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Holidays, Quarantine and Where the Jobs Are - Your COVID-19 Update

Holidays, Quarantine and Where the Jobs Are - Your COVID-19 Update
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by
Managing Director

We've had a lot of changes announced in the news recently and it can be hard to keep up with it all. Here, we've curated some of the points we believe will be the most important for our readers, including quarantine rules when travelling abroad and what happens if you get caught up in a newly quarantined country, and how the job market is unfolding. 

As has become a familiar feature of COVID-19, changes to how we work, where we work and what it involves happen on an almost daily basis. Here’s a roundup of what you need to be aware of right now and some thoughts on how the landscape is likely to shift in the coming weeks.

Furlough Winds Down

The furlough scheme is now being wound down and as a result, we’re likely to see a number of redundancies as businesses are being required to resume more of the burden of wages. Prior to August, the Government paid 80% of wages (capped at £2500 per month). In August, employers once more became responsible for Employers National Insurance and Pension contributions. As of September 1st, employers must now also contribute 10% of the wages with the government contributing 70%. In October, employers will pay 20% and the taxpayer will pay 60%. As of the end of October, employers will once more resume full responsibility. At this point, non-viable businesses will be forced to either restructure, pivot or close. All options are likely to result in job cuts.

Hardest Hit

Retail, Hospitality and Travel have been worst hit during the pandemic. This is borne witness by the number of closures and redundancies being announced. At the end of August, Gatwick Airport announced plans to cut 600 jobs (on top of 200 job cuts in March). Pret a Manger announced 3000 jobs to go amidst the closure of 30 stores. The Eden Project is to axe 169 jobs, Virgin has cut 1150 jobs, and Costa Coffee, 1650. Young people who have traditionally filled many of these roles have been particularly hard hit.

Traineeships

It’s not all doom and gloom, however. The Government has announced a scheme to pay for traineeships for 16-24-year olds for up to six months. This is fantastic news giving younger people valuable experience in a work environment whilst relieving the burden of cost from the employer. It’s also a significant incentive to encourage businesses to assume responsibility for upskilling the younger workforce and help keep the economy moving.

Holidays abroad

The Government has been encouraging people to take their holidays abroad to support the travel sector. Whilst the lure of Mediterranean beaches may be strong, there are potential drawbacks which should be given serious consideration before booking that flight.

Coronavirus spikes are leading to some countries previously thought safe to be placed on the quarantine list. This means travellers returning from these destinations are required to self-isolate for 14 days on return. The countries being added to the quarantine list changes weekly and usually with 24-hours-notice, leaving travellers little time to return to the UK before the regulations are enforced. Before you travel, ask yourself whether you can work from home should you find yourself under quarantine, whether your company will pay you for the time you cannot be in the office and if not, whether you can afford not to be paid for that period. The government has announced a measure of financial support for workers in low-income parts of England who are unable to work from home but who are required to self-isolate. This aid, open to those who test positive for COVID-19, those members of their household who are eligible and required to self-isolate and also for contacts who are not part of the infected individual’s household. However, it only amounts to up to £182 for the period of self-isolation and will not be available to those who have been deemed to have put themselves at unnecessary risk. Travel abroad constitutes an unnecessary risk. Indeed, employers are within their rights to cancel staff holiday plans should it be deemed that an enforced two-week quarantine period of that particular worker would negatively impact company productivity. Interestingly, the National Health Service (NHS) has taken a stand too, stating they will not pay Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) to staff who have previously refused to wear masks.

 

Good News:

Some sectors have experienced unexpected booms during the pandemic. Tesco has announced it’s looking to take on 16,000 workers due to the upswing in their online trade. Electrical goods retailer, AO.com is hiring 650 staff. In June, courier firm DPD announced it’s hiring 6000 workers across the board, from HGV drivers, warehouse operatives, managers and support staff, and Hermes is looking for 9000 more couriers plus 1500 full-time staff. The Co-Op is creating 1000 new jobs and Amazon is also expanding, with an additional 7000 new jobs to be created before the year is out. The Government has also announced they’re pushing forward with HS2, the long-awaited high-speed rail link, which will require 22,000 workers to complete.

Working patterns are changing too, with the number of staff working ‘exclusively’ from home now down to 20% as opposed to 38% in June. This is a positive step forward for the auxiliary supporting businesses reliant on office trade and footfall.  

There is no doubt, COVID-19 has changed everything and we will continue to feel its impact for many years to come. However, it’s likely we’ll continue to see Government initiatives for upskilling and cross-skilling the workforce and it’s worth keeping up to date with the sectors where jobs are increasingly in demand. There may well be the opportunity to re-train and move laterally into these areas in the coming months.

 

ASL Recruitment was established in 1999 and has been serving Hastings and the surrounding area ever since placing temporary and permanent roles across a variety of sectors including Industrial and Manufacturing, Legal, Finance, Marketing, Technology and Office Support, from junior up to board level. Our co-founder and Managing Director, Jason Perry is an HR specialist and a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. For further information on our recruitment or consultancy services, email hastings@aslgroup.co.uk or call us on 01424 452999.