Today (Monday 22nd February 2021), Boris Johnson announced the UK’s release from lockdown. The plan is contingent on a number of tests such as:
- the success of the vaccine rollout
- the number of hospital admissions and deaths falling
- the amount of pressure on the NHS
- the impact of any variants
Assuming these tests are met, what does it mean for UK employers?
Release from lockdown - 8th March 2021
The first stage of the release of lockdown is a return for all school children in England. This will open up the potential for parents who are furloughed due to childcare reasons to return to work. Whilst there may still be some childcare issues, some return to flexible furlough may be possible. Employees should still work from home where possible.
Release from lockdown - 29th March 2021
On 29th March 2021, the second phase will see outdoor sporting venues return and the stay at home message will be removed. This will pave a way to a wider return to the office, though they should be still be Covid secure.
Release from lockdown - 12th April 2021
The second phase commences on 12th April 2021 with hospitality venues able to open to serve customer outdoors (without a scotch egg). Non-essential retail including hairdressers and nail salons will open as will gyms and swimming pools.
Self catering holidays and camp sites will also open in phase 2.
Release from lockdown - 17th May 2021
By 17th May, the 3rd phase on the release from lockdown starts to open up hospitality indoors as well as stadiums, cinemas and theatres. Wedding venues will also be able to open up, albeit with restricted attendance.
Release from lockdown - 21st June 2021
The final stage of the release from lockdown will be no earlier than 21st June. On this date, all remaining restrictions will be lifted, paving the way to a normal summer.
As we said earlier in the article, all these dates remain open to change but at last, there looks to be a way out of this crisis.
What should employers be thinking about?
As the economy opens up, you should plan your resource carefully. If you have employees on furlough, then you may want to bring them back flexibly. Click here to find out more about how that works.
Ensure that you keep your staff as updated as possible on your business plans. If you do need to make redundancies, make sure they are planned and that employees are consulted with regularly.
We await to hear whether the Chancellor will extend furlough. At present the scheme is running until 30th April 2021 but it is widely expected that this will be extended, potentially to July. The budget on March 3rd will tell us more.