Coronavirus Act comes into force

Implementation date: 25 March 2020

The Coronavirus Act 2020 introduces emergency measures considered necessary to deal with the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Some sections of the Act are commenced on 25 March 2020 (the date the legislation received Royal Assent). Other provisions of the Act, such as in relation to emergency volunteering leave and statutory sick pay, will be commenced by regulations.

The main measures are:

  • allow eligible employees to claim statutory sick pay from day one of their incapacity for work (this measure will apply retrospectively from 13 March 2020);
  • allow workers to be absent from work for up to four weeks to act as an emergency volunteer in health and social care;
  • increase the available health and social care workforce, for example by allowing recently retired NHS staff and social workers to return to work without loss of NHS pension rights (and in Scotland, in addition to retired people, allowing those who are on a career break or are social worker students to become temporary social workers);
  • ease the burden on frontline staff by reducing the number of administrative tasks they have to perform, enabling local authorities to prioritise care for people with the most pressing needs, allowing key workers to perform more tasks remotely and with less paperwork; and
  • contain and slow the virus by reducing unnecessary social contacts, and strengthening the quarantine powers of police and immigration officers.

The Act is a temporary measure to contain the spread of coronavirus.