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Archive

August, 2020

01 September change to furlough contributions

Posted on: August 28th, 2020 by Ginny Hallam

From 01 September, you’re required to contribute 10% of furloughed employees wages (along with NICs and pension contributions).

01 September – 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. You will need to continue to pay NICs and pension contributions.

01 October – The government will contribute 60% up to £1,875 and you will need to contribute the remaining 20% up to £625 when employees are furloughed. You can decide to top up employees’ wages beyond the 80% total while furloughed. You will need to continue to pay NICs and pension contributions.

01 November – The furlough scheme is due to end and you’ll be entitled to a one-off Job Retention Bonus of £1000 for every eligible employee continuously employed between 01 November 2020 and 31 January 2021. You’ll be able to claim the bonus after you’ve filed PAYE for January 2021 and payments will be made to you from February 2021. More detail here.

 

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

Redundancy series update #6 – adapting to remote consultation

Posted on: August 26th, 2020 by Ginny Hallam

Without doubt, consulting remotely is more challenging than face to face conversation. Whether it’s adjustments for disabled employees, poor WiFi connections or challenges with engagement, they all need to be considered in advance.

Here are our top tips to communicating and consulting through a redundancy process:

Make sure your first redundancy announcement is face to face – whether a video or group online meeting, it’s important everyone is told together about proposals for redundancies and they see you’re taking responsibility for your decisions.

Pre-empt technical issues – check the tech, ensure everyone has access to good WiFi, consider alternatives for those with tech challenges including in person meetings, more time for preparation and whether telephone calls would be better for some.

Companion challenges –it can be difficult to arrange a companion when everyone is attending the office so it’s an even greater challenge when individuals are working remotely. Think about how individuals at risk will make contact with their preferred companion, how they can discuss matters in advance of any meetings and where it proves too difficult, what support you can offer the individual with arranging their companion.

Creating a quiet space and time – personal challenges haven’t disappeared. Ensure that those with responsibilities at home are able to create time and space for a redundancy consultation meeting rather than multi-tasking.

Make time for absent employees – whether absence is due to furlough, ill health or family related leave, all employees must have been consulted with where they are at risk (and even if they’re not they’ll want to understand about major changes within your organisation).

Note meetings – while recording the meeting (with advance consent) is fine, our view is a recording can alter the tone of the meeting meaning managers are on edge and employees don’t communicate as they normally would. Having a note-taker is traditionally the route to a record of the meeting and still works well even if the meeting is remote

Get in touch if you need to discuss your remote consultation arrangements, or if you have any questions on what we’ve covered. In update #7 of this series we’re going to look at pooling employees appropriately. 

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (27 August 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.

Supporting mental health #4 – identifying your mental health champions

Posted on: August 26th, 2020 by Ginny Hallam

Whilst it’s important to train and support people to administer mental health first aid – who are the people responsible for promoting mental fitness?

We consider the proactive role of mental health champions in the workplace and how you can set them up for success:

Create clarity: be clear about what the role involves – create an internal advert and role profile. Reassure them that they’re not supposed to be therapists or psychiatrists, but that they just need to be caring and compassionate individuals who can help proactively to promote mental well-being, provide non-judgemental confidential support and sign-post employees in the right direction if further help is required.

Passionate people: as a volunteer, they’ll be taking on the role alongside their ‘day job’ so ask employees to apply and choose people that are passionate about supporting you to develop and promote well-being initiatives and willing to give their time. You may want to check with their manager that they’re able to give their time for the role.

Driving performance: set out in writing what’s expected of them, how they need to prioritise their own work to avoid concerns about their performance and sign-post them to support available for them personally too. To find out how to access the template letter confirming appointment to a mental health champion role, click here.

Internal profile: when launching the role and introducing your mental health champions, ensure everyone is clear on the support offered and how contact can be made. Be clear on the confidentiality of discussions and the role the mental health champions take.

Give them a voice: create a platform for your mental health champions to provide you with feedback on workplace mental well-being to help shape and influence your well-being strategy and initiatives.

Give them the tools: whilst they don’t need to be medical experts, having an ability to identify a colleague in need of expert support and a good understanding of how to approach a situation is crucial.

Mental health toolkit

Promoting employee well-being and mental health creates a more engaged workforce, reduces sickness absence and drives performance. We’ve created a user-friendly toolkit providing you and your managers with the knowledge, skills and tools 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 (plus access to our template relating to recruiting, introducing and rolling out mental health champions), click here.

 

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (26 August 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.

Glut of holidays? What are your options?

Posted on: August 24th, 2020 by Ginny Hallam

If holidays are accruing faster than your employees have time to take them, what are your options? 

Here are our thoughts:

  1. The government have allowed workers to carry over up to four weeks’ holiday into the next two holiday years if the reason they’ve not been able to take them is due to coronavirus. That means carry over is possible if your business has been so busy since March there hasn’t been the time to take holidays or employees have been furloughed and haven’t taken the holiday for example;
  2. You have the option to require employees to take holidays (by giving them twice as much notice as the holiday you require them to take) so if there’s still time in the year to require that they take holidays (perhaps if you’re expecting a slowdown) you may at least be able to reduce the accruing holiday liability;
  3. If you’re making redundancies then you’re able to ask employees to take holiday during notice periods again by giving twice as much notice as the holiday you require them to take (saving on lumpy holiday payments at a time when the individual may otherwise have been fairly unproductive);
  4. If you already have a generous holiday scheme which is adding to your holiday woes you could always buy back holidays (provided that in doing so you don’t take the employee below statutory minimum holidays of 5.6 weeks);
  5. Although the flexible furlough scheme can’t be used solely to fund employee’s holidays, if the employee is already furloughed there is nothing wrong in ensuring employees are still taking holidays (and you can use the furlough scheme to fund them in part).

Don’t forget that however busy you are as well as holidays giving employees the opportunity to recharge, they are a health and safety requirement under the Working Time Regulations so regular holiday reminders continue to remain important.

 

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (24 August 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.

Redundancy series update #5 – should you be asking for volunteers?

Posted on: August 20th, 2020 by Ginny Hallam

Voluntary redundancy is a route recognised by tribunals as a way of lawfully avoiding compulsory job losses. 

Here’s what you need to know:

  1. It can be offered at any point – voluntary redundancy can be offered at any point in the redundancy process. Usually though, you would offer voluntary redundancy at the beginning of a process as those who volunteer will not need to be taken through the remaining process.
  2. Why volunteer – avoiding the redundancy process is one incentive to volunteering, but usually you’ll need to offer a little more than that if employees are going to offer to leave. Whether it’s a lump-sum tax-free payment, payment in lieu of notice, or holiday pay rather than forcing individuals to take holiday during notice, you generally have flexibility to offer a package that’s right for the business, but also tempting for employees.
  3. Unfair dismissal – don’t forget that even if employees volunteer for redundancy, in law they’re classed as “dismissed” and so are still able to claim unfair dismissal. You therefore need to think carefully about how you frame the offer of voluntary redundancy. Be clear that you’re not prejudging the situation and ensure that your offer of voluntary redundancy doesn’t in any way discriminate against anyone with a protected characteristic.
  4. Setting a deadline – usually a good idea! One of the big incentives for you to offer voluntary redundancy is that you’re unlikely to have to continue with the redundancy process for those volunteering. If however, you’re still going to have to go through the process then the longer their decision takes, the less benefit there is to you offering voluntary redundancy.
  5. Pooling employees – if you’re doing so because you have more employees than roles available, think carefully before you offer voluntary redundancy (particularly if the voluntary redundancy offer comes before the scoring process). If individuals volunteer who you’d have preferred to keep, turning down their offer may show that you have prejudged the process and is likely to taint the rest of the discussions making successful unfair dismissal claims likely.

Always seek advice before offering voluntary redundancy to ensure you’re doing so fairly, and reducing the risk of possible unfair dismissal claims. In update #6 of this series, we’re going to look at pooling employees appropriately. 

 

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (20 August 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.