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Archive

June, 2020

School’s out – flexible furlough’s in?

Posted on: June 25th, 2020 by Ginny Hallam

School holidays are just around the corner, as are potential childcare challenges. Government guidance and a lack of summer kids’ clubs are likely to hinder the usual family, friends or third-party care arrangements meaning employees could be looking to you again for flexibility.

‘Business as usual’, means you’ll need to balance your resourcing needs with possible flexibility for employees genuinely without childcare alternatives. So what are your options?

  1. Ask for evidence – if you suspect that efforts to manage childcare requirements have been light and your employee has failed to convince you of their genuine need to care personally for their children, you are able to turn down any request for flexibility. Although bear in mind that in doing so you could be refusing a statutory right, so take advice before taking this approach.
  2. Flexible furlough – it’s still possible to furlough employees for childcare reasons. The new rules give you the flexibility to have a conversation with employees about their childcare needs, and try and come to an arrangement where they’re able to work part of the week, and spend one or two days on flexible furlough. For more detail on how the new rules work, click here. Don’t forget these arrangements need to be made in writing.
  3. Unpaid parental leave – parents or those with parental responsibility can take up to four weeks’ unpaid leave a year per child. This may work for some, but prove an economic challenge for single parents or carers.
  4. Holiday entitlement – you could ask employees to cancel holiday booked later in the year and use it over this period, or even bring holiday forward from next year (providing this doesn’t take them below the statutory minimum next year). Likewise, if they share child-caring responsibilities with the other parent you could suggest they stagger their holidays so that between both parents they cater for four weeks’ of the holiday (if both take two weeks’ off).
  5. Flexible working – working from home, varied start/finish times and compressed hours are a few ways you can work with your employees to help balance the needs of the business and their childcare challenges. Embracing such arrangements may pay dividends year-round, and not just over the summer months.

Undoubtedly, every employee will have a different situation with unique challenges, so we’d always recommend taking early advice from us before tackling the situation.

 

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (25 June 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.

Flexible furlough – secure it in writing

Posted on: June 22nd, 2020 by Ginny Hallam

If you’re planning to make use of the new ‘flexible furlough’ rules from 1 July, government guidance requires you to write to those affected employees confirming this is the case.

We’ve created a straight-talking, user-friendly template letter for you to provide to those affected. Our template:

  1. Helps you explain why you still need to utilise the Job Retention Scheme
  2. Secures in writing the necessary detail to allow you to claim reimbursement under the new rules
  3. Provides a comprehensive 16 point FAQ to clearly explain the new status to employees, your expectations and their obligations during their period of flexible furlough
  4. Explains how their new status affects their employment rights, pay and benefits, holiday and more, helping to reduce the number of employee queries you’ll receive

Click here if you’d like to purchase a copy of our template (£120+VAT). 

 

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (22 June 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.

Take Action #1 / Unconscious prejudice – time for positive practices?

Posted on: June 18th, 2020 by Ginny Hallam

As we saw with #MeToo, we’re experiencing further cultural change which is likely to filter into working environments. The Black Lives Matter campaign highlights yet again the need for positive action around diversity. The ‘time to speak up’ is likely to mean employees feel they have a greater voice and power to address issues.

It’s likely that you’ve thought, discussed or planned to address imbalance of under-represented groups within your business, but if you look around have you been successful? Is there still unconscious prejudice at play? Do you need to take a more disrupting approach to equality? Is it really on your agenda?

Throughout this ‘Take Action’ series, we’ll be talking about some of the approaches you could take not only to present a more culturally contemporary approach to employment, but also reduce the possibility of a successful employment tribunal claim.

One approach you’re able to take is to positively address demographic imbalance by recruiting individuals from under-represented groups.

If you want to recruit an individual from an underrepresented group to address an imbalance, remember:

  1. You need clear evidence of an imbalance
  2. You are only able to favour a candidate because of a protected characteristic (like sex or race) if you can show that they are equally qualified as the next best candidate
  3. You can show that you’ve considered alternatives to your decision to positively discriminate
  4. That your approach to recruitment of under-represented groups is proportionate to the challenge you’re trying to overcome

Decisions and conversations involving protected characteristics are certainly challenging. Securing the right support and advice is key to achieving the right outcome, while minimising risk. We can support your with an unlimited advice resource to help with these challenges – click here to find out how. 

 

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (18 June 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.

Executive People Update

Posted on: June 17th, 2020 by Ginny Hallam

As part of keeping you in our focus during the coronavirus pandemic, our executive people update ensures you’re on top of the latest changes in legislation, case and employment law trends. Click here for more information about how we can support you to manage the latest changes.

Tribunal fees

According to The Times, the Ministry of Justice has asked the Law Commission to provide its recommendations for “a coherent system for charging and updating fees in the future”.

This is a welcome sign for many employers. Watch this space for more details.

Furlough fraud 

By the end of May, HMRC had received almost 1,900 reports of fraudulent use of the Job Retention Scheme. They’re now assessing the reports to determine actions and next steps. The figures are not broken down into specifics, however it’s likely those reported have been asking employees to carry out work while furloughed or furloughing employees without telling them.

An HMRC spokesperson has stated that if you’ve made a genuine mistake, they want to work with you to put it right. So if at any point you suspect you’ve made a mistake within your claim, it’s best to approach HMRC immediately to resolve the issue.

Face covering fines 

You’ll have no doubt seen in the news that wearing a face mask or face covering is now compulsory on public transport. Anyone not doing so can be refused aboard, and issued with a £100 fine. The rules only apply while on board public transport (not while waiting), however stations are encouraging people to use face coverings at all times.

You should make sure all employees required to travel to work via public transport are aware of these new rules, and have access to a suitable face covering allowing them to avoid potential fines or being unable to travel to work. The government have provided guidance on how you can make your own face covering at home.

 

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (17 June 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.

Flexible furlough – government guidance

Posted on: June 15th, 2020 by Ginny Hallam

Late on Friday the government released further detail on how the new ‘flexible furlough’ will work from 1 July.

Here’s a summary of the key detail. You can also access the full government guidance here

New flexibility

From 1 July, you can bring furloughed employees back to work for any amount of time or shift pattern. You can then claim for the usual hours they haven’t worked and spent on furlough through the Scheme.

You can only utilise the new flexible furlough rules for employees who have previously completed the minimum of three consecutive weeks on furlough. The last day an employee could have been furloughed for the first time was 10 June (this doesn’t include those returning from statutory family leave).

You’ll also need to:

  1. Reach agreement with employees in regards to the new flexible furlough arrangements.
  2. Confirm this in writing in order to make temporary changes to the employment contract (the employee doesn’t need to give you a written response).
  3. Keep a record of the agreement for five years.
  4. Keep a record of how many hours each employee works, and how many they spend on furlough.

You can place employees on flexible furlough for any amount of time, subject to the flexible arrangement being in place for a minimum of seven calendar days.

Your contributions

  1. July – None. Government contributions remain the same.
  2. August – You will need to pay NICs and pension contributions. The government will continue to pay 80% of wages up to £2,500  when employees are furloughed.
  3. September – You will need to pay NICs and pension contributions. The government will contribute 70% of wages up to £2,187.50 and you will need to contribute the remaining 10% up to £312.50 when employees are furloughed. You can decide to top up the employees wages beyond the 80% total while furloughed.
  4. October – You will need to pay NICs and pension contributions. The government will contribute 60% up to £1,875 and you will need to contribute the remained 20% up to £625 when employees are furloughed. You can decide to top up the employees wages beyond the 80% total while furloughed

We’re in the process of updating all of our furlough templates and guidance notes so you’re well prepared for 1 July. If you’ve already purchased, we’ll circulate to you directly, or if you’d like to purchase a copy of our flexible furlough letter (£120+VAT), click here

 

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (15 June 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.