Whether you have a reduced requirement for employees to do work of a particular kind (redundancy) or you’re asking employees to change their hours or responsibilities, you need to be clear on your reasons.
Legally, you have considerable flexibility in arriving at your reasons but if you don’t communicate them effectively, a disrupted process and an increase in claims is likely.
Focus on business needs
Consider business priorities, whether annual plans are on track and if not how they need to be adjusted. Is there reducing demand or increasing requirements, do particular roles need reshaping or are they no longer affordable. These will be the reasons a tribunal reviews in deciding whether your reasons for changes were genuine or whether you’re really dismissing for another reason (e.g. poor performance) but disguising the dismissal as redundancy.
No legal requirement
Although legally there is no need to demonstrate how you have arrived at your business reasons, it’s good practice so that employees accept your reasons are genuine. Sharing facts is useful – think basic spreadsheets, year on year figures, slide shows, customer testimonials. Allow challenge, be open and honest with your responses.
If you’re reason for change is outplacement, you’ll need to take advice on whether you’re creating a TUPE transfer. However genuine your reasons, if outplacement creates a TUPE transfer you’ll need to take extra care when reshaping or making redundancies as employees subject to TUPE transfers are afforded enhanced employment law protection.
If demand in a geographical area has shifted meaning you need to move employees to different locations, check their employment contracts. If there’s a clause allowing you to move the employee (and you’re exercising it reasonably) then you can do just that on reasonable notice. If there is no such ‘mobility clause’, your reasons for the move are important and need to be shown as genuine.
The safest option before communicating your reasons to employees is to take advice. In update #4 of the series, we’ll be looking at voluntary redundancy.
This update is accurate on the date it was sent (5 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.
Despite lockdown measures easing across the country, just under 50% of the UK population still report feelings of stress and anxiety due to the impact of the pandemic. Even with businesses returning to their physical workplace, 44% of employees express concerns about returning. Uncertainty, new ways of working, and changing environments will undoubtedly put a strain on the well-being of your teams.
With a potential ‘hybrid’ mix of home-working, phased-returns back to the workplace and employees still furloughed, how do you keep a pulse of how it’s going and support employee well-being where it’s needed?
A finger on the pulse – engagement surveys; simple, but effective. They don’t have to be long or complicated but asking your team ‘how it’s going’ on a regular basis is a great way to identify if someone is struggling and gives you the opportunity to proactively support. We’ve included an engagement survey within our mental health toolkit for employers. Click here for more info.
Don’t rely on self-reporting – make sure well-being is a two-way conversation. Even if a survey is anonymised, employees still might not feel able to share how they’re doing. Empower your managers with the tools, skills and training to sensitively approach members of their team in real-time and discuss what support is required and how they can help.
Stay connected – working remotely can create barriers to effective communication. Encourage teams to stay off internal emails, avoid the phone and make the most of face to face meetings and video calls where possible.
One size won’t fit all – actively listening to concerns about a safe working environment, proactively engaging those working remotely and checking in with anyone still on furlough will help you to keep connected. Remind employees about any Employee Assistance Programme you have or signpost them to charities that can provide financial, well-being and other support.
If you have access to Intelligent Employment, don’t forget you can access our ‘Ideas for supporting human-being’ (under the ‘HR tools’ header) to help with maintaining engagement and well-being in your teams.
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 the knowledge, skills and tools necessary 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, click here.
You’ll need to know the answer when reshaping your business so that the process you follow is the right and lawful one.
It’s not always intuitive, so here are a few things for you to consider:
Even if you have the same amount of work, if you need fewer people to do that work, it is still likely to be a redundancy situation;
If you have a reduction or cessation of a particular kind of work, but the same number of employees needed, asking employees to change what they do perhaps by reducing their role or hours may amount to a redundancy;
You need to focus on the practical reality of the role and not what was written down in a job description years before (if that’s different from what’s happening on a day-to-day basis);
Changes in the way of working are unlikely to amount to a redundancy situation;
Adding to a role will be a redundancy situation if it means that the particular kind of work that the employee is doing is disappearing or reducing.
If you’re unsure as to whether you have a redundancy situation, you should always take advice. In update #3 of the series, we focus on ensuring business reasons for redundancy are chosen and communicated appropriately.
This update is accurate on the date it was sent (4 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.
Following the ‘Plan for Jobs’ announcement earlier this month, we now have further detail on how the Job Retention Bonus will work in practice.
You’ll be entitled to a one-off payment of £1,000 for every eligible employee previously claimed for under the Job Retention Scheme. 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.
Who is an eligible employee?
They must have previously been furloughed and had a claim submitted for them through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS);
They need to have been continuously employed by you from the time of your most recent CJRS claim for that specific employee, until at least 31 January 2021;
The need to earn at least £520 a month on average between 1 November 2020 and 31 January 2021 (£1560 total). They do not need to receive £520 each month, but must receive some earnings in each of the three calendar months that have been paid and reported to HMRC;
They must not be serving a contractual or statutory notice period that started before 1 February 2021;
Providing the above has been met, you can claim for:
Office holders and company directors;
Those on fixed-term contracts;
Those on statutory parental leave who returned after 10 June 2020 and have been furloughed.
What earnings will be included for the £520 monthly calculation?
Detailed guidance will be published in September 2020. We’ll update you as soon as we have the detail.
What can you do now if you intend to access the bonus?
Make sure employee records are up-to-date, including accurate reporting of details and wages on the Full Payment Submission through the Real Time Reporting system;
Make sure all CJRS claims have been accurately submitted and any necessary amendments have been notified to HMRC.
The Job Retention Bonus will be taxable, so you’ll need to include the whole amount as income when calculating taxable profits for Corporation Tax or Self-Assessment.
This update is accurate on the date it was sent (3 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.
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.
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:
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;
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.