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Coronavirus Act 2020 receives Royal Assent

26 March 2020 #Employment


Emergency Volunteering Leave

Emergency volunteering leave allows workers to leave their main job and volunteer temporarily for the NHS or in social care.

The volunteers can be certified by an “appropriate authority”, such as a local authority or NHS Commissioning Board, and will then be eligible to take the leave provided they give their employer’s three working days’ notice and produce their certificate. This leave can last for 2, 3 or 4 weeks.

There is no provision for the employer to refuse the leave but there is also no obligation on the employer to pay the worker’s wages for this period. The worker will however continue to benefit from all the terms and conditions of their employment they would have enjoyed had they not been absent, including the right to return to their role on no less favourable conditions.

There are further protections for workers, including protection from detriment for taking or seeking to take the leave, and it will be automatically unfair to dismiss them for the same.

While there are provisions in the Act allowing the Secretary of State to establish how workers will be compensated on this leave, no details have yet been announced and information is expected in the coming days.

The Coronavirus Act 2020 (“the Act”) received Royal Assent on 25 March.  It contained the following key developments for employment around SSP and emergency volunteering leave:

Statutory Sick Pay – Day 1 payment

The Act has formally amended the SSP regime to allow the payment of SSP from day one of coronavirus-related sickness or self-isolation. This is a temporary change and will be repealed once the provisions expire.

The Act also gives HMRC the power to set out how this funding will work in practice.  However, no details have yet been formally set out. The Chancellor indicated on 17 March that it would be available to employers with fewer than 250 employees and limited to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible worker.

The Act further states any regulations introduced by HMRC may be retrospective and take into account any coronavirus-related absence on or after 13 March 2020.

Emergency Volunteering Leave

Emergency volunteering leave allows workers to leave their main job and volunteer temporarily for the NHS or in social care.

The volunteers can be certified by an “appropriate authority”, such as a local authority or NHS Commissioning Board, and will then be eligible to take the leave provided they give their employer’s three working days’ notice and produce their certificate. This leave can last for 2, 3 or 4 weeks.

There is no provision for the employer to refuse the leave but there is also no obligation on the employer to pay the worker’s wages for this period. The worker will however continue to benefit from all the terms and conditions of their employment they would have enjoyed had they not been absent, including the right to return to their role on no less favourable conditions.

There are further protections for workers, including protection from detriment for taking or seeking to take the leave, and it will be automatically unfair to dismiss them for the same.

While there are provisions in the Act allowing the Secretary of State to establish how workers will be compensated on this leave, no details have yet been announced and information is expected in the coming days.

Clarkslegal, specialist Employment lawyers in London, Reading and throughout the Thames Valley.
For further information about this or any other Employment matter please contact Clarkslegal's employment team by email at employmentunit@clarkslegal.com by telephone 020 7539 8000 (London office), 0118 958 5321 (Reading office) or by completing the form on this page.
Disclaimer
This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Please refer to the full General Notices on our website.

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Ciara Duggan

Ciara Duggan
Trainee Solicitor

E: cduggan@clarkslegal.com
T: 020 7539 8052
M: 0778 665 5903

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