COVID-19: Job retention and RIDDOR guidance for community pharmacy employers

09 Apr 2020

Since launching a number of measures to protect jobs and support employees at the end of March, the Government have provided several updates and clarifications. Here we set out some of the common questions for community pharmacies, and scenarios.

NPA Members can also access advice on individual circumstances through the NPA Employment Advisory Service (on 0330 123 0558 / employmentadvice@npa.co.uk).

 

RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations)

On 3 April 2020, a joint statement was issued by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the Confederation of British industry (CBI). It highlights the need for employers to ensure safe working conditions during the coronavirus outbreak, they stress the importance of maintaining the health and safety of workers and the enforcement action that they will pursue in light of organisations breaching guidance from Public Health England on social distancing. Our Employment Law experts, Ellis Whittam share more information here.

Ellis Whittam have also provided a useful webinar on the job retention scheme and RIDDOR which can be watched on demand here.

 

Frequently Asked Questions on Job retention scheme (furloughing)

 

Can pharmacy staff be furloughed?

Gov.uk advises that where employers who receive public funding for staff costs, and where funding is continuing, employers are to use that money to continue to pay staff in the usual fashion – and correspondingly not furlough them. This also applies to non-public sector employers who receive public funding for staff costs. Organisations who are receiving public funding specifically to provide services necessary to respond to COVID-19 are not expected to furlough staff. In addition to the requirement for the employee’s role not to be publicly funded (for which monies will not be reducing), what is clear that any furlough payments claimed must go hand in hand with a downturn in work as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak and it is assumed most pharmacies will struggle to demonstrate this and, as such, will not be eligible for the job retention scheme.

However, in a small number of cases, for example where organisations are not primarily funded by the government and whose staff cannot be redeployed to assist with the coronavirus response, the scheme may be appropriate for some staff.  You should consider that if there is work available to do in a community pharmacy, and if a staff member’s role can be redeployed to assist with the coronavirus response, then furloughing is not in line with the scheme.

Some staff employed in community pharmacy, for example those whose role is to sell cosmetics, may have little or no work and may be eligible for furlough in line with the scheme. Employers should assure themselves that the revenue that supports their role is private before going through the furlough process.

 

Will the scheme be up and running for April’s payroll?

As things currently stand the government have said that the scheme should be up and running in time for April’s payroll and there should not be any delay in receiving the payments.

 

How will the process be audited by HMRC if I put in a claim to furlough my staff?

The guidance currently states that HMRC will check each claim at the point of it being received. They also retain the right to retrospectively audit all aspects of any claims which are made.

 

What information do I need to apply to furlough my staff?

The online claim service for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be launched on GOV.UK on Monday 20‌‌ April 2020. Any entity with a UK payroll can apply, including businesses, charities, recruitment agencies and public authorities.

 

What happens to my furloughed staff following them returning to work after their furloughed period?

For further information, visit https://elliswhittam.com/covid-19/partnerships/ and register for this free employment law support for NPA members.