Track and Trace – what the hell?

Just in case you thought it might soon be over, track and trace is there, like Freddy Kruger, waiting to suck you back into the nightmare.  Track, trace and lock ’em up for 14 days has not been thought through in practice.

How will you respond, whether as employer or employee, to these situations?

  • I’ve just had a call from a government clinician telling me to go home immediately for 14 days.
  • I know John has just had a call a government clinician telling him to go home immediately for 14 days.  If he’s still here in 5 minutes, I’m out of here [and I’ll see you in the employment tribunal if you don’t continue me on full pay while I’m gone].
  • Several have had the same instruction to go home, but we will miss the customer deadline and face a huge contract penalty (leading to more job losses). 
  • I don’t care what Matt Hancock thinks is a civic duty.  I’m not ill but I am willing and able to work.  I’m not going home except on full pay.

We will need to keep a close eye on laws that the government introduces, not just announcements of policy or guidelines that have no contractual effect on the right to pay while willing and able to work.  The last bullet point example above is a line of defence that many employees may be well advised to take unless or until the law provides clarity.

Meanwhile, employers stuck in the middle will be forced to bear the financial burden or to have some difficult conversations which may include threat of dismissal based on ‘some other substantial reason’ (essentially, need to maintain harmony and keep the workplace going).  These will be possible, but there will be many and easy opportunities for mistakes to be made and claims to arise.  Here is a previous post about the other issues which are wholly foreseeable.

Time to lawyer up!


Links to main government websites guidance for the job retention scheme guidance to employers and businesses about covid-19 support for businesses

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