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Can you make Covid-19 vaccines mandatory for your staff?

Can you insist that your care industry employees are vaccinated? What will happen if they refuse? Read on…

As the first Covid-19 vaccines begin to roll out, we can start to see a ray of light at the end of the global pandemic tunnel. And for those of us in the care industry, with the responsibility for the safety of both staff and clients, it is a big relief.

However, just because the vaccine is being made available – and health and social care workers and care home workers are among those included in the first wave – that doesn’t mean that all of your employees will take up the offer.

Best practice

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA) says that employers must take reasonable steps to reduce workplace risks. With this in mind, it would be wise to  educate your staff about vaccination so that health and safety is front of mind and they make an informed choice regarding vaccinations.

In light of this, it is key that employers draw up a policy regarding keeping safe, with reference to vaccinations in general, if one is not already in place.

Vaccine concerns

Staff may have their own reasons for not wanting to be vaccinated – in fact according to a YouGov survey around a fifth of those surveyed said they would not be vaccinated. They may fear that it has been developed too quickly, and that there is not enough known about side effects. They may doubt its efficacy – and with the announcement that the gap between first and second doses is being extended, may be even less convinced that it will give them immunity.

They may have medical concerns. Anyone who is pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to conceive is advised to consult with medical professionals to weigh up the risks of being vaccinated [GOV.UK: The safety of COVID-19 vaccines when given in pregnancy 5/1/21], and there are also concerns for anyone who has suffered from severe allergic reactions in the past [GOV.UK Confirmation of guidance to vaccination centres on managing allergic reactions following COVID-19 vaccination with the Pfizer-BioNTech-vaccine. Withdrawn 11/1/21].

Or you may find that you have staff who refuse on religious grounds, or because of other beliefs – ethical vegans, for instance, may refuse to have a vaccine that has been tested on animals.

Legal viewpoint

You should also note that the vaccination is not mandatory, and it looks unlikely that there will be any law making it so.

As highlighted in People Management recently, [People Management: Can employers force staff to have the Covid vaccine? 15/12/20] there are indirect measures that an employer can take to pressurise vaccination of their employees such as “refusing staff entry to certain parts of the workplace or certain roles, if they cannot demonstrate that they have been vaccinated”. That said, we wouldn’t recommend it and any such measures would need to be considered very carefully as you might run the risk of being subject to claims of discrimination or constructive dismissal.

Of course, where the care of vulnerable clients is involved, as an employer you may feel that your responsibility for their health and safety means that their carers should be vaccinated. However, there are other requirements that can keep them safe – such as PPE, cleaning and hygiene regimes, regular testing and social hygiene. In any case, guidance from the NHS still states that all these measures should be taken even if one is vaccinated, as no vaccine is believed to be 100 per cent effective.

An option for staff who have not been vaccinated, for whatever reason, is to allow them to work at home, if that is indeed an option, or to be deployed elsewhere, away from ill or vulnerable people. When considering this, you will of course have to ensure that they agree, they are not financially disadvantaged, that it doesn’t impact on their career in a negative way, or that it is in breach of their contract.

If you would like to discuss this subject further, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR Limited.

T: 01296 761288 or contact us here.

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

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited provide a specialised HR service to the care sector, from recruitment through to exit.

Embrace HR changes in 2021
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Looking ahead to 2021

There has been a lot to take in over the past 10 months, with furlough schemes and lockdown laws, but before you raise a glass to the new year, take a moment to make a note of these changes…

It has been a tough year for many of us in the business world, and it is no surprise that the UK economy has shrunk by 11.3 per cent, and that it is forecast to take until 2022 to get back to the level it was at before Covid-19.

However, we will all move forward, and as we do so, we should make a note of some of the upcoming changes that will affect anyone involved in the management of HR.

National Living Wage

The first is that the National Living Wage (NLW – previously the national minimum wage) is set to go up in April. For staff aged 16 and 17 it will become £4.62 an hour and for those aged 23-plus it will be £8.91. See the table for full details:

Age Current rate 2021 rate Percentage increase
20-21 £8.20 £8.36 2%
18-20 £6.45 £6.56 1.7%
16-17 £4.55 £4.62 1.5%
Apprentice £4.15 £4.30 3.6%

End of Furlough Scheme

STOP PRESS 17/12/20: Chancellor Rishi Sunak has extended the furlough scheme for one month until the end of April 2021.

The furlough scheme is set to end in March, so as you come back after the new year, plans around reintegrating staff, reviewing job descriptions and so on will need to be confirmed.

The CIPD is calling for the government to extend the scheme once more beyond the end date of 31 March 2021 [CIPD: CIPD calls on Chancellor to extend furlough scheme to the end of June to protect jobs 13/12/2020]. The independent professional body has asked that support should be gradually phased out, allowing companies some stability while the vaccination scheme is rolled out. It has said that the government should keep its contributions at 80 per cent for February and March, dropping them gradually through April, May and June.

As and when we hear more on this, we will update you.

Flexible Recruitment

If this year has shown anything, it is that many jobs can be done remotely, offering staff a better work life balance by dropping commuting time and offering the chance to work around family and caring commitments. Many companies have realised that they can also tap into a wider selection of candidates by taking their pick from potential employees located outside of commuting distance.

Now is a good time to ensure that you have policies in place for recruiting for remote-based jobs, if that is what you will do going forward, and reviewing your remote working policies around working hours, IT and security – if you didn’t do so during the first lockdown.

You might also like to review our previous blog on the subject of flexible working.

If you would like to discuss this subject further, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR Limited.

T: 01296 761288 or contact us here.

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

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited supports business owners 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 also SMEs based in London.

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New Immigration Rules for 2021

As we head towards the end of 2020 and the UK finally leaves the EU, this will also mean the end of free movement to the UK. The UK Government is introducing a new points-based immigration system which will treat EU and non-EU citizens equally. This change comes into effect on the 1st January 2021.

Immigration Guidelines

The main work route into the UK will be via the Skilled Worker route [GOV.UK: The UK’s points-based immigration system: an introduction for employers 19/11/2020] which includes some of the below:

  • Intra-Company Transfers (including Graduates Trainees)
  • International Students & Graduates (including Graduate Immigration Route)
  • Health and Care Visa (to apply for the Health and Care Visa, the individual must be a qualified doctor, nurse, health professional or adult social care professional. They need to have a job offer from the NHS (or equivalent body) and the employer must be a licensed sponsor.)

From 1st January 2021 the Skilled Worker route replaces the current T2 General Visa and some of the rules have been relaxed:

  • Required skill level is now A-level equivalent.
  • Reduced salary threshold.
  • Resident Labour Market test is scrapped.

Under the new points-based immigration system, anyone coming to the UK for work must meet a specific set of requirements for which they will score points. A total of 70 points are required, made up of mandatory points and some points which are tradeable. All applicants must:

  • be applying for a job ‘at appropriate skill level’,
  • speak English,
  • and have a job offer from an approved sponsor.

In addition, they must have a salary offer which is competitive for the job they are applying for.

A sponsorship requirement will apply to the Skilled Worker route, to the Health and Care Visa and to the student route, as well as to some specialised worker routes. This applies to both EU and non-EU citizens who come on these routes. Although specific requirements vary by route, for most work routes, sponsors must undergo checks to demonstrate they are a genuine business, are solvent, and that the roles they wish to recruit into are credible and meet the salary and skills requirements (if applicable). Sponsors must also pay a licence fee (and Immigration Skills Charge, where required.)

Right to Work (RTW)

Employers may continue with current RTW checks for EU citizens up to 30 June 2021, eg, a passport can still be accepted as the only RTW document up to this date. After this date, it will be necessary for the employee to show their settled status documentation/visa.

Irish citizens will continue to prove their right to work in the UK as they do currently.

All passports must be valid for at least 6 months.

Driving Post EU Exit

Employees who are required to drive for work may have to apply for an International Driving Permit (IDP).

Existing EU Citizens

EU citizens currently working the UK must apply to the EU Settlement Scheme if they wish to continue working in the UK. The deadline is 30 June 2021. If, after the 30 June 2021 they have not applied for a visa then their continued employment will be unlawful.

The employee must take personal responsibility if the wish to continue working in the UK and, if they do not have settled status (or a visa) by the 30 June 2021 deadline, then their employment will be unlawful, and the employer will be fined if they continue working.

Required Actions for Employers & Case Managers

There are a number of actions required of the employer and/or case manager:

  • Review your existing workforce to identify who will be required to apply to the EU settlement scheme and if they wish to continue working in the UK.
  • The Employer cannot force an employee to apply.
  • It is reasonable for the Employer to have dialogue with the employee to enquire what their intentions are and to request that they keep the Employer informed of progress of their application under the settled status scheme (or their visa application).
  • The Employer will be required to take a copy of the employee’s new settled status documentation or visa and send a copy to the HR provider.

Immigration and EU Settlement HR Support

At Embrace HR we can assist with this process by providing the employer with a list of employees who, as per our records are currently EU citizens, in order that they may fulfil their obligations as set out above. We will record the information provided to us from the employer/employee.

Furthermore, if we do not receive the required evidence from the employer or the employee by 30 June 2021, we will contact the employer to inform them that the employee, according to our records, may be working unlawfully, and that employment may need to be terminated.

Employers and employees are welcome to contact Embrace HR Limited with any questions relating these new immigration rules.

T: 01296 761288 or contact us here.

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

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited supports business owners 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 also SMEs based in London.

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Returning to Work during COVID-19 – Things to Consider

As the government encourages construction and manufacturing businesses to get staff back to work unless they can work at home, we take a look at what SMEs need to consider to ensure their staff are kept safe…

The current message from the government is now for businesses to start getting back to work if they possibly can. And with a clearer idea of how long the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough) is to go on for, and a plan for getting people gradually back to work in place, now’s the time to look at how to manage staff back.

For now, anyone who can work from home should do so, but the government is suggesting that other employees get back to work by June where appropriate. The CIPD has said that employers should meet the requirement of a three-point checklist before bringing staff back to work. These are as follows:

  • Firstly, that it is essential for employees to be present in the workplace
  • Secondly, that it is safe for them to be there
  • And thirdly, that both employers and workers agree that they should come back into the workplace.

The workspace

The key questions to pose before your office staff return to work are:

  • Can they still work from home?
  • When they do come back to work how will that be achieved to maintain social distancing and minimise the risk and spread of infection?

You must consider how staff can safely distance from each other, not just when sat at a desk, but when walking around the office, using the toilet and drinks areas. You need to work out safe walking routes around the workspace and, if space is tight, consider splitting shifts or alternating days so that you don’t have all of the staff in at all times. Screens should only be used if you have no more space to distance employees, and meetings should be avoided. If they must take place, keep everyone distanced or take it outside if possible. Hot desking is also to be avoided. If someone has to use another desk, computers and phone, or other equipment, these should be thoroughly cleaned between users.

Changing the way you work

Perhaps this whole situation has made you realise that your staff can work from home. Maybe you don’t need an office or can utilise a smaller space. Now is a good time to consider how your business might look in the future. Start looking at the implications of people working full time from home – what do you need to do to make this happen – for instance:

  • Do you need a more robust IT provision in place?
  • What extra insurance cover will you need?
  • Have you been using Microsoft Teams or other collaborative software? Can this work in the future? If not, consider what sort of software and systems you need to make the shift in order to work more effectively and efficiently.

Getting to work

The message is that the youngest school children and those in Year 6 (age 10-11) will go back to school first. For some of your staff this will mean that they have children who cannot be left at home alone. Remember that even if your staff have slightly older children, they may have needs that mean they cannot be left at home all day either. Also, staff who need to use public transport may be unwilling to do so. In both cases, you need to have an open discussion with them about what the alternatives are:

  • Can they continue to work from home?
  • Can they work different hours to avoid going on busy transport systems, or work around a partner’s work hours to enable childcare?

Keeping safe

Government guidance says that all employers should be carrying out risk assessments on returning to work, consulting both with their workers and trade unions where applicable. If you employ more than 50 people you will be expected to publish the risk assessment on your company website.

To keep any contact to a minimum, staggered shifts and keeping staff in the same teams are good ways to minimise the number of people with whom they come into contact.

On construction sites, staggered arrival times and multiple entrances are suggested, along with screens to separate workers. Where social distancing is not possible, workers should work back to back or side by side. Swapping of tools should be avoided to lessen the risk of contamination.

In addition, in factories, plants and warehouses, employers should look at how people can work away from each other, in order to maintain the required social distancing, and to stagger the times and locations of breaks.

Working in other people’s homes

If your staff work in people’s homes, such as carers and support workers, or even nurses, they should discuss how social distancing will be achieved. However, working with people means often being close to them. They may require personal care which means that social distancing is not possible. There are other areas to consider. Recommendations can be to leave all internal doors open to minimise touching door handles; restricting the number of people working in normal busy areas such as kitchens and bathrooms; and the mantra of ‘wash hands on arrival and regularly throughout’ cannot be repeated enough. And, of course, it should go without saying that everyone – whether in the home or workplace – should try and minimise the spread of infection.

Restaurants

Keep kitchen access limited to essential staff to minimise any contact. If the kitchen is large enough, install screens to separate workers and only allow one person to enter walk-in freezers and pantries at one time.

Shops

Shops should limit customers in the premises to maintain social distance, use contactless payment where possible and reduce customer service to enable the safety for staff.

Vehicles

If your staff use the company’s vehicles, they should be provided with hand sanitiser and cleaning products. Keep staff in teams so that contact is minimised and supply screens to keep them separate if possible. Contact for deliveries should be kept to a minimum, using online payment and pre-arranging for goods to be dropped off in a safe and secure area.

 

You can read the full government guidance on working safely here.

If you would like to discuss this subject further and find out how we could help you with work from home contracts, risk assessments, staff safety, the furlough scheme and other COVID-19 related issues, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR Limited.

T: 07767 308717 or contact us here.

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

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited supports business owners 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 also SMEs based in London.

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Being Flexible About Furlough

With so many companies furloughing their staff so quickly, there is now some essential work that needs doing – some flexibility would help companies, especially SMEs, to keep afloat…

With two-thirds of British companies using the furlough scheme during the COVID-19 crisis, it is no surprise that important tasks that should have been done before everyone left the office have been missed. It all happened so quickly that, especially for SMEs, who do not have a lot of manpower, many important back-ups were not put into place.

The problem is that once an employee has been furloughed, they are not supposed to do ANY work whatsoever. However, in real life, business cannot just come to a full stop like that, and there is work still to be done. For example, out-of-office replies need to be set up on emails, calls and emails need to be redirected, websites and social media need updating, and clients need to be contacted. Loyal and conscientious staff may want to ‘volunteer’ to undertake these roles so that things don’t fall through the cracks, and in the hope that there will be a business for them to go back to when this is all over. However, under the current rules, this is not possible.

The CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel Development) is calling for increased flexibility within the scheme, so furloughed employees can work reduced hours for their existing employer where possible.

Flexible furlough

It is in these situations where we at Embrace HR would support a scheme that allowed for a more flexible furlough scheme – one where employees were 50 per cent furloughed and 50 per cent employed, for example. We appreciate that there would be some additional administration required for this to work, but as the situation continues we believe it would be more realistic and give smaller businesses more opportunity to help keep their companies afloat until we can all get back to work. It would also help employees to keep abreast of the business and client requirements and would enable them to ease back into the workplace. Many people have had to adjust to working remotely, and those with children have had the added responsibility of having to find time to school them. This has caused changes to working in a ‘traditional’ office, and daily commuting.

“Flexible Furlough will, in my opinion, go some way to supporting both businesses as well as employees”, said Embrace HR Director Cecily Lalloo.

Holiday allowance

Something that has been updated within the scheme is the Government’s guidance about annual leave during the furlough period. The new guidance will make it easier for employers to plan ahead. It states says that employees will still accrue their holiday allowance while on furlough. The government has relaxed the regulations and now permit 4.6 weeks’ holiday to be carried over to the next two years.

Something else that has been made clear is that staff can take holiday during the furlough period. This would mean that they would be paid 100 per cent of their usual renumeration salary. The employer can still claim 80 per cent of the holiday pay from the Government but would have to top up the other 20 per cent.

We have been lucky that the weather in the UK has been glorious since lockdown began, and many people may feel like they are on holiday anyway. But the real concern is that once people go back to work, they may still want to take their holiday time. Many staff will not have claimed any holiday during the first part of the year. If a small company has five employees, with the statutory paid holiday entitlement of 5.6 weeks (in normal circumstances), they will be expecting to take a total of 140 days’ holiday between the end of lockdown and the end of the year. This is quite a lot of time out of a small business.

For smaller companies, especially those struggling to recover, this may be difficult to manage and is going to be unsustainable, particularly if they have to pay for temporary or freelance cover when staff take holidays. It is a good idea for business owners and managers to consider how they will manage holidays, and to talk to their people.

Rolling over holiday allowance

At the end of March, the Government announced that staff who did not take all of their annual leave – because it was not practical for them to do so – because of the virus, would be allowed to carry it over into the next two years. This applies to most businesses with a few exceptions.

You may like to read our previous article on furloughing staff – good news as furlough deadline is extended.

To apply for the furlough scheme for your company, visit the gov.uk website.

If you would like to discuss this subject further and find out how we could help you navigate the furlough scheme and other COVID-19 related issues, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR Limited.

T: 07767 308717 or contact us here.

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited supports business owners 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 also SMEs based in London.

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Good News as Furlough Deadline Extended

Your newest employees may now be eligible for furlough, after the deadline was extended to 19 March 2020…

If you have new employees who were not initially eligible under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), now’s the time to take another look, as the rules have just been revised. The eligibility date for furlough has now been extended to 19 March 2020, which means tens of thousands of people who thought they had missed out will now be eligible.

The furlough scheme is designed to help companies struggling to survive the COVID-19 pandemic. If you furlough staff, they remain employed by you but mustn’t actually work. The government will repay employers 80% of an employee’s salary (up to £2,500 a month) and it is up to the employer if they top up the pay to 100%.

However, it is not enough for a member of staff to have been employed by your company by that date. In order for your employee to be eligible you must have made a payroll notification to HMRC on or before 19 March.

If any staff were employed on 28 February, but were made redundant before 19 March, they can also qualify for the scheme if you choose to re-employ them and then put them on furlough. It is expected that a quarter of UK workers – that’s more than 9 million people – will be furloughed during the COVID-19 crisis.

According to a  survey published by the British Chamber of Commerce, (BCC Coronavirus Business Impact Tracker dated 15 April 2020) two-thirds of British companies have used the scheme, and a third of companies have 75% of their staff on furlough.

Do’s and don’ts of furloughing

Here is a quick reminder of the things to consider if you are furloughing staff:

  • You must instruct your employee in writing that they are to cease all work in order to be eligible under the scheme.
  • We asked Embrace HR’s employment law solicitor IBB about the rules for rotating furloughed employees. They told us that it is allowed ‘provided that the employees are furloughed for a minimum of three weeks at a time’.
  • Anyone working in a full time, PAYE job – even if on a zero hours contract – is eligible.
  • The grants to businesses are due to be paid out some time in April and will be backdated to 1 March.
  • If staff are self-isolating, they must receive Statutory Sick Pay. They can then be furloughed when they return to work. However, those who are shielding due to health conditions can be furloughed.
  • If you have staff who earn variable pay due to zero hours or flexible working contracts, the 80% will be calculated one of three ways: using figures from the same month in 2019, average monthly earnings for the 2019/2020 tax year, or an average of monthly salary since they started work. The highest figure will be used.

You might like to read our other blogs on the matter of Coronavirus:

Please contact us for more advice on the furlough scheme. To help businesses during the pandemic, we are pleased to be able to provide, free of charge, a template document for notifying your staff about the furlough scheme.

If you would like to request a copy of the free template or to discuss this subject further and find out how we could help you comply with new laws, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR Limited.

T: 07767 308717 or contact us here.

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited supports business owners 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 also SMEs based in London.

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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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Embrace HR Update March 2020

As April draws closer, we are preparing for several changes that will come into effect during the 1st week of the month…

Employment Law Actions

Statement of Terms and Conditions of Employment

There are several changes taking place to the Statement of Terms and Conditions of Employment which is given to new employees or workers to form their contract with their employer. In addition to the existing criteria the statement will also need to contain information on the following:

  • Details regarding the days of the weeks the person will be working and whether or not these will be variable
  • Details of any paid leave in addition to annual leave and sick leave
  • Details of any other benefits not included elsewhere in the statement
  • Details of any probationary period and the conditions associated with it
  • Details of any training entitlement which will be provided by the employer
  • Details of any part of that entitlement which will be compulsory
  • Particulars of any other compulsory training which the employer will not pay for

In addition, employees will have the right to receive their Statement of Terms and Conditions on the first day of employment; previously this entitlement was within two months of their start date.

Lastly casual workers (also known by some as bank workers) will now be entitled to receive a Statement of Terms of Conditions.

Calculating Holiday Pay

At the moment the average holiday pay for atypical contracts (variable hours and variable pay), is based on a 12-week reference period which includes overtime and variable hours. This is going to be extended to a 52-week reference period which means the average holiday pay for a employees and workers will be based on the number of hours worked over a rolling year.

Break in Continuous Service

The amount of continuous employment an employee has accrued is important for working out their employee rights, for example the right to claim unfair dismissal after two years’ service. Previously if an employee left their employer and didn’t return until after one week, they would be deemed to have had a break in their continuous service. However, the qualifying period for a break in service is going to be extended from 1 week to 4 weeks. This means that if employees do not have a break of 4 weeks, their continuous service will count from the start of their previous contract. This will make it easier for temporary workers to have continuous employment and mean that they are more likely to qualify for various employee rights. This will particularly impact staff moving from bank (casual) to permanent positions or vice versa.

Parental Bereavement Leave

Parents and primary carers will be entitled to two weeks’ leave following the death of their child under the age of 18; or a still birth after 24 weeks of pregnancy. Employees with 26 weeks’ service or more will be entitled to two weeks statutory pay and other staff will be entitled to unpaid leave.

VE Day 2020

The early May bank holiday has been moved from Monday 4th May 2020 to Friday 8th May 2020 to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of VE Day.

Statutory Pay Rates

The National Minimum Wage (NMW) and National Living Wage (NLW) will increase from 1st April 2020:

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:

  • Maternity, Adoption, Paternity, Shared Parental Leave pay is increasing to £151.20 on 5th April 2020.
  • Statutory Sick Pay is increasing to £95.85 on 6th April 2020.

Brexit

Embrace HR can offer specific advice to businesses in relation to how their employees will be affected by Brexit. Please contact us for more information.

Current Coronavirus news

Embrace HR can offer specific advice to businesses in relation to managing employees affected by Coronavirus. Please contact us for more information.

This link takes you to the ACAS website that sets out general advice to employers: https://www.acas.org.uk/coronavirus

Our Services

Embrace HR offers a range of services to help you manage and support the people working with you. We will not only ensure that you are legally compliant but also ensure that you have the best processes in place for the motivation and performance of the people working for you. Some of the services we provide are: recruitment, onboarding, disciplinary and grievance, family leave, performance management, engagement, management development. We work with BreatheHR to provide Cloud based HR Software.

If you would like to discuss these matters further and how it could help your business, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR Limited.

T: 01296 761 288 or contact us here.

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

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited supports business owners 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 also SMEs based in London.

Embrace HR regulation changes April 2020
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New Year, New Changes for HR

Get ahead of the game and ensure you are aware of legislation changes coming in April 2020…

When it comes to keeping up with changes in HR law, we always look to April for new requirements – usually it’s things such as adjustments to the Living Wage and Minimum Wages, but in April 2020, keep an eye out for some slightly different amendments. Get on top of them once you are back at work after the Christmas break and you’ll be ahead of the game this spring!

Recording employees’ hours

First is a ruling by The European Court of Justice. This states that all employers must have established a system to record every hour that their employees are working.

The good news is that there is no ambiguity on this – whenever Brexit goes ahead, this ruling will still apply to UK organisations.

SMEs will be held accountable, just as much as larger organisations, so if you don’t have a suitable system in place, now is the time to look at it. You may need to implement some form of HR computing system to help – it can also enable you to keep up with holiday requests, performance reviews, communication and other HR requirements. Do contact us to find out more about our HR cloud software.

It’s something you don’t want to ignore – if your organisation doesn’t keep track of working hours and staff breaks, they could find themselves with a hefty fine or even facing a criminal conviction.

The new legislation was prompted by a case brought against Deutsche Bank by Spanish trade unions. The bank only recorded overtime hours, while the unions argued that the bank had a duty to record all hours worked.

The case went to the European Court of Justice, which supported the trade union’s claims. The legislation was passed while the UK was still a part of the EU, so the ruling will apply to UK companies.

Section 1 Statement

The other big change will apply to you if you are taking on new staff. It maintains that workers must have a written statement of main terms and conditions from the first day of their employment. What is required is a section 1 statement [legislation.gov.uk: Employment Rights Act 1996] (but with additional information), and this applies to both employees and workers.

The good news for those working in HR is that it still offers the chance to provide some information in instalments the following two months.

What has changed is that the law used to allow employers up to two months to provide all of this information, and that the law only applied to employees not workers.

However now, the section 1 statement will also need to include the following:

  • The working pattern and whether hours or days may be variable
  • What the employee is entitled to in terms of paid leave (to include maternity and paternity leave)
  • Details about the probationary period and its length
  • Whether there is any mandatory training offered by the employer

While this new law applies to new workers, do bear in mind that existing employees are also entitled to make a request for a section 1 statement that includes the new information. You must provide this within one month.

The new requirements stem from the government’s 2018 Good Work Plan, with the aim of increasing transparency between workers and employers and helping to enforce employment rights.

Should a company fail to comply, this could result in an employment tribunal claim from any staff affected.

What now?

Make sure that you conduct a review of your existing section 1 statement and ensure that by 6 April 2020 it includes the extra information listed above.

Also bear in mind that this could be the first in a long line of requirements requiring employers to make available information to workers, so that may be worth investigating sooner rather than later.

You might also like to read our blog entitled: The benefits of HR software.

If you would like to discuss this subject further and how it could help your business, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR Limited.

T: 01296 761 288 or contact us here.

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

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited supports business owners 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 also SMEs based in London.