Unpicking the Job Support Scheme

Orchard Employment Law provide answers to some frequently asked questions.

Both Employers and employees have been concerned about the future of jobs once the Furlough scheme ends on the 31st October so it is no surprise that people were eagerly awaiting the announcement of the new job support scheme. 

We bring you answers to some frequently asked questions.

What is the Job Support Scheme in a nutshell?

This scheme will allow employers to reduce staff hours and to claim some monies from the government.

All small and medium businesses will be eligible to use the scheme but large businesses will only be able to claim if they can show that their turnover has reduced as a result of the pandemic.

How many hours must an employee work to be eligible for the scheme?

Under the new scheme the employees work at least at least one third of the employees normal hours. The minimum hour requirement might increase after January 2021.

What will I have to pay as an employer?

As an employer you will be required to pay national insurance and pensions. You will also have to pay 100% of the hours which the employee works.

You will also have to contribute towards the hours which the employee does not work. Your total contribution will vary depending on the percentage of time the employee works. The total minimum contribution from an employer (including hours worked) will be 55% but it could be as much as 80%.

Just as with furlough, it is likely that the employee will be on a reduced salary on the job support scheme.

Can I use the scheme on a new employee?

Employees who been employed on of after the 23rd of September 2020 are eligible for the scheme.

What if the employee has not been furloughed in the past?

There is no requirement for the business to have used furlough in the past or for the employee to have been furloughed before.

Can I rotate staff on the scheme?

Yes, you can rotate staff  on and off the job retention scheme but they must be on the scheme for a minimum of 7 days at a time.

Is there an automatic right to put an employee on the scheme?

No, as this will be a reduction in wages you will need to check your contracts to see whether or not you have the right to reduce pay. If you do not have the right to reduce pay you should negotiate with your staff and have a written agreement for them to be on the scheme. We recommend you take advice on this so as not to end up with a claim against you.

You should also have clear and transparent reasons as to who is put on the scheme and who isn’t. You are still required to follow UK employment laws and this means not discriminating against people.

Will I still be able to make redundancies if I use the scheme?

You will still be able to make redundancies but you cannot use the scheme during the notice period. Employees should receive their full redundancy and notice pay (pre furlough and job support scheme.

Do I have to use the scheme instead of using redundancies or lay off?

No, there is no obligation for an employer to use the job support scheme.

Can we contact you for support?

Yes, we provide advice and support to employers  with all HR and Employment Law matters. You can contact us at www.orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk

Stepping into Quarter 4 of 2020

Adverse weather, Furlough, Redundancies and Annual Leave

October is almost upon us and so now is a good time to start preparing for the colder months. We have a few hints and tips for you for coping with the colder weather: –

Adverse Weather

It happens every year. Snow, ice, frost and fallen trees can cause havoc on our roads and also on public transport, so much so that you could have staff who are late to work or even unable to make it in at all because of the winter weather.

You are under no obligation to pay staff who are unable to attend work, but it is always a good idea to put things in place which allow your staff to maintain pay and also for your business to continue to function.

Think about allowing staff to arrive later at work, work from home (if they are not already) or make up their hours on another occasion.

If you do decide to pay staff who cannot attend work, ensure that they are told that it is an act of goodwill and is not intended to be contractual.

School Closures

This year has been a difficult year with the school closures that we have already had because of the pandemic.

Unfortunately, the weather can also be a factor when it comes to school closures and sometimes, even if your staff can travel to work, their children’s schools may decide to close, meaning that your staff have no childcare and, therefore, might be unable to get into work.

As above, you are under no obligation to pay staff who are unable to attend work but it might be a good idea to think about what staff could do if they have no childcare.

Many businesses will have had staff working from home due to the pandemic and know that this can be successful. So letting staff work from home when their children’s school is closed is a good idea. It may well be that your staff are still working from home anyway.

You should also think about allowing staff to arrive later at work or make up their hours on another occasion.

In past years, we have suggested allowing staff to bring their children into work to give the children some educational, interactive and inspiring experiences. However, this year due to the pandemic, we would not suggest this.

Annual Leave Reminders

Some businesses have their annual leave year starting on 1st January and ending on 31st December. If this is the case for your business, now is the perfect time to remind staff about their unused annual leave allowance.

Employees who have been furloughed during the pandemic will continue to have accrued statutory annual leave entitlements, as well as any additional entitlement provided for in their Employment Contract.

You do not usually have to allow staff to roll over their unused annual leave into the next year unless there are exceptional circumstances such as maternity leave or illness.

However, the Government passed new emergency legislation at the start of the pandemic to ensure businesses have the flexibility they need to respond to the pandemic and to protect staff, and all other workers, from losing their statutory annual leave entitlement.

This means that staff are able to carry annual leave forward if the impact of pandemic meant that it has not been reasonably practicable to take annual leave this year.

Where it has not been possible, the untaken annual leave may be carried forward into the following two leave years.

If you are not allowing your staff to carry their holiday forward into 2021 and 2022, now is the time to remind them that they still have unused leave to take.

And believe it or not, you are also able to refuse an annual leave request if it is not a convenient time for your business or if there are too many staff off.

That being said though, it is essential that staff have time off to rest, so you should be reasonable when refusing holiday requests.

Many employers are also unaware that they can impose annual leave on their staff. So if your business has a down period or if your staff have unused annual leave, you can simply give them a day off. Remember to give notice though.

Sickness

It is inevitable that staff will become sick over the winter months with colds, coughs and flu, as well as the continuing risk of contracting COVID-19.

It is important that all businesses have a clear Sickness Policy in place so that staff know who to contact, and by what times and by what means, if they need to call in sick.

Furlough

As you will all be aware, the Government’s Furlough Scheme is ending on 31st October 2020, meaning that businesses will be required to go back to paying their staff their full wages as well as employer contributions to NIC and any pension schemes.

Redundancies

Unfortunately, due to the Furlough Scheme ending, sadly some businesses may need to think about making staff redundancies.

It is important that businesses follow the consultation regulations carefully when making redundancies, including the correct time limits if more than 20 staff will be made redundant.

Remember to also keep in regular contact with your staff if redundancies are inevitable. Staff will already be feeling anxious about their futures and keeping them up-to-date with current progress and consulting with them about how to move forward it important.

Preparations for a Second Wave of COVID-19

We are all expecting there to be a second wave of COVID-19 in the future, whether that be in the next couple of months or after Christmas.

If and when it does happen, it is important to be ready in terms of how your business is going to be able to function. Make sure your systems and processes are all in order and tighten up all those that aren’t, including a Homeworking Policy and keeping in regular communication with your staff.

If you would like any other information on things to deal with in the run-up to winter, drop us an email at info@orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk