What a year it has been! With so much to discuss following 12 months of uncertainty and some of the most challenging moments of many of our lifetimes, we tasked our senior solicitor, Rafia Ahmad, to bring together the highs and lows from a legal standing…

We commenced 2020, still no closer to a deal on Brexit. With the exit from Europe dominating the headlines, no one could predict the impact that an unknown deadly virus would have on the world. The Coronavirus – Covid-19 has had an unprecedented effect on the lives of millions in the UK and worldwide.

The virus led to the UK government making unheard changes to our daily lives and work and introducing new concepts to employment law such as “lockdown”, “furlough” and “shielding”.

Below is our coronavirus employment law timeline of 2020. Looking back, it is incredible what has taken place in the employment law landscape, in a relatively short period of time – and at rapid speed – with the government responding to the ever-mercurial effects of the pandemic.

Hopefully, 2021 shall bring a more positive and safe future ahead.

From all of us at ESPHR, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

5 March  2020

In response to the pandemic, the UK government introduced the Statutory Sick Pay (General) (Coronavirus Amendment) (Suspension of Waiting Days and General Amendment) Regulations 2020. SSP will now be payable, on a temporary basis, from day one of sick leave and will be payable to those who are not sick but have been advised to self-isolate in accordance with government guidance.

23 March  2020

UK lockdown announced by the Prime Minster. All non-essential shops closed. Everyone informed to stay at home and only leave their homes for food shopping, medical care and exercise once a day. Shielding employees told to stay at home.

April 2020

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) is launched by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Under the CJRS, employers will be able, by agreement, to place designated employees on furlough leave for a period of at least three months and claim a grant equivalent of the lesser of 80 percent of each furloughed employee’s normal wage up to a cap of £2,500 per month.

May 2020

Working Time Regulations 1998 relaxed via the introduction of the Working Time (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020, allowing workers who have not taken all of their statutory annual leave entitlement to be able to carry it over into the next two leave years.

July 2020

Flexible furlough comes into play. Employers can bring employees back to work part-time and claim the CJRS grant for any hours not worked.

October 2020

Announcement of another nationwide lockdown for the month of November 2020.

October 2020

CJRS furlough scheme due to end on 31 October but now extended until 31 March 2021.

December 2020

Brexit! Deal or no deal. It remains to be seen but whatever the outcome of negotiations, there is no doubt 2021 will be an eventful year for employment law.


We are the HR and employment law experts from ESPHR.

It’s our mission to advise and develop the employment law capability of HR professionals wherever we can, helping HR teams make a real commercial difference to their organisations. That way, you spend less time solving operational issues and more time actioning projects that drive far-reaching change in your company.

Call 0333 006 2929 or email info@esphr.co.uk today to discover exactly how we can help you.


Author: Rafia Ahmad

Senior Solicitor, ESP Law Ltd

Rafia trained and qualified with Wedlake Bell LLP, a London City law firm where she was an employment solicitor for six years before moving to the fast paced trading floor of Cantor Fitzgerald LLP, a London based New York prime brokerage/investment bank as in-house employment counsel. Prior to joining ESP, Rafia was a senior employment solicitor for five years with Backhouse Jones, the UK’s number one national road transport law firm. She advises on all employment matters both contentious and non-contentious including tribunal proceedings.

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