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Archive

July, 2020

Executive People Update

Posted on: July 30th, 2020 by Ginny Hallam

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

New legislation – redundancy payments 

It’s been announced that new legislation will come into force tomorrow (31 July 2020) to ensure that furloughed employees will receive statutory redundancy payments based on 100% of their normal pay, not at the reduced furlough rate.

Furlough contributions 

From 1 August you’ll be required to pay make NICs and pension contributions towards a furloughed employee’s pay (with the government continuing to pay 80% of wages up to £2500). From 1 September you’ll be required to contribute 10% towards those wages.

End to shielding restrictions 

From 1 August, individuals who are at significant risk if they contract coronavirus will no longer need to shield. They will still need to observe strict social distancing by minimising contact with others outside their household or support bubble. Provided your workplace is COVID-secure, shielding employees can return to work.

Furlough over-payment penalties 

The government announced on Wednesday that they would be issuing penalties for employers who have received over-payments from the Job Retention Scheme and have failed to inform HMRC. You can either:

  1. Let HMRC know as part of your next online claim if you’re continuing to furlough employees. Your next claim will be reduced to reflect the previous over-payment and you’ll need to keep a record of the adjustment for six years. Or;
  2. Contact HMRC directly to pay the money back if you’re not going to be furloughing employees further and therefore won’t be submitting another claim.

There are strict timescales within which you need to notify HMRC to avoid the penalties.

Self-isolation period extended 

The government has announced that the self-isolation period has been extended from 7, to 10 days, for anyone that has symptoms of coronavirus or has a positive test result. Anyone that has come into contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus will still have to self-isolate for 14 days.

 

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (30 July 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.

Holiday headache: quarantine, pay and more

Posted on: July 28th, 2020 by Ginny Hallam

On Saturday, if you were in or planning to travel to Spain, you were told you’d have to quarantine on your return for 14 days.

Unless your employee is covered by one of the exemptions listed here, they’ll have to self-isolate for 14 days, even if they get a negative test result. If they don’t self-isolate, they could face a fine of £1000 (or £3000 if they change their location during self-isolation).

What are your options as an employer if your employee intends to travel to a non-exempt country or the exempt status of the destination changes while they’re out there?  

  1. Work from home arrangements: if they’re able to work from home, make sure employees are set up to be able to do so as soon as they arrive back in the UK – for example, making sure they’ve got all the equipment they need already at home.
  2. Unpaid leave: if they’re not able to perform their job from home, you could require them to take the 14 days as unpaid leave. The government guidance is really clear that they’re not eligible to receive SSP for that period.
  3. Cancel travel abroad/ change destination: you’re not going to make any friends doing so, but it’s possible to cancel an employee’s holiday leave by giving them at least as much notice as the holiday you want them to cancel (subject to what’s detailed in their employment contract). You could also require them to change their preferred destination. Always take advice before doing so as these actions could give rise to possible claims.
  4. Flexible furlough: if you don’t have sufficient work for them to do from home, you could look to flexible furlough them (providing that they’re eligible). However, HMRC could challenge your decision at a later date if there wasn’t a genuine business reason for them to be placed on flexible furlough. It could also be damaging for employee morale as other employees who have chosen not to risk travelling abroad are likely to have to pick up the extra load whilst their colleague is getting another 14 days’ holiday at furlough pay!

To minimise issues moving forward, make sure you have in place a safe return to work policy or a coronavirus policy which includes the requirement that employees confirm:

  1. their travel arrangements;
  2. where they are going so that you can establish the date their quarantine ends and make appropriate plans;
  3. if they’ve not already booked, that they don’t book travel abroad without first seeking authorisation from you; and
  4. failure to do so will be treated as a disciplinary matter.

If you’ve not already, click here to find out more about our policies.

 

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (28 July 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.

Compulsory for customers – what about employees?

Posted on: July 24th, 2020 by Ginny Hallam

From today, for customers it is compulsory to wear face coverings in shops, supermarkets, shopping centres and transport hubs. Should you be asking your employees to take the same approach?

 

  1. If other mitigating measures are not in place (Perspex screens, social distancing) government guidance ‘strongly’ recommends that you should consider asking employees to wear face coverings but they are leaving the ultimate decision with you, the employer. If you’re unable to put other mitigating measures in place, requiring employees to wear face coverings can be justified as a measure to meet with your legal obligation to provide a safe working environment.
  2. Even if you do ask your employees to wear face coverings, you’re still required to follow the COVID-19 secure guidelines to reduce the duration and proximity of contact between employees. That includes cigarette breaks, lunchtimes and socialising before and after work.
  3. Employees reluctant to wear a mask might cite a number of reasons including health conditions such as anxiety, panic disorders, and respiratory issues. These concerns should be investigated and, if justified, adjustments made where the individual is disabled and the wearing of a mask puts them at a disadvantage.

Requiring your employees to wear face coverings may be a necessary step to foster a safe environment for both colleagues and customers. A blanket rule without alternatives and flexibility may give rise to reluctance and challenge. If employees are citing health concerns, seek advice from your lawyer to mitigate the risk of disability discrimination claims.

We’ve updated our ‘safe return to work’ policy in line with the latest government guidance on face coverings – click here if you’d like to access (£120+VAT).

 

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (24 July 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: equal pay, end of shielding restrictions, face coverings and more

Posted on: July 21st, 2020 by Ginny Hallam

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

Equal pay claims 

The Asda equal pay case has reached the Supreme Court to determine the legal question of whether warehouse and shop-floor roles are comparable for equal pay purposes. The decision has potentially far reaching consequences meaning you could have to review pay across your business (even across very different roles), to ensure you’re not at risk of an equal pay claim and the possible cost of six years’ worth of underpayments.

Judgement is expected to be delivered in the Autumn and we’ll provide you with the practical detail as soon as we have them.

End to shielding restrictions 

From 1st August, individuals who are at significant risk if they contract coronavirus will no longer need to shield. They will still need to observe strict social distancing by minimising contact with others outside their household or support bubble. Provided your workplace is COVID-secure, shielding employees can return to work now if they can’t work from home. From 1st August even if they’re able to work from home you are able to ask them to return to a COVID-secure work environment.

Compulsory face coverings 

From 24 July, it will be compulsory to wear face coverings in shops and supermarkets. Fines can be issued for up to £100 for those who fail to do so. The new rule will not apply to retail staff, children under 11 or those with certain disabilities. If you’re asking your customers to wear face coverings should you be asking your employees to take the same approach?

Furlough and notice periods 

Following some recent confusion around what the Job Retention Scheme can, and can’t, be used for, the government has now updated their guidance wording to make it clear that “you can continue to claim for a furloughed employee who is serving a statutory or contractual notice period”. If employees made redundant are serving notice on furlough, you can secure a contribution towards their notice pay from the Job Retention Scheme. That is not the case however for statutory redundancy payments which cannot be recovered through the Scheme.

Supporting domestic abuse victims 

During the national lockdown, Refuge, the largest charity providing support to domestic abuse victims, reported a 50% increase in calls to their helpline. The Domestic Abuse Bill is set to be debated in the House of Lords. Training on how to facilitate difficult conversations, a policy in place to explain abuse and its different forms, signposting employees to help available, providing flexibility for time off to seek support, and access to Employee Assistance Programmes are all valuable ways in which you can support employees who may be suffering abuse.

 

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (20 July 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 #3 / Doing more than ‘tick-box’ training

Posted on: July 16th, 2020 by Ginny Hallam

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Neslon Mandela, 1990.

Broadening outlooks and adjusting behaviours takes consistency, collaboration and commitment. There is a lot more than ‘tick-box’ training that you can proactively deliver to support an evolving culture which promotes diversity. 

Training on the promotion of diversity throughout the employment life-cycle will ensure that it’s always on the agenda – from management skills to recruitment, dealing with conflict to self-promotion, and whistleblowing to managing grievances. During any training session you can:

  1. Build learnings from your training sessions into leadership messaging to land key points consistently and repeatedly;
  2. Create platforms to share ideas and experiences confidentially. You’re likely to get more out of your sessions if you build in anonymous real-life examples and feedback from such platforms;
  3. Consider leadership and manager coaching as a follow up to broaden thinking and take braver people decisions.

If you want to do more than ‘tick a box’, and refresh your training to promote diversity across all aspects of employment, get in touch to discuss your needs.

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (16 July 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.