The UK government recently announced a new Job Support Scheme, which will replace the UK Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (the “Furlough Scheme”) upon its expiration on October 31, 2020. The Furlough Scheme has been in place since March 2020 to help employers cover up to 80% of the wages for employees who would otherwise have been laid off, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.
In a major announcement on Thursday, July 9, the UK government outlined how the UK Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will conclude. Also, the government has announced two new initiatives to prevent future unemployment and bring furloughed employees back to work.
In March 2020, Spain implemented an expediente de regulación temporal de empleo (ERTE) in Royal Decree-Law 8/2020 as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The ERTE is a scheme that allows companies to temporarily lay off staff or cut hours, while allowing these workers to obtain compensation. Under the scheme, employment contracts are not terminated but merely “suspended” on the grounds of force majeure.
On Tuesday, June 30, 2020, the Council of the European Union announced its list of “safe countries” from which the EU will allow entry by business and tourism travelers. The list will be reviewed every two weeks and may be updated if the coronavirus situation in other countries improves or worsens, the E.U. statement said.
As of June 15, 2020, non-essential retailers in the UK may reopen after months of being shut down. The government has published guidance for employers, employees, and self-employed persons on how to keep their workplaces “COVID-Secure.”
Mexico’s General Health Council (CSG) will add industries to the list of essential businesses effective June 1, 2020. The Mexican government is also expected to issue mandatory measures for all businesses to follow as a return-to-work requirement.
As an increasing number of countries are moving toward reopening their economies, many global employers must decide whether to require their employees to undergo COVID-19 tests before they can return to work. Before implementing a testing requirement, employers should carefully consider the potential for unintended consequences, such as discrimination based on testing results and the unreliability of certain tests.