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May, 2020

Returning to work: employment law issues explained

Posted on: May 20th, 2020 by Ginny Hallam

Getting back to business and reopening your doors brings with it plenty of practical and people challenges. Whether that’s how to unfurlough employees, managing employees reluctant to come back to work, or how furlough impacts a redundancy process…there’s a lot to think about!

To guide you in comprehensive detail through the employment law issues, considerations and risk factors, we’ve created a brand new return to work guidance note. Our straight-talking, user-friendly guidance covers:

  1. Ending furlough – the do’s and don’ts when ‘unfurloughing’ employees
  2. Reluctant returners – 11 potential scenarios and your options for managing them
  3. Annual leave and bonus – how the new holiday carry-over laws work in practice and your options for deferring bonuses
  4. Health and safety – employment law risks, how to deal with concerns and protection for certain groups
  5. Day to day employee management – how to adjust your processes accordingly (conducting remote performance or disciplinary meetings for example) to maintain fairness and compliance
  6. Sickness absence and sick pay – the rules around SSP and when it’s payable
  7. Redundancies – the implications of the pandemic and furlough, maintaining a fair process, selecting employees and redundancy pay

Our guidance note will provide you everything you need to minimise the employment law risks, challenges and people issues in getting back to business. Click here if you’d like to purchase a copy (£250+VAT).

Supporting employees to stay healthy and happy

Posted on: May 19th, 2020 by Ginny Hallam

Mental Health Awareness Week landing amidst the ongoing pandemic again highlights the challenges you face in supporting your teams to stay healthy and happy. You may have employees physically back at work, working remotely, or still furloughed, each with their own needs and concerns.

ACAS has released guidance on supporting mental health at work during coronavirus, with communication being key – whether that’s regular contact with those working remotely, or actively listening to the concerns of those returning to work.

Here’s a reminder of our thoughts on helping your teams to stay healthy and happy and keeping your communication fresh, fun and focussed. If you have access to Intelligent Employment, you can find even more suggestions in our ‘Ideas for supporting human be-ins‘ document (under the ‘HR tools’ header).

Mental health toolkit

As an employer, you’re not expected to be a medical expert, but you play a huge part in promoting employee well-being and mental health. We’ve created a user-friendly toolkit providing you and your managers the knowledge, skills and tools necessary to support your team’s mental health needs within the wider employment law context. If you’d like to find out more about what’s included, click here.

Obligations and obstacles: managing a safe return to work

Posted on: May 18th, 2020 by Ginny Hallam

Creating clarity amongst the confusion is a challenge. Our safe return to work policy will help you with:

Safe working practices – every workplace is different and will require a different approach, but this policy will ensure you’ve communicated the measures you’ve taken and secured employees’ agreement. We’ve included a list of suggested measures for you to consider (eg. implementing room occupancy limits, one-way systems, staggering start/ finish and break times, closure of common areas etc.).

Dealing with travel to/ from work – set out the need to avoid public transport and to obtain consent from their manager where they cannot, along with how to safely navigate different travel solutions during COVID-19 in line with the most recent government guidance.

Understanding risk – ensuring your people know where to find your assessment (published on your website if you have more than 50 employees), how to make constructive suggestions on improving working practices and any training requirements.

Testing – securing consent to temperature test when entering your premises (if you’re using such measures), explaining you may require employees to book themselves a test, or that you can book one on their behalf.

Contact-tracing – once the government app is up and running, you’ll want to know that your employees are using it appropriately and notifying you if the app requires them to self-isolate. This will enable you to take proactive steps to trace potential transmission in the workplace.

Actions outside of work – whilst it’s important to focus on safe practices at work, it’s futile if employees aren’t adhering to government guidance outside of work too. Without setting out your expectations for behaviour outside of work, you won’t be able to deal with breaches (e.g. if an employee has been issued with a police caution or fine for failure to comply with government guidance).

Managing concerns – to prevent concerns being escalated externally with the Health and Safety Executive, confirm you’ll take concerns seriously, set out who they should report them to in the first instance and how you’ll deal with them.

Inappropriate behaviour – set out the consequences of failing to follow your policy including disciplinary action and the right to send employees home and without pay for breaches.

Click here to purchase a copy of our ‘safe return to work’ policy (£120+VAT).


This update is accurate on the date it was sent (19 May 2020), but may be subject to change which may or may not be notified to you. This update is not to be taken as advice and you should seek advice if anything contained within affects you or your business.

Reopening and risk assessments

Posted on: May 15th, 2020 by Ginny Hallam

As workplaces are encouraged to reopen, the government has released sector specific guidance about how to do so safely. You’ll need to complete a COVID-19 risk assessment.

This means you need to think about the COVID-19 risks your workers face and do everything reasonably practicable to minimise them – although there’s no expectation for you to eliminate the risk completely.

There’s more legal provisions you’ll need to consider, but here’s a few suggestions on how to stay COVID-19 secure: 

Risk assessment – if you’ve not already done so you should carry out and document an assessment of the risks posed by COVID-19. If you have fewer than five workers, there’s no requirement for you to write down your risk assessment – although it’s good practice to do so.

Publishing your risk assessment – you should share the results of your risk assessment with your workforce. If you have more than 50 workers, you should publish the results on your website.

Display safety notice – all businesses are expected to display and download the ‘Staying COVID-19 secure in 2020’ notice in the workplace to confirm you’ve complied with the government safety guidance. You can access it here.

Safe return to work policy – it’s good practice to set out the actions you expect employees to take to create a safe working environment (e.g. room occupancy limits, one-way systems and implementing social distancing marshals).

Beyond the measures at work, you can also set out how you expect them to behave outside the workplace. This allows you to take appropriate action for any breaches of the government guidance – irrespective of where the breaches take place. To access our safe return work policy, click here.

Training – it’s good practice to provide training to employees on the safety measures being implemented. You should ensure you maintain a training register to document the training undertaken and consider asking employees to sign to confirm that they have attended and understood the training.

Here’s the government and Health and Safety Executive guidance – you can find them in our ‘useful links’ if you need them in the future.

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (15 May 2020), but may be subject to change which may or may not be notified to you. This update is not to be taken as advice and you should seek advice if anything contained within affects you or your business.

New details about holidays announced

Posted on: May 14th, 2020 by Ginny Hallam

Better late than never – the government has issued more detailed guidance setting out how to deal with holidays during the pandemic. From bank holidays to new rules on carry over, it’s all in there.

Click here to find the guidance in our ‘useful links’.

Confirmation that holiday (including bank holidays) can be taken during furlough – as you know, you’ll need to top up holiday pay to 100% of normal pay for days taken.

You can require employees to take holiday during furlough – provided you’ve explained why they’re being asked to do so and you’ve given them notice of twice the amount of holiday you want them to take (unless their employment contract says something different).

If you’re requiring employees to take holiday during furlough – consider any barriers to the employee resting, relaxing and enjoying their holiday. We’d recommend documenting your thoughts on the off chance you’re challenged in the future.

5.6 weeks’ holiday can be carried over to future holiday years with yours and the employees’ written agreement – if written agreement isn’t secured, then legally four weeks’ holiday can be carried over to the next two holiday years if it wasn’t reasonably practicable for the employee to take the holiday in the current holiday year for reasons connected to coronavirus.

The government has stated that furloughed workers are unlikely to need to carry forward holiday into future holiday years as they can take holiday during furlough.

Get in touch if you need to discuss holidays during the pandemic in more detail.

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (14 May 2020), but may be subject to change which may or may not be notified to you. This update is not to be taken as advice and you should seek advice if anything contained within affects you or your business.