We heard from employers about how they’re dealing with the Coronavirus outbreak.

Through a series of surveys we have conducted with 70 HR leaders and in-house counsel (in a cross-section of businesses collectively employing over 200,000 employees) and our day to day discussions with our clients, we have seen the following:

The initial expectation was for staff to come into work and for those who wished to work from home, to notify colleagues and do so. However, as the situation worsened, more and more employers shifted the approach to all staff working from home unless there was a necessity to attend the workplace; offices therefore remained open for some time.

Around the same time as schools closed, we saw an increasing number of companies requiring all staff to work from home; this worked well with the necessity of parents who needed to balance their childcare / home schooling needs and their work. A portion of companies went on to close their offices during this time. Whilst some employers provided employees with laptops, other employees logged on using remote access login information on their personal computers (e.g. using Citrix).

The starting point for all employees was to work usual working hours. Nearly half of the employers were ready to be flexible; some employers emailed their staff to remind employees of their right to request flexible working and for some employees who took it up, it meant that they could continue working full time but each working day was split into working very early in the morning and after putting their children to sleep. A very only a tiny proportion expected employees to put in place alternative care arrangements for their children.

Employers moved quickly to prioritise keeping in touch with employees who are working from home due to Coronavirus, with stakeholders sending daily updates and positive words of encouragement. Significant effort was put into maintaining communications and social contact. Only a small number of employers have carried out risk assessments, though over time these numbers have increased.

Furloughing employees

The government announced on 20 March, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to provide UK employers with support for paying wages of staff who would otherwise have been made redundant as a result of Coronavirus (called “furloughing”). We have seen many businesses applying for this grant for a portion of their workforce as an alternative to making employees redundant and as a means of reducing costs. Furloughed employees remain employed but are asked to stay at home and are prevented from carrying out any work at all during this time for a minimum period of three weeks. Employees may be rotated on this scheme so that workloads may be shared out between employees.

For more support and advice, please contact Yoko Nakada on yoko.nakada@lewissilkin. We also have our dedicated Coronavirus hub and the government has published a short overview for employers and a separate overview for employees.
For further information, please contact Koichiro Nakada – Head of Japan Business Group (koichiro.nakada@lewissilkin.com) and Yoko Nakada - Senior Associate, Deputy Head of Japan Business Group (yoko.nakada@lewissilkin.com).
The information and any commentary on the law contained in this bulletin is provided free of charge for information purposes only. No responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by Lewis Silkin LLP or Centre People Appointments. The information and commentary does not, and is not intended to, amount to legal advice and is not intended to be relied upon. You are strongly advised to obtain specific, personal advice from a lawyer about your case or matter and not rely on the information or comments in this bulletin.

This information is supplied by Lewis Silkin LLP www.lewissilkin.comm

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