Following Boris Johnson’s announcement of the Government’s winter COVID plan, the UK’s largest HR and employment law consultancy is stressing the importance of employers planning ahead.

Kate Palmer is HR Advice and Consultancy Director at Peninsula. She says: “While the main focus of the Prime Minister’s plan is vaccine rollout and booster jabs, he also mentioned the possibility of a Plan B, including a potential return to home working and mandatory face coverings.

“It is vital for all employers to start planning now, both in terms of continuing to encourage their employees to be vaccinated against both COVID and flu, as well as ensuring employees have everything they need in place to work from home again, should it become necessary.

“Of course, we are hoping that it is not necessary – everyone has been relieved that life has started to get back to some kind of normalcy recently – but with the potential for an increase in seasonal illness as well as a spike in COVID cases, it’s important to be prepared for any eventuality.”

Here are the top HR takeaways from today’s announcement for employers

  • Will businesses offer paid time off for employees to receive booster vaccines?
  • Will employers offer measures to encourage uptake of the flu vaccine?
  • Healthcare employers need to undertake processes to ensure they do not break the law in their care home/healthcare setting by letting someone continue front-line work if they have not provided evidence of full vaccination/medical exemption
  • Look at considerations on working from home to cover a period of self-isolation for employees who need to get PCR tests because of a contact notification
  • Employers will continue to pay SSP for self-isolation where the employee qualifies
  • Be prepared to implement home working at short notice

If in any doubt, seek expert advice to ensure you remain fully compliant and avoid any risk of a potential employment tribunal.