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Employment Law

Rehiring previous employees

Posted on: April 3rd, 2020 by Ginny Hallam

We all want to do the best and the right thing during this crisis. Clearly for those previous employees who were on the payroll on 28th February and now without employment, the challenges are huge.

The government’s official guidance is that those employees on your 28th February payroll who were made redundant and then rehired can be furloughed (the government do not go on to say that this is the case for any other employee). Click here if you’d like a copy of our template response to requests for rehiring.

If you’re looking for ways to support previous employees without rehiring them here are a few suggestions:

  • Provide online training courses without charge (think CV writing, interview skills, new business start-up coaching)
  • Put them in contact with recruitment agencies for roles that might be available now
  • Suggest a volunteer group they could support (a great addition to their CV for when the market picks up)
  • Direct them to government agencies which might be able to help with financial support
  • Support with a reference which sets out the role they did and their responsibilities

We’ve partnered with Working Transitions, experts in organisational and personal change, to provide you access to their relevant online resources. Click here to find out more.

Furloughed employees and annual leave

Posted on: April 2nd, 2020 by Ginny Hallam

Although the government have relaxed the rules on holiday carry-over, employers need more guidance on a number of key annual leave issues (particularly due to the rapidly approach ‘Easter break’).

We don’t have all the answers but we do have a few thoughts on how to approach annual leave at the moment, specifically:

Do furloughed employees accrue holiday? 

Yes, statutory annual leave continues to accrue along with additional holiday entitlement (unless you’ve agreed otherwise in respect of the latter).

Can furloughed employees take holiday without jeopardising your right to a reimbursement under the Job Retention Scheme?

In short, we don’t know and need clarification from the government. As things currently stand, if you go ahead and allow employees to take holiday during furloughed leave you risk jeopardising the entire three week furlough period within which the holiday falls and in respect of which you should have secured a government reimbursement.

In respect of bank holidays, for the moment you’ll need to stop furloughed employees from taking them to ensure that you don’t jeopardise your opportunity to secure the government reimbursement.

Do I need to allow employees to carry over holiday entitlement under the new rules?

We know that for a lot of employers, allowing holiday carry-over into future years is more of a challenge than an opportunity. But bear in mind, failing to allow your employees the opportunity to take their statutory holiday will be a breach of the Working Time Regulations. The new carry over provisions mean that there should be no reason for such a breach.

  • From 26th March annual leave can be carried over into the two holiday years immediately following the year it was lost.
  • This is only the case where it has not been reasonably practicable for the employee to take their annual leave due to the effects of coronavirus on the employee, the employer, the wider economy or society.
  • This new right applies to four weeks of annual leave.
  • Case law suggests that it’s the first four weeks of annual leave taken (or which should have been taken) that this new right relates to.
  • It applies to furloughed and non-furloughed employees.
  • Employees may argue that self-isolation, sickness and even furloughed leave means it was not reasonably practicable for them to take their annual leave.
  • Any remaining annual leave under statute (1.6 weeks) or under contract will need to be taken in the holiday year it accrues or be carried over with agreement.

We’ve created two bespoke support kits to help guide you and your managers through these challenging times. The ‘starter’ and ‘manager’ kits cover everything you need before furloughing employees, through to helping managers keep in touch, support well-being and maintain the engagement of their teams while furloughed. Click here if you’d like to find out more.

Executive People Update

Posted on: March 30th, 2020 by Ginny Hallam

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

Coronavirus and holiday carry over

Employees who’ve not been able to take all their statutory annual leave entitlement due to COVID-19 will be entitled to carry up to four weeks unused leave into the next two leave years. The Working Time (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 ensure that employers can offer flexibility in the future if granting leave now would leave them short-staffed, as well as ensuring workers aren’t losing out on their entitlement due to the virus.

We’re still trying to work out whether employees continue to accrue holiday during furlough leave and whether they can take holiday whilst furloughed. We’ll update you as soon as we have an answer (hopefully tomorrow).

Can employees insist they’re furloughed?

In short, no. It’s your choice as to who you designate as a furloughed employee. That being said, usual employment law still applies so make sure selection criteria is fair, objectively justified, non-discriminatory and communicated. Click here if you’d like to discuss in more detail.

IR35 reforms – suspended

The reforms due to come into force on 6th April 2020 will now be suspended until 6th April 2021 due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

Gender Pay Gap Reporting – suspended

The Government Equalities Office and the Equality and Human Rights Commission have decided to suspend gender pay reports for this year to reflect the unprecedented pressure on businesses and organisations at this time. If you’ve already collated your date and created a narrative, it’s still possible for you to voluntarily publish your data.

Good Work Plan – 6th April 2020

A reminder of the changes still due to take place on 6th April:

*Employment contracts to be issued on, or before day one for all new starters

*Employment contracts for all new starters to include:

  • Days of the week the worker/employee is required to work
  • Whether working hours are variable and how this will be determined
  • Any paid leave the worker/employee is entitled to
  • Details of all remuneration and benefits
  • Details of any probationary period
  • Training entitlement (whether this is mandatory or paid for by the worker/employee)

*Holiday pay reference period extending from 12, to 52 weeks

We’ve created ‘starter’ and ‘complete’ support kits to help you deal with the challenges these uncertain times present. Click here to find out how we can support you and your business.

New government guidance on furlough working

Posted on: March 27th, 2020 by Ginny Hallam

The government have updated their guidance in respect of furlough working and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Click here to access the latest guidance in full.

It’s a good, generally easy to understand guidance note which includes information on:

  • Treatment of employer national insurance contributions
  • Employees receiving SSP who would otherwise have been furloughed
  • Which employees are covered by the Job Retention Scheme
  • How to calculate the wage costs which are covered by the scheme
  • Whether employees can train or volunteer whilst furloughed

Before you send your first furlough letter, you should have in mind these key considerations.

We’ve updated our furlough Q&A document and template letter for employees – click here if you’d like to access.

Our policy for dealing with coronavirus

Posted on: March 4th, 2020 by Ginny Hallam

Minimising risk, avoiding disruption and staying healthy – we’ve created a policy setting out the responsibility employees must take to protect themselves, their colleagues and the business.

Here’s what the policy includes

  • Preventative measures
  • Travel planning
  • Full disclosure requirements
  • Proactive management in the event of an outbreak
  • Entitlement to pay during self-isolation

There’s a small fee of £120+VAT to access our policy. If you’d like a copy, click here.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 have also been announced outlining powers and steps the Government can take to restrict personal travel, movement and activities to prevent further transmission of the virus.

The Regulations only take effect if the Secretary of State makes a declaration on www.gov.uk that coronavirus is a serious and imminent threat to public health.