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Covid-19

Dealing with parents’ requests for furlough

Posted on: January 7th, 2021 by Ginny Hallam

If you’re being asked to furlough employees with child-caring responsibilities, here’s what you need to know.

Alternative arrangements – you may ask them whether they have any in place. If they have, you may enquire as to why they are not able to use them. You can’t insist that they utilise those options, particularly if their reasons for not doing so are due to health and safety concerns for their child.

Primary child-caring – while you have no obligation to offer furlough, bear in mind that tribunals are still willing to accept that women take the primary child-caring role. In turning down a woman’s request for furlough to look after a child, a claim for indirect discrimination could follow – your refusal may need to be objectively justified to avoid liability.

Furlough can be used to support individuals with childcare – obviously the individual would need to be eligible for furlough to utilise furlough leave. Clearly you would need to carefully manage the expectations of other colleagues in respect of their requests for furlough.

Other options – if you’re keen to avoid furlough, you can remind the individual of their opportunity to take holiday or unpaid time off for emergency care, or unpaid parental leave where eligible.

Given the potential discrimination risks, always take advice from your expert lawyer before making a decision. Get in touch if you’re unsure how to approach these situations.

 

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (7 January 2021), 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 fitness #9 – living through lockdown

Posted on: January 5th, 2021 by Ginny Hallam

New year blues, lockdown living, home-schooling struggles and furlough fears will be common for many.

In our latest series update, we explore how you can best support colleagues with their mental fitness.

Proactive flexibility – new lockdown creates new worries… anything from childcare, future finances, to relationships. Ask managers to be proactive and check-in with their team on an individual basis to find out the support and flexibility they need. There’s plenty that can be done that doesn’t cost the earth – whether it’s flexing working hours around schooling, furlough, early holiday, there are options available.

Caring personally – working from home or being furloughed can make colleagues feel isolated and disconnected. Encourage managers to have video calls and chats with colleagues on a regular basis and think about how they can continue to socialise whilst away from the workplace. Click here for our ideas on supporting those working remotely.

Tooling up – with Blue Monday fast approaching and many struggling with their mental fitness, knowing how to identify mental health challenges and approach discussions about mental wellbeing can feel difficult with many managers worrying about saying the wrong thing. Give managers the tools to spot the early warning signs of a struggling colleague and practical guidance to support with conversations. To find out how to access our toolkit of practical mental health documents, click here.

Signposting support – promoting options to support with mental fitness is vital – from internal mental health first aiders and mental health champions, to employee assistance programmes or even charitable organisations, it all helps.

Mental health webinar

For further suggestions and information about how you can best support mental fitness at work, click here to access our free mental health webinar recording.

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. Click here to find out more.

 

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (5 January 2021), 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.

Fast furlough following national lockdown

Posted on: January 5th, 2021 by Ginny Hallam

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement last night, England will enter a third national lockdown with the list of businesses required to close featuring here. The restrictions are set to be in place until at least 15 February 2021.

If you’re forced to make use of the extended furlough scheme (currently available to 30 April 2021) as a result of the lockdown, remember to secure all furlough agreements in writing and in advance of placing employees on furlough. Without such steps you will not be able to claim the furlough reimbursement for the relevant period.

Useful links:

  1. Last night’s announcement
  2. Furlough rules
  3. List of businesses to close

Click here for more information about how we can support you with template furlough letters and FAQs.

 

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (5 January 2021), 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 fitness #8 – is it the season to be jolly?

Posted on: December 8th, 2020 by Ginny Hallam

With Christmas parties cancelled, tier restrictions remaining in place, individuals self-isolating and many just feeling like they can’t go home during the Christmas break (despite the government’s permission to do so) – colleagues may find themselves alone over the holiday period and struggling with their mental fitness.

We explore the practical steps you can take to best support colleagues during the holiday period.

Mental fitness calendar – being alone and without the usual work routine can make taking time off from work feel unsettling and create imbalance leading to challenges on mental fitness. Think about pulling together a suggested calendar of events and actions to invest in so that the holiday period feels less daunting and supports with a sense of achievement each day.

You could include remote get-togethers, a reading or podcast list that you might be able put to use post-Christmas, charitable activities and creating a team social plan for the year ahead.

Making time – whilst it might not be possible to have the usual Christmas get-together this year, it’s still important to make time to connect and catch up with colleagues – especially those who might be alone for most of the Christmas break.

Whether it’s arranging a virtual Christmas party, sending care packages or keeping a team social group going over the holidays, there are lots of ways to care personally and keep the festive spirit. Encourage managers to have a video call or chat with colleagues you know may be struggling over the Christmas break. Diary ahead to ensure an intrusive approach is avoided.

Tool up managers – knowing how to identify mental health challenges and how to approach discussions about mental wellbeing can sometimes feel difficult with many worried about saying the wrong thing. Give managers the tools to spot the early warning signs when a colleague is struggling and practical guidance of how to create the right setting and agenda scripts to help with conversations. To access our toolkit of practical mental health documents, click here.

Signpost support – it’s important to promote and signpost support options available to colleagues and how to access them during the Christmas break. This could be internal mental health first aiders and mental health champions who have volunteered to be available during the festive period, employee assistance programmes or even signposting to charitable organisations.

Mental health webinar

For further suggestions and information about how you can best support mental fitness at work, click here to access our free mental health webinar recording.

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. Click here to find out more.

 

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (8 December 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.

Homeworking and opportunities to ‘set up shop’

Posted on: December 3rd, 2020 by Ginny Hallam

There’s never been a greater time to progress self-employed ambitions. With change always comes opportunity and for those with a burning ambition to do it for themselves, being out of sight means the opportunity to create, innovate and develop business opportunities which may not be aligned to your own.

It seems that ‘side hustling’ is on the increase so what can you do to protect your business…

  1. Post termination restrictions – keep them up to date as your business grows and as you promote internally (they’re interpreted at the point they were signed, so if they haven’t kept up with the individual’s progression at best there will be gaps in the protection they offer). Ensure they require the employee to flag to you when they have secured work elsewhere and make disclosing restrictions to a new employer imperative.
  2. Confidential information – call out the ‘crown jewels’ in your employment contract, store the information securely and don’t share passwords flippantly.
  3. Right to search – include provision to do so within your employment contract and don’t forget to carry out an all-important ‘data protection impact assessment’ if you’re planning on searching emails and browser history.
  4. Put appropriate security measures in place – ensure that documents are password protected and there is a system in place to alert you to a significant download of information.
  5. Right to veto working for others – ensure your employment contracts insist upon employees disclosing work for others and give you the right to ask them to stop doing so.

Get in touch to discuss reviewing and updating your employment contracts.

 

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (3 December 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.