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Coronavirus FAQs and Statutory Pay Increases

How are you doing today?

Another weekend over. Is Nature / the Good Lord balancing things for us? In spite of the Coronavirus pandemic, hasn’t it been a wonderful weekend – weatherwise – for us in SW England?

I do hope this week will not present too many challenges to you and that you find support in everything you do.

Remote working 

Embrace HR blog picture

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels

 

Following government guidelines, we are all working from our homes; but are carrying on with business as usual.

A VERY BIG THANK YOU to Maria, Deana and Bridgette, who are terrific in keeping the wheels turning.

Our office telephone has been placed on voicemail but we will pick up messages. Communication, however, is best by email, especially if it is urgent. Please email us at admin@embracehr.co.uk. 

ID Cards  

We have been issuing our client’s staff with the necessary ID required for them to be identified as Key Workers.

Please contact us if you would like more information.

Furlough Leave 

In these unprecedented and difficult times, the government has introduced a new scheme to help prevent redundancies called the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). I have mentioned it in earlier blogs. But there has been a lot to take in so I don’t apologies for mentioning it again here.

The scheme is for businesses who do not have any work for their employees due to the Coronavirus situation. The scheme pays for 80% of the employees wages while they are not working. The scheme is currently running from 1 March to 31st May 2020. It is unknown at this time if the scheme will be extended. 

Legally, the employee will be placed on Furlough Leave which must be for a minimum of 3 weeks. Whilst on Furlough Leave the employee will remain employed by the company but must not work for their employer. They will accrue annual leave as usual.    

FAQs

These are some of the frequently asked questions we have received over the last few weeks:  

Can I Furlough my pregnant employee?  

If you have an employee who is pregnant and is due to go on maternity leave soon, it is possible to place them on Furlough Leave before they go. However, once they start maternity leave they will no longer be on Furlough Leave. 

Can I Furlough an employee returning from maternity leave?  

If you have an employee who is due to return from maternity leave during a period that other employees are on Furlough Leave, and you intend to designate the returner as a Furlough Worker, it is possible to place them on Furlough Leave when they were due to return to work.  

How do I decide who to Furlough?  

If you have a pool of staff who are all doing the same role, it may be difficult to decide who to Furlough and who to leave working. When making the decision, iis important to be aware of not discriminating against someone because, for example, they are disabled or pregnant. One option would be to offer the Furlough scheme on a voluntary basis. Another option would be to draw up a list of objective criteria to aid your decision.  

Changes to Statutory Benefits  

The National Minimum Wage (NMW) and National Living Wage (NLW)

From 1 April 2020 the changes are detailed below.   

National Minimum Wage 

 

2019  2020 
Employees over 25 years   £8.21  £8.72 
Employees aged 21-24 years  £7.70  £8.20 
Employees aged 18-20 years  £6.15  £6.45 
Employees aged under 18 years  £4.35  £4.55 
Apprentices  £3.90  £4.15 

Other Statutory Pay Increases 

  • Pay for Maternity, Adoption, Paternity, Shared Parental Leave increased to £151.20 on 5th April 2020.
  • Statutory  Sick Pay increased to £9.85 from today, 6th April 2020. 

Do you have any HR questions you need answered?

If so, do contact our Team at Embrace HR by using the contact form here or contact me on LinkedIn.

You can also find us at our Facebook Page EmbraceHR Support.

If you would like to receive our quarterly newsletter, please sign up here.

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited supports SMEs and care packages who do not have their own HR department or those that do but need help from time to time. We also work across the Home Counties of Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, and London.

Pictures are from Pexels.com

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Furloughed workers accrue annual leave

Good evening. Hope all is going well with you.

We have had many clients contact us to ask about short time working, lay offs and ‘furlough’. #Furlough is a word with which many of us are not familiar. We have explained it in more detail here.

Here are a few tips to help you to access the Job Retention Scheme that the government announced. Remember to take time to plan and be clear about what is best for your business or organisation. How will your actions impact your organisation and your employees?

Furloughed workers will accrue continuous service as well as annual leave.

If you would like to talk through your options please contact us. HOWEVER, there is still much work to be done in these areas for the finer details to be resolved and announced by the government. 

The information below is from cipd.co.uk

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If you would like to discuss this or any HR subject further please contact our Team at Embrace HR Limited.

If you would like to receive our quarterly newsletter, please sign up here.

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited supports SMEs and care packages who do not have their own HR department or those that do but need help from time to time. We also work across the Home Counties of Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, and London.

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Who is a Key Worker : Coronavirus Update from Embrace HR

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

Good evening. We’re sharing our updates for anyone who might visit our website. The scene is changing constantly and we urge you to listen to the broadcasts and update yourself on the gov.uk website, or other official paths such as HSE.

In this Update we will cover some of the FAQ’s that we have been receiving.

What is the difference between sick leave and self-isolation?

In the current situation sickness absence will cover employees:

  • Who test positive for the virus
  • Who show symptoms of the virus
  • Who self-isolate because they have been told to do so by the NHS.

Self-isolation means staying at home and avoiding contact with other people. Employees who self-isolate because of one of the above sickness absence reasons will qualify for SSP.  Employees who choose to self-isolate without any of the above, should follow the normal absence procedures and will be entitled to unpaid or annual leave.

Employers have a duty of care to protect all staff and in some cases it may be necessary to suspend an employee on medical grounds, for example pregnant employees, to ensure their safety. Employees who are suspended for this reason will be entitled to full pay.

Self-employed people who have to self-isolate do not qualify for SSP, however, they may be able to claim employment support allowance if they meet the conditions.

Employee’s should check their symptoms using the NHS 111 service, not their GP. https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19/

Employers should continue to carry out Return to Work Interviews with employees after a period of sickness absence to make sure they are fit to return to work and find out if there is any support the employer can provide. Please contact Embrace HR, if you would like more information about this.

Can an employee continue working if they are a carer / support worker and the individual being cared for has symptoms of Coronavirus?

Transmission should be minimised through safe working practices such as wearing personal protective equipment, cleaning and disposing of waste regularly, not shaking dirty clothes. A risk assessment should be carried out to ascertain if the employee’s family may be at risk, for example if they have children or the elderly living with them. Each case should be considered separately.

Can an employee continue working if they are a carer / support worker and the individual being cared for is part of a household that is isolating?

If the individual can remain at a safe distance from the person in the house with symptoms, then care can be provided without additional precautions. One example being are there separate bathroom facilities?

For more guidance on the government website for those working in people’s homes, please click on this  link:

Which roles are classified as Key Workers?

The government has specified who Key Workers are. There are many Key Workers, a large majority in the NHS, but also individual carers and support workers are Key Workers such as police, doctors, paramedics, teachers, social workers, case managers, transport workers,

and so many others. For more guidance on Key Workers please access the government website by clicking on this link.

What is the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme?

The Job Retention Scheme involves organisations designating employees as ‘furlough workers’, which is a way to keep employees on payroll without them working, and without them being laid off or made redundant. The government will pay up to 80% of furloughed employee’s wages to a max of £2500 per employee per month.

Furloughed workers

If your employer cannot cover staff costs due to COVID-19, they may be able to access support to continue paying part of your wage, to avoid redundancies.

If your employer intends to access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, they will discuss with you becoming classified as a furloughed worker. This would mean that you are kept on your employer’s payroll, rather than being laid off.

To qualify for this scheme, you should not undertake work for them while you are furloughed. This will allow your employer to claim a grant of up to 80% of your wage for all employment costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.

You will remain employed while furloughed. Your employer could choose to fund the differences between this payment and your salary, but does not have to.

If your salary is reduced as a result of these changes, you may be eligible for support through the welfare system, including Universal Credit.

We intend for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to run for at least 3 months from 1 March 2020, but will extend if necessary.”  Excerpt from gov.uk

The scheme is available to all organisations with no restriction on size or type. However, it is only intended to cover organisations who cannot cover staff costs due to COVID 19. It is not known what an organisation will need to show in order to qualify. Employers will need to submit their information to the government via an online portal. More information will follow regarding this.

Organisations will be able to claim for any employee on the PAYE system.

It is likely that contracts which contain the right to lay-off employees on unpaid leave can also be used to designate furlough workers. If contracts do not contain a right to unpaid lay-off, organisations can ask the employee to agree to become a furlough worker.

The finer details of this scheme are not yet known and we shall update further when we know more.

What do I need to consider if my employees are working from home?

The CIPD (2020) have identified the following top ten tips for employers regarding homeworking:

  1. Review your homeworking policy. Make sure it addresses how employees will be supervised, how the organisation and line managers will communicate with them and how performance and output will be monitored.
  2. Confirm employee rights.Homeworkers must be treated the same as office-based staff, with equal access to development and promotion opportunities.
  3. Confirm contact methods and regularity. Advise homeworkers to establish when and how they will have contact with their manager; reporting in at regular times can also help combat isolation and stress.
  4. Providing equipment.There is no obligation for employers to provide computer or other equipment necessary for working at home, although, given the latest Government advice, employers should do what they can to enable home working.
  5. IT and Broadband.Employers should confirm in the contractual arrangements if the employee is expected to cover the broadband cost (plus heating and lighting) or if the employer will contribute towards these costs and, if so, to what extent.
  6. Think about health and safety obligations. Employers are responsible for an employee’s health, safety and welfare, even when working from home.
  7. Carry out risk assessment.Employers should usually conduct risk assessments of all the work activities carried out by employees those working from home.
  8. Review working time and length of period.Will employees need to be available for work during strict office hours or work a specified a set number of hours per day?
  9. Clarify salary, benefits, insurance, tax.Salary and benefits should obviously remain the same during a period of homeworking, although changes to expenses may be appropriate if normal travel expenses and allowances are no longer needed.
  10. Data protection.Employers should make sure data protection obligations are maintained and employees using their own computer should still process information in compliance with data protection principles.

How can we help? Contact us by clicking on this link

For more information and guidance on any of the issues mentioned, please contact Embrace HR through our contact form here.

KEEP WELL EVERYONE. KEEP SAFE.

Embrace HR Team

23 March 2020


If you would like to discuss this or any HR subject further  please contact our Team at Embrace HR Limited.

If you would like to receive our quarterly newsletter, please sign up here.

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited supports SMEs and care packages who do not have their own HR department or those that do but need help from time to time. We also work across the Home Counties of Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, and London.

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HR Help in Unprecedented Times

BUSINESS OWNERS AND MANAGERS

How can we help?

Stop Press: We’ve listened to the Prime Minister and Chancellor’s speech this afternoon on the Coronavirus UK latest. Significant measures are being put in place for businesses to provide economic support so that many employers may consider keeping on employees. We will update ourselves on the offers but we understand that HMRC will be the place to go. We will keep you up to date as far as we are able.

The Press are asking questions and the PM, Chancellor and others are responding.

Tonight businesses such as cafes, restaurants, gyms, will have to close. Take-aways will still operate. Many of the staff working in these businesses are on zero hours contracts. This means that they do not have contractual hours or pay. The Chancellor says that they are part of the plan to cover their pay through grants to cover up to 80% of pay up to £2,500 per month.

If you missed it, here is the PM and Chancellor’s live conference with summary.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/world-51969508

STAY SAFE. KEEP WELL.

There is so much information out there that it’s difficult to know what to do for the best.

We’re offering a FREE 30 minute consultation to discuss with us your people concerns

  • Lay off and short-term working
  • Working from home
  • Looking after family
  • Keeping well

Here is some brief information to consider. Always talk to your employees as they may suggest something different.

What you need to do if you place employees on short time working

  • Check the contract – is there an allowance for short time working
  • Agree with your member of staff that they will accept shorter working hours, the options may be a that there is a lay off or redundancy situation
  • Agree the reduction in pay
  • Ensure you have agreement in writing
  • This is where you can check further information on gov.uk or the CIPD fact sheet
  • If you need further help contact us

What you need to do if you lay off your employees

  • Check the contract – is there an allowance for lay off
  • Consult and agree with your staff that you will lay them off
  • Agree the period of lay off with a caveat that it may be increased
  • Ensure you confirm in writing
  • This is where you can check further information on gov.uk or the CIPD fact sheet
  • Your employees may be eligible for statutory guaranteed pay
  • Your employees may claim redundancy if unpaid for 4 continuous weeks
  • If you need further help contact us

What you need to do if you believe there may be a redundancy situation

  • Consult with your employees, they may discuss other options such as short-time working or layoffs
  • Follow the redundancy process consider whether you will pay in lieu of notice or whether your employees will work their notice
  • Calculate redundancy payments, pay in lieu of notice (PILON), holidays that have not been taken that you will need to pay in lieu
  • If the decision is still to make redundancies ensure that you follow procedural guidelines, information on gov.uk or on the ACAS website
  • Ensure written confirmation of end of contract due to redundancy
  • If you need further help contact us

We are all in this together. If we can help, we will. Embrace HR are working throughout this time.

You may find this information on the BBF (Buckinghamshire Business First) very helpful.

Take care. Keep well.


 Embrace HR Limited is an HR Department based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, working with SME’s and other small employers in the Home Counties and London. 

Our clients have teams up to 35 employees and we provide whatever HR support is needed, from recruitment to transactional HR, TUPE, redundancy, and other employee relations processes, contracts and handbooks, policies and much more.

Contact us if you would like more information.