temporary basis.

This means that for absences beginning between 10th December 2021 and 26th January 2022, employees are not required to provide their employer with medical evidence of sickness absence for the first 28 days of absence.

The self-certification period will revert back to 7 days from 27th January 2022. Therefore, the regulations do not apply to periods of incapacity which commence after 26th January 2022.

Given the temporary nature of the regulations, we do not recommend that you amend any of your written rules or policies on absence reporting, but rather that you communicate the temporary change in requirements to your team members (as you see fit).

How Hallidays HR can help

If you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail, then please do not hesitate to contact us.