The governments chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance has described how the NHS is admitting 1,000 new coronavirus patients each day, with a current total of 22,141 cases and the number of deaths rising to 1,408. However, he did emphasise that these figures would begin to stabilise and reduce in 2 to 3 weeks’ time. This estimate is in line with a statement made by the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, who predicts the peak of the virus in the capital will be 2 to 4 weeks away.
The news comes at a time when the UK is under full lockdown, with individuals only permitted to leave their homes for food, medicine and a daily walk, in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. However, for many non-essential businesses the drastic downturn in business is causing difficulties. Yesterday, Brighthouse and Carluccio’s were the latest UK companies to enter administration, with a loss of roughly 4,000 jobs. As the business landscape throughout the UK shifts, we take a look at the key updates your business should be aware of.
A glimmer of hope
Sir Patrick Vallance has described how the current social distancing measures are making a difference to infection numbers. The current daily increase in patients is stable with a daily rise of 1,000 per day, with figures expected to decrease in 2 to 3 weeks’ time. The daily rate of deaths was previously rising by roughly a third each day, however for the past 2 days the figures have been much lower than expected. Although this is a glimmer of hope, the dip in figures may relate to changes in working practices at weekends and infection rates.
An extension of the Brexit transition period
The campaign group Best for Britain has conducted a research poll using Focaldata, which has found 64% of those in the UK agree that the government should request an extension to the current transition period. The current period will expire at the end of December, however the ongoing talks to establish a trade deal are severely disrupted due to the coronavirus outbreak. In recent days the talks have been completely derailed with both Boris Johnson and the chief negotiator for the EU, Michael Barnier testing positive.
Annual leave rules to be relaxed
Employees who have not been able to take their usual statutory annual leave due to COVID-19, will be permitted to carry these days over into the next 2 leave years. Currently, most workers are entitled to 28 days paid holiday each year, which cannot usually be carried across to the following leave year. According to the new regulations up to 4 weeks of unused leave can be carried across, which will ease pressure on many businesses and their workers.
With many businesses such as supermarkets, pharmacies and hospitals working around the clock during the pandemic, these changes will ensure businesses have the staff they need without employees losing out on their entitlements. The changes are an amendment to Working Time Regulations, which also apply to agency workers, temporary workers and those on zero-hour contracts.
Support from Business Representative Organisations and Trade Associations
The government is working alongside numerous Business Representative Organisations and Trade Associations to provide support during the pandemic. There are many organisations which businesses can contact to avail of sector specific advice, without needing to be an existing member. The list includes:
- Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE)
- British Chambers of Commerce (BCC)
- British Retail Consortium (BRC)
- Confederation of Business Industry (CBI)
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