· 1 min read · News

12 months of 2020: March


In a year that has catapulted people professionals to the top of every agenda, our 12 Days of Christmas countdown reviews what made the headlines in 2020.

UK responds to coronavirus outbreak

On the 2 March the UK government holds its first COBRA meeting to discuss its response to the coronavirus pandemic, releasing its action plan a day later.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announces his first budget including £30 billion allotted to help bolster the economy through the pandemic.

The budget includes funds to protect people’s jobs under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) which can be claimed from April. A support package for self-employed workers (the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant) is announced three days later.

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is made a temporary day one right for all employees. To alleviate the administrative toll on businesses during the crisis, the government’s changes to off payroll working are deferred a year, and it suspends mandatory gender pay gap reporting which critics say will set workplace equality back by decades.

On 24 March the country enters its first widespread lockdown with the message: “Stay at home. Protect the NHS. Save lives.”

HR in crisis mode

Practically overnight, people teams rush to ensure employees can work from home and set about navigating the rules of the CJRS.

A third of UK businesses say they plan to reduce workers’ hours, and early concerns for peoples’ mental wellbeing during the pandemic are flagged.

The best bits of HR magazine from March 2020:

In-work poverty: All work and no pay

Our cover story looks at the alarming rate of in-work poverty even before the pandemic hits and asks what HR can do to help alleviate the strain.

Protecting people's futures at the PPF

We speak to chief people officer Katherine Easter about what it takes to lead the Pension Protection Fund.

How can businesses stay safe during a virus outbreak?

And we ask what businesses need to consider if they are to steer their people through this year’s crisis.

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