UKMHA Information Updates
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As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we find ourselves in an ever-changing landscape.
The role of the UKMHA has been to support all those involved with materials handling equipment by keeping everyone abreast of the latest information, guidance and best practice advice.
Content for this section is, therefore, kept under constant review and is being frequently expanded to deliver timely, expert and relevant resources designed to help you work safely and meet government requirements*.
We recommend that you visit the site regularly to ensure you are benefiting from the latest information and would encourage you to contact us if you require more specific advice or guidance. Please contact the UKMHA office at firstname.lastname@example.org
*Some content in this Resource Centre reflects guidance from the UK Government. If you are located in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland you may wish to ensure that this corresponds to information issued by your devolved Executive.
HSE issues guidance on long Covid
17th December 2021
Given the relative lack of knowledge about the interface between long COVID and work, HSE commissioned a study to consider the scientific evidence.
The study was completed with contributions from an international expert group including the Society of Occupational Medicine (SOM) and the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in the UK.
Read the HSE Bulletin here
NOTE (22nd February 2022)
All legal restrictions to end 24th February 2022
People with Covid-19 symptoms will be encouraged to exercise personal responsibility, after all legal restrictions in England will be lifted on Thursday 24 February 2022.
This will mean an end to the legal requirement to self-isolate following a positive test which in turn means that the Government will stop self-isolation support payments, although Covid provisions for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) can still be claimed for a further month. (known as the SSP Rebate Scheme)
The provision of free rapid testing would, from 1 April, be targeted to certain sections of the population. Routine contact tracing will stop and fully vaccinated close contacts and those under 18 will no longer be asked to test daily for seven days.
A summary of the changes is provided below.
From 24 February 2022:
- The legal requirement to self-isolate upon a positive test will be removed
- However, until 1 April 2022, those testing positive are advised to stay at home for 5 days
- Covid SSP rules will remain in place until 24 March 2022. From that date, pre-pandemic SSP rules will apply. This means that SSP will no longer be payable from day 1 for Covid related absence
- The legal requirement for workers to inform their employer that they are required to self-isolate will be removed.
- Changes in legislation
The Government intends to expire all temporary provisions of the Coronavirus Act.
NOTE (21st December 2021)
The SSP Rebate Scheme, which reimbursed employers for the sick pay paid to employees due to Covid-19, has been reinstated.
The Scheme was created in April 2020 to assist employers with the rising cost of sick pay as employees took time off work because they had Covid, or they were self-isolating.
Eligible employers were able to claim back Covid related Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), up to 2 weeks per person, for any absences which fell before 1 October 2021. Paying SSP is a legal requirement provided that the employee meets certain criteria. At the start of the pandemic, SSP laws were extended to include those who were self-isolating, in addition to those who were sick. Because of this, employers found that they were paying substantially more SSP to employees than before.
The Scheme enabled employers with fewer than 250 employees, counted at 28 February 2020, to claim back Covid related SSP to a maximum of 2 weeks per person. The Scheme was closed on 30 September 2021 – the same day the Job Retention Scheme (furlough scheme) was closed – due to the UK being in a better place in terms of Covid cases.
However, the emergence of the Omicron variant has seen an increase in cases and therefore an increase in time off from work due to either sickness or self-isolation.
To help employers meet this extra cost, the Scheme re-opened today (21 December 2021) for eligible businesses across the UK however claims cannot be made until mid-January 2022, when they can be made retrospectively. Employers should ensure they carefully record absence, reasons for absence and accompanying evidence in order to be able to make an accurate claim.
It is worth noting that the recent changes to evidential requirements for absence reporting do not apply where the reason for absence is Covid related, so evidence for Covid related reasons can be requested as normal.
Full guidance is awaited from the Government on the mechanics of the re-ignited SSP Rebate Scheme. Areas that must be cleared up include:
- whether eligibility to use the scheme still depends on headcount at 28 February 2020 or whether a new, more recent, date will be used; and
- whether the scheme will be reset entirely, meaning that employers can claim in respect of employees that had already reached the maximum re-claim amount permissible.
Clarification on these points will be provided when known.
The Government has also confirmed that businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors in England will be eligible for one-off grants of up to £6,000 per premises. More than £100 million discretionary funding will be made available via the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) for local authorities to support other businesses, such as those who supply the hospitality and leisure sectors.
NOTE (9th December 2021)
Government Announces Plan B Implementation
The government has announced that England will move to Plan B in response to the risks of the Omicron variant.
- From 10 December, face coverings will be required by law in most indoor settings.
- From 13 December office workers who can work from home should do so.
- From 15 December, certain venues and events will be required by law to check that all visitors aged 18 years or over are fully vaccinated, have proof of a negative test in the last 48 hours, or have an exemption.
It is still possible to catch and spread COVID-19, even if you are fully vaccinated.
Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms or a positive test result should stay at home and self-isolate immediately. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should arrange to take a PCR test as soon as possible, even if you’ve had one or more doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Those who have come into contact with an individual who may have been infected with the Omicron variant will need to self-isolate. This will apply even if you are fully-vaccinated or aged 18 or under. NHS Test and Trace will contact you if this is the case.
No jab, no job debate (2nd August 2021)
An article published 2nd August 2021 by People Management, part of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD):
Businesses can choose to have ‘no jab, no job’ policies, says minister
But experts caution against taking a ‘broad brush’ approach to vaccination requirements, warning this could open up the risk of tribunal claims
Companies are allowed to introduce a requirement for members of staff to be vaccinated before returning to the workplace, a minister has suggested, but there would be no new government legislation creating a vaccine mandate.
When asked on Sky News whether he thought it was a good idea that people be double vaccinated before they go back to the workplace, transport minister Grant Shapps said: “Yes I think it’s a good idea and yes some companies are going to require it.”
But, Shapps added: “We’re not going to make that legislation that every adult has to be double vaccinated before they go back to the office.”
His statements echoed those made by foreign secretary Dominic Raab, who told The Telegraph that requiring staff to be double vaccinated before returning to the workplace was a “smart policy”.
However, experts have cautioned against employers taking a “broad brush” approach to vaccination requirements.
Outside of care homes in England, where the government is introducing specific legislation, the employment tribunal remains the ultimate authority on whether employers can require staff to be vaccinated, said Andrew Willis, head of legal at Croner.
“Comments from government ministers will not be taken into consideration during [a tribunal’s] assessment,” he added.
Instead, every claim relating to a refusal to have the vaccine would be “entirely dependent on the specific facts around that claim”, and employers that take any action against an employee for not being vaccinated face a high risk of a claim if they cannot show their mandate was reasonable.
“Circumstances can differ so greatly from employer to employer that a broad-brush approach isn’t suitable. Every employer considering whether to make the vaccine mandatory in their business needs to assess their individual risk,” said Willis.
Ben Willmott, head of public policy at the CIPD, said employers should still encourage staff to have the vaccine when offered, but also warned that making the vaccination compulsory could be discriminatory.
“There will be a small minority of people who don’t get the vaccine either because they can’t for medical reasons or choose not to for other reasons, and employers must be careful not to stigmatise or discriminate against them,” he said.
Instead, employers should highlight the benefits of the vaccine and be flexible about working hours or provide paid time off to enable people to attend vaccination appointments, he said.
There are useful guides and policies available to UKMHA members through the Kernow HR Toolkit at https://www.kernowhr.uk/covid19coronavirus
NOTE (19th July 2021)
What are the Covid rules easing on 19 July?
As per the lockdown roadmap, “all limits on social contact” should be lifted at step four, t the following main restrictions are being eased:
- The rules making face masks mandatory for most people in places such as shops and on public transport will be lifted – people are instead urged to “exercise their personal responsibility”. Guidance to suggest people “might choose” to wear face coverings when cases are rising, for example.
- Shops and transport providers may still tell customers to wear masks – but this would come with concerns of a threat to staff and of legal action.
- Nightclubs will finally be able to reopen for the first time since the first lockdown was imposed in March last year.
- All other businesses ordered to close will also be able to reopen, meaning gigs and festivals will return.
- Sporting stadiums that were not already open under the pilot scheme can also welcome fans at full capacity.
- “One metre plus” rule on social distancing will be lifted, with guidance remaining in two circumstances: when self-isolating after a positive test and in airports to prevent mixing between people arriving from high-risk countries.
- Restrictions on being seated and table service in hospitality will end, as will the legal requirement to scan QR codes when entering venues.
- “Rule of six” for indoor meetings will cease, as will the limit of 30 people outdoors, allowing for weddings, funerals and festivals to return to near normal.
- “It will no longer be necessary” for working from home guidance to remain – charities have called for ministers to ensure clinically vulnerable people are not pressured to return to offices.
- Limit on how many named visitors a care home resident can receive will be lifted but infection control measures such as enhanced cleaning and PPE will remain in place.
What are the rules on face masks?
Despite the legal requirement for face coverings in indoor public places in England being dropped from Monday, new official guidance says businesses should “encourage and recommend” the wearing of masks on their premises.
The advice is in line with the appeal to “go slow” set out by the Prime Minister and Professor Chris Whitty a week ago.
Guidance from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy states: “Consider recommending the use of face coverings by workers and customers as a safety measure, in enclosed and crowded spaces where they may come into contact with people they don’t normally meet.
“In the long term, we expect that businesses will need to take fewer precautions to manage the risk of Covid-19.”
Will I need a vaccine passport after 19 July?
The guidance for businesses also encouraged hospitality businesses to consider making customers show proof of their vaccination status to enter their premises.
This raised the prospect of “vaccine passports” being required for entry to pubs, bars and restaurants. It followed the Prime Minster announcing that they mandatory in large venues such as nightclubs that fail to introduce them on a voluntary basis.
Updated guidance said the Government “will work with organisations that operate large, crowded settings where people are likely to be in close proximity to others outside their household to encourage the use of the NHS Covid pass.”
It added: “The Government will consider mandating the NHS Covid Pass in certain venues at a later date… if sufficient measures are not taken to limit infection.”
People can prove their vaccination status through the NHS Covid Pass, which you can apply for online via the NHS app.
How are amber list travel rules changing?
Under new measures announced by Grant Shapps, travellers arriving from destinations on the amber list will not have to quarantine if they have had both doses of the Covid vaccine, or if they are under 18.
Previously, anybody arriving in the UK from a nation on the amber list had to quarantine for 10 days (although they could take a “test to release” on day five), as well as taking PCR tests on days two and eight.
In their current form, the new rules only apply to UK residents arriving in England, Scotland and Wales (and people who have received their vaccines from the NHS), although Mr Shapps has said it is hoped this will be extended to the US and EU countries “later this summer”.
People returning from holidays in amber destinations, including the likes of Spain and Portugal, will still be required to take a Covid-19 test three days before returning, and must take a test on or before the second day after their return.
Although the changes widen the options for British holidaymakers, it is important to check the entry requirements for your desired destination (available via the Foreign Office’s travel advice) and ensure that it is welcoming visitors from the UK, and what certification they require.
Travellers must also consider the Government’s guidance on non-essential travel, which operates separately to the traffic-light system, and can have severe ramifications for travel insurance.
When does self-isolation end?
Self-isolation rules will remain in place after 19 July but will change less than a month later, Sajid Javid confirmed.
The Health Secretary said that fully vaccinated adults and anybody under 18 will be exempt from Monday 16 August, unless they test positive for Covid.
Current self-isolation guidelines will remain in place for those who have only received one Covid jab, or who are yet to receive their first dose.
Mr Javid said the country “will soon be able to take a risk-based approach that recognises the huge benefits that the vaccine provides”.
He added: “This new approach means we can manage the virus in a way that is proportionate to the pandemic while maintaining the freedoms that are so important to us all.”
More than 7 million people in England have received a call or notification from NHS Test and Trace asking them to self-isolate after coming into contact with a positive Covid case since the policy was introduced.
Below are the latest rules from 17th May 2021:
A poster for stage 3 can be downloaded here
For up-to-date business advice from the government visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses
For further guidance to employers on claiming wages vists: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme
NOTE (9th April 2021)
A new government campaign starts today urging everyone to get tested twice weekly. Although many will be able to access the tests via their workplace, for those working from home or family members who are not able to, you can now order your own tests.
The government link to the press release is below:
Pharmacies will be stocking test kits but if you prefer you can order test kits online, this link will take you to the page, you will need to register and commit to entering your results Online or contacting 119.
Lateral Flow Home Test link. https://www.gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests
NOTE (14th December)
On Friday the government announced revised rules on Self Isolation (SI) from 14 days to 10 days coming into effect today.
The self-isolation guides on the Kernow HR Toolkit have been updated to reflect the new rules. https://www.kernowhr.uk/covid19coronavirus
Key Points to consider:
- If you have an employee that is SI at the moment and they have completed at least 10 days and have no symptoms they may return to work.
- If an employee develops symptoms within the 10 days, then the must continue to SI for a further 10 days.
- If after 10 days the symptom of a high temperature is still present the employee must continue to SI until 48hrs after the fever, as they may still be infectious. They can contact 111 for further advice.
- The SSP can be claimed back for the 10 days SI instead of the 14 days. (gov website still saying 14 days but this is expected to change)
- It is also understood that the NHS Test and Trace app will not be updated until Thursday, however employees can return to work Monday – Thursday if they are within the new 10 day guidelines.
NOTE (2nd November):
The Government has issued updated guidance on the furlough scheme for the second lockdown.
NOTE (28th September):
From today new regulations regarding breaking of Self Isolation guidelines come into force.
Although it is ultimately an individual’s responsibility to follow the guidance, it is also clearly laid out the responsibility of the employer (reg 7).
This makes it an offence for an employer to knowingly permit a worker (including an agency worker) to attend any place other than where the individual is self-isolating. This includes individuals who are required to self-isolate because they live with someone who has tested positive.
So, if an employer knows a worker has tested positive (or lives with someone who has tested positive), it is now responsible for stopping the worker from working (unless they can work from home). Any employer who fails to do so will face a fine, starting at £1,000.
There is also an obligation on the worker to tell their employer that they are self-isolating (reg 8). Any individual who breaches self-isolation will, normally, commit a separate criminal offence (reg 11).
For further details the link to the published regulations is:
NOTE (24th July):
The Government has issued updated guidance on Working safely during coronavirus.
As the rules for PPE use, travel, face coverings and working from home have been updated, the following pages have been updated to reflect the changes:
Additionally, Offices and Contact Centres, section 2.3 has been updated with regards to ventilation in offices.
NOTE (26th June):
There are ongoing changes to the Flexible Furlough Scheme and updated FFS agreements have been added below (both for those on regular working patterns and variable working patterns)
More information can be found by logging into the Kernow HR site: kernowhr.uk/covid19coronavirus
NOTE (15th April):
The government has just issued an announcement changing the qualifying date of the Job Retention Scheme from 28th February to 19th March 2020. This will enable you to furlough those employees who started with you in early March.
The exact wording is:
The employer must have a pay as you earn (“PAYE”) scheme registered on HMRC’s real time information system for PAYE on 19 March 2020 (“a qualifying PAYE scheme”).
Full information from HMRC can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme
Visit our Knowledge Hub where we will be providing answers to the biggest questions you want to know as this situation progresses.
During this crisis we are working with other industry bodies and organisations to share and distribute up-to-date advice and guidance as the situation unfolds.
Here is a list of downloadable PDFs and letter templates that will inform you on job and employment related matters within the pandemic situation.
- HSE Pandemic Update March 2021
- Extended Job Retention Scheme FAQ
- Government Roadmap Stages 1-2
- Government Roadmap Stages 3-4
- HSE Inspections Bulletin
- Coronavirus Newsletter
- Self Isolate Guide
- Furlough Leave
- Furlough Holiday Bulletin
- Fact Sheet – Key Workers
- Job Retention Scheme Guidance
- COVID-19 Cleaning Methods for MHE and Plant
- BITA UKMHA COVID-19 Joint Statement
- RA67 – Dealing with the outbreak of a communicable disease
- Fact Sheet – Returning to Work
- Coming to and from work – COVID 19
- Safe workplace – COVID 19
- COVID-19 checklist poster
- RA68 – Returning to Work
- RA Contents List
- Washing Flow Diagram
- Keep Surfaces Clean
- Protect Maintenance Engineers
- Flexible Furlough Scheme
- Fact Sheet – Managing a COVID secure supply chain
- Nine questions employers have asked about self-isolation
- RA69 – Close proximity working during a pandemic
- Extended Job Retention Scheme FAQ 02.11.20
- Employing Foreign Nationals Post Brexit FAQ
- Furloughing Template Letter
- Furlough Explanation Template Letter
- Furlough Leave Agreement
- Furlough Ending Template Letter
- Employee Furlough Q&As
- RA67-Communicable Disease
- Fact Sheet – Key Worker Testing
- Record of returning to the workplace after lockdown conversation
- Visitors COVID-19 Questionnaire
- RA68 – Returning to Work
- RA Contents List