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Workers Attending the Workplace & Furlough Updates (14 January 2021)

Workers attending the workplace

At a press conference on 12 January 2021, the First and Deputy First Ministers stated that they were receiving reports of employers requiring staff to attend the workplace when people could work from home. The Ministers confirmed that they were meeting PSNI later to discuss enforcement of the law.

We therefore thought it helpful to set out the current law on attending the workplace and provide some practical guidance.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No. 2) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2021 came into force on 8 January 2021 and requires everyone to stay at home.

Regulation 19 introduces restrictions on movement away from home without a reasonable excuse, with exemptions. Regulation 22 introduces a power to direct persons to return home if they are in breach of, or intending to breach, a requirement.

A list of reasonable excuses to leave home is set out in the Regulations under Regulation 19 (2). Those excuses include, at Regulation 19 (2)(g);

(g) to attend work or to provide voluntary or charitable services, where it is not reasonably possible for that person to work, or to provide those services, from the place where they normally live or where their linked household normally lives

In Guidance issued to supplement the Regulations it states that if the person can work from home, they must do so. If work cannot be done from home those persons are permitted to go to work.

Given that the Ministers have stated they will be speaking to PSNI, businesses might find that some workers are stopped and asked by the PSNI about their reason for travel. It might therefore be helpful for businesses that need workers to work away from home to provide workers with a letter that they can present if asked. We have attached a sample letter that you may wish to use.

The Executive has also published a list of FAQ’s that covers working from home which can be accessed here

Furlough Updates

Publication of employer’s details (14 January 2021)

Information was added on how to request that HMRC do not publish claim information to this Guide

The Guide now includes a hyperlink to takes you to a portal when you can submit your application for HMRC not to publish your claim details. See request we do not publish your claim details.

The Guidance confirms that you this request must be made by the businesses and cannot be made by an agent.

Helpfully it clarifies that HMRC will not publish any claim details until a decision has been made and the business has been informed.

It also confirms that businesses need only to apply once and their decision will cover all claim periods starting on or after 1 December.

Employment Allowance

A new section has been added about claiming and checking if you are eligible for an Employment Allowance in the Calculate your claim Guide


Two new examples about how to calculate your employees wages if they are paid a fixed annual amount have been added to the page (at 3.14 and 3.15).