Furlough Explained

Many businesses across the UK have been experiencing a downturn in revenue as a result of the worldwide covid19 outbreak and had to make some difficult decisions about staffing levels.

On Friday 20th March 2020 the government announced that they would support businesses and staff by introducing a Coronavirus Retention Scheme. The scheme means that the government will pay up to 80% of an employees salary up to the value of £2,500 if they have been furloughed during the pandemic.

The big question is what is Furlough and how do you do it?

The general rule is that employers have an obligation to provide work for employees (not zero-hours workers) as stated in the employment contract. This means that you are still required to pay your staff for their contractual hours if you send an employee home due to a shortage of work.

However, you will not have to pay employees to stay at home if you have the right to lay-off (also known as furlough) their staff. 

Lay off or furlough is not redundnacy or dismissal and they continue to accrue annual leave and other employment rights during this period. Lay off us usually or reduced pay with a minimum payment of £29 per day for 5 days within a 30 day period. In this instance, the staff will be paid a reduced salary.

Do I have the right to furlough staff?

Employers can furlough staff if they have a contractual right to do so. This is often termed as a lay-off clause in the contract.

If you have a lay-clause you must still follow some rules including:

  • Explain to staff what lay-off means
  • Tell staff of their rights during lay-off
  • Tell staff how long you expect the lay-off to last
  • Tell staff how much pay they will receive.

What if I don’t have a  lay-off clause in the contract?

The Coronavirus Retention Scheme is still subject to current UK Employment Law. This means that if you do not have a lay-off clause contract you will need to negotiate with staff to add an additional lay-off term.

At the moment, many staff are agreeing to the term but you cannot force them to do so.

It is important to note that any amendment to the terms of employment should be done in writing.

Choosing who to furlough

If all staff are not subject to lay-off it is important that you have a clear and transparent selection criteria for who will be laid-off.

Employers should be careful not to discriminate on the against staff on the grounds of 

  • Race
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Marital Status
  • Pregnancy or Maternity
  • Religion or belief
  • Disability

We hope that you have found this information useful, Contact us at info@orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk  if you would like advice or help with documentation for furlough or any other HR matter. 

Questions & Answers on Managing Staff Who Isolate Due To Coronavirus

We are all aware of COVID-19, the Coronavirus which is spreading throughout the world. We are, also, all aware of the preventative measures which we all need to be thinking about and doing in order to help stop this disease from spreading further.

Therefore, we did not want to give you another generic blog post preaching about and reminding you of all the things that you’ve already heard and read.

Instead, we thought it would be much more useful for you all to have some practical steps about what to do in your business in relation to COVID-19.

Question

What should I do if a member of my staff cannot attend work because their child’s school is closed and they do not have childcare?

Answer

Just because your business is staying open and your staff are well and have not been told to self-isolate, their children’s schools or childminders may decide to close, perhaps for a deep-clean, which means that some of your staff have no childcare and, therefore, might be unable to work.

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.

Perhaps think about allowing staff to arrive later at work, work from home or make up their hours on another occasion, and perhaps even allow them to bring their children into work. Of course, you need to ensure that the child in question is well and also not showing any signs of illness. They also need to be aged over 8 years old for insurance purposes. Allowing children into the workplace is a great way to give some educational, interactive and inspiring experiences to school-aged children, and also takes the pressure off their parents a bit as well.

Get the children involved in simple tasks and keep their minds occupied. But make sure that your insurance covers you when children are in the workplace.

Parent’s are also entitled to take parental leave which is unpaid leave to look after children.

Question

What should I do if a member of my staff has not been informed to do so by NHS 111 or their GP but still chooses to self-isolate?

Answer

If a member of staff is showing no signs of illness and has not been advised to self-isolate by a medic, but they still CHOOSE to self-isolate, you are under no obligation to pay that staff member.

However, it is good practice to allow the member of staff to take annual leave or unpaid leave or have alternative working arrangements.

Question

If I choose to close my business down for a period of time, do I still have to pay my staff?

Answer

You are under a legal obligation to provide work for permanent staff (unless you have a lay-off clause in your contract).

If you feel it necessary to close your business premises then, if possible, you could ask your staff to work from home or another location in order for you to not have to close down completely.

If you do not have a lay-off clause and you are unable to offer home-working or provide any work then you will still be required to pay your staff their normal wage or salary.

You can also force your staff to take annual leave. However, we strongly recommend against this unless it is absolutely necessary and you must give them 2 days notice for every day you want them to take off. Of course, you could ask your staff if they would prefer to take annual leave but we would recommend that they be the one to make that decision.

Question

What is the current legislation in relation to Statutory Sick Pay and Coronavuris?

Answer

Last week, the Prime Minister announced that the Government will be initiating emergency legislation in relation to Sick Pay.

It is proposed that the new Law will allow staff who self isolate to reduce the spread of Coronavirus to receive Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) from day 1 of isolation.

Although this is emergency legislation, it could still take up to 3 months to come into effect.

Currently, staff who are unwell and earn on average at least £118 per week are only entitled to Statutory Sick Pay from day 4 of illness.

Employers are encouraged to pay Statutory Sick Pay to staff who self-isolate even though the law only applies to staff who are unable to work due to illness (or medical recommendation) and not those who self-isolate by choice.

Do you have more questions?

For further advice and guidance in relation to staff and Coronavirus or any other Employment Law query, contact us on 01634 564 136 or email us at info@orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk

Planning for changes in Employment Law for 2020

2020 is another year of changes to the world of employment law and HR. In this blog, we are talking about some of the changes that we know are already going to happen, and, of course, that much discussed and debated subject that is Brexit.

Written Statement of Terms and Conditions (Contracts)

First up, we have the Written Statement of Terms and Conditions, also known as a Contract.

Currently, an employer has up to eight weeks to supply Terms and Conditions of Employment to all employees who have been continuously employed for more than one month.

From 6th April 2020, all new employees and workers will have the right to a Statement of Written Particulars from their first day of employment. Additional information will also need to be included as part of this new extended right.

Employers will need to prepare for this change during their recruitment process and have the Employment Contract sent to their chosen candidate before ‘day one’ of employment.

Employers will also need to consider who will qualify as a worker, and issue Employment Contracts to employees whilst using a separate template when issuing particulars for workers.

 

Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay

There is currently no law regarding bereavement leave and pay for parents.

The Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018 is due to come into force in April 2020. However, this has not yet been confirmed.

If it does come into force, parents who suffer the loss of a child under the age of 18 years or a stillbirth after 24 weeks’ of pregnancy, will have the right to two weeks’ bereavement leave and, in some cases, pay.

We have not yet received any details of the new entitlement or those who will qualify and these will be set out in separate regulations.

However, we do know that bereaved parents will be entitled to take this leave in one two-week block or in two separate blocks of one week and that the leave must be taken before the end of a period of at least 56 days beginning with the date of the child’s death.

Bereaved parents who have been continuously employed for a minimum of 26 weeks will also be entitled to receive Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay. Parents with less than 26 weeks’ continuous service will be entitled to take two weeks’ of unpaid leave.

 

Agency Worker Rights

There are three important changes to Agency Worker Rights which will come into effect on 6th April 2020: –

  • Currently, the Agency Worker Regulations 2010 entitles agency workers to receive the same pay and basic working conditions as direct employees once they have completed 12 weeks’ continuous service working in the same role.

Under the Swedish Derogation (sometimes referred to as ‘pay between assignments’ contracts), agency workers are able to agree to a contract which removes this right.

From 6th April 2020, the Swedish Derogation will be abolished and these contracts will no longer be permissible. All agency workers, after 12 weeks’ continuous service, will be entitled to the same rate of pay as their permanent coworkers;

  • From 6th April 2020, all agency workers will be entitled to receive a Key Information Statement which sets out more clearly what their employment relationship is and the terms and conditions with their agency;
  • From 6th April 2020, all agency workers who are considered as employees will be protected from unfair dismissal and/or suffering a detriment if the reasons are in relation to asserting rights linked to The Agency Worker Regulations 2010.

 

Holiday Pay Calculations

The current way to calculate holiday pay can be complicated, especially for those employees with variable hours and variable rates of pay. The current holiday pay reference period is 12 weeks.

From 6th April 2020, this holiday pay reference period will increase to 52 weeks, meaning that employers will need to look at the previous 52 weeks where a worker has worked and received pay (disregarding any weeks when the worker did not work or where no payment was received) in order to calculate the average weekly pay.

 

National Minimum Wage Amounts

National Minimum and Living Wage amounts always change in April of each year and 2020 is no different.

The current rates are as follows: –

Age Rate

25 years and over £8.21

21 to 24 years £7.70

18 to 20 years £6.15

Under 18 years £4.35

Apprentice £3.90

From 6th April 2020, these rates will change, as follows: –

Age Rate

25 years and over £8.72

21 to 24 years £8.20

18 to 20 years £6.45

Under 18 years £4.55

Apprentice £4.15

 

Brexit

First of all, we all know that the UK is due to leave the European Union at midnight on Friday 31st January and when this happens, it is likely to bring about changes to the way the employment law world works, although any changes are unlikely to happen straight away. However, businesses will still need to be prepared.

At the moment, existing legislation and case law still applies and will continue to do so until new legislation is brought in.

Whether or not the UK is able to withdraw from current EU legislation and requirements will, ultimately, depend on the UK’s relationship with the EU and other countries. It is possible that trade agreements with other countries will be based upon some if not all, current EU employment legislation.

Any changes that do come into force will not necessarily be immediate or even significant, for the following reasons: –

  • A lot of EU employment law is based on UK legislation, meaning these will remain in place until amended;
  • Many UK employment rights, such as National Minimum Wage Amounts and unfair dismissal rights, do not arise from EU legislation.
  • In many other cases, UK legislation provides protection which far exceeds the EU minimum, for example, maternity leave and the right to 5.6 weeks’ holiday (EU law states a four-week minimum).
  • Changes to primary legislation need the approval of Parliament, and so the Government at the time of any changes will need to consider whether any amendments are politically favourable.

If you have any questions or queries about anything in this blog, or if there is anything employment law or HR related that you need help with, please get in touch with us by emailing info@orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk 

The Pro’s and Con’s of using HR Software

Have you ever wondered what an Online HR Information System is? Or why it could
be beneficial to use one?
Well, put simply, a Human Resource Information System (HRIS) is an online
software solution for data entry, data tracking and data information for the Human
Resource department of a business, including payroll, management and accounting
functions. It is an incredibly useful tool for all processes that a business wants or
needs in order to track and from which to gather useful and purposeful data.
As your business grows, you may find that managing your business’s human
resources can become more and more complicated as the number of employees increases.
In a lot of businesses, the HR person or department often face a dilemma with managers
wanting to be able to improve the overall work environment for employees but also
needing the time to be able to deal with the paperwork and routine administrative
tasks that come with the job.
To address these routine tasks, many businesses will use a Human Resource
Information System (HRIS) to help improve productivity.

Benefits To The Employer

There are many different benefits to using an HRIS, for both employer and
employee. These include: –
Faster Integration
With many businesses growing rapidly, it is obvious that new employees are
required. But with new employees comes more employee integration into the
business, and this can mean that many, many hours are eaten up with paperwork
and processes and administrative tasks, simply to get that employee up and running.
By using an HRIS, the integration process can be a more efficient and consistent
one. Such a system provides easy access to training materials and handbooks for
new employees, and employee information can be stored in one convenient, easy-
to-access place.
Access To Information
How often do you or your HR team need to access employee information? We can
imagine that this is a fairly regular need and if you keep employee records in a well-
organised filing cabinet in the office then this won’t necessarily take up vast amounts
of time. However, if your files are kept in a storage room, or a highly disorganised
filing cabinet, you could be losing hours and hours of productivity. Your files are also
at a high risk of being lost or compromised.
An HRIS system can eliminate paper and turn all of your employee records into
easy-to-access online data, which can then be retrieved by anyone with the correct
authorisation.
Recurring Tasks
Many businesses will have various different tasks that recur on a regular basis and
which could be easily automated by the right HRIS.
For example, by automating your payroll system with your HRIS, you can take back
hours of work for your HR department.
Tasks such as holiday requests and employee time management can also be
approved or denied automatically, saving even more hours for your team.
Employee Tracking
Your business will always run more smoothly when you know who is working where
and who is unaccounted for.
An HRIS will allow your HR team to know exactly where your employees are in case
they are needed or if there is an emergency.

Benefits for the Employee

An HRIS id not only a benefit to your HR department. Your employees also
get added benefits and a more flexible work environment.
Quicker Access to Information
Employee self-service is on the rise within a lot of businesses at the moment. But, of
course, employees will always have questions about the terms and conditions of
their employment, salaries, holiday and other types leave, and many more things.
This means that your HR department will always be busy answering these questions
for each and every employee in your business.
The correct HRIS will provide a better employee self-service and, thus, higher
employee satisfaction.
Of course, with pros also come cons, and online Human Resource Information
Systems are no different.

Cons Of Using an HR Information System

High cost
Most people are pleasantly surprised to find that HRIS is not very costly. Although there is a cost attached it does save you and your business money in the long-
run.
Not all HRIS’ are perfect for all businesses
There are also many different systems available, all offering different solutions to
different problems and they may not always be the best fit for your business. This
can mean changing systems until you find the right one for your business
Therefore, if your business is lacking in sufficient upfront funds, this can prove to be
difficult to achieve.
Impersonal
Some businesses may see an HRIS as very impersonal and may decide to stick to
the traditional way of doing things.
Of course, this may be an issue and we would, therefore, suggest having regular
meetings or catch-ups to ensure that you keep the personal side of things going.
Perhaps hold a monthly staff meeting to find out if any employees have anything on
their minds, or if they have any suggestions to help the business move forward
further.
Wellbeing meetings are always a good idea as well. The purpose of these
meetings, held individually, is to ensure that each employee is happy and there are
not any issues that need to be dealt with.

Summary

The benefits of having a Human Resource Information System are vast for both your
HR team and the rest of your employees.
You need to make sure that you choose the right system for your business and once
you have done so, you will save both time and money, as well as provide a cutting
edge work environment that your entire team will benefit from. We are happy to say that both we and many of our clients are already using an online HRIS and we absolutely love the simplicity of it.
We sell a system provided by Breathe HR which is available as part of our packages
or stand-alone. If you would like any more information, contact us at
info@orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk

Things To Look Out For In 2019

It’s hard to believe that we are already in 2019.

This year, there are a few different changes to legislation that will come into force and which you should be aware of in your business.

There will, of course, be more new laws and other legislative amendments throughout the year, but for now, here is a summary of the changes that we already know about.

 

National Living Wage Will Increase

From April, the UK National Living Wage will increase from £7.83 to £8.21 per hour. This will benefit around 2.4million workers and is an average £690 annual pay rise for full-time employees.

Other National Wage Rate changes are as follows: –

Age Group New Rate Current Rate

25 & Over £8.21 £7.83

21 to 24 £7.70 £7.38

18 to 20 £6.15 £5.90

Under 18 £4.35 £4.20

Apprentice £3.90 £3.70

 

Income Tax Thresholds Will Increase

The tax-free Personal Allowance will increase by another £650 in April to £12,500 – this is the amount you earn before you have to start paying income tax.

This means a basic rate taxpayer will pay £1,205 less tax in 2019-20 than in 2010-11.

And the amount that someone will have to earn before they start paying tax at the Higher Rate Threshold of 40% will increase from £46,350 to £50,000 in April, meaning that there is an additional £730 for people who earn above £50,000.

However, those earning more than £100,000 will not benefit as much, or even at all.

 

National Minimum Wage For Sleep-Ins

Last year, the Court of Appeal decided that people who work sleep-in shifts, i.e. nurses and care workers, are not entitled to the National Minimum Wage for any time that they spend sleeping and are ‘available for work’ but not ‘actually working’.

A request to appeal this decision was lodged with the Supreme Court and a decision is expected in 2019.

 

Pension Contributions

The minimum contributions for auto-enrolment pension schemes will increase for both employers and employees from April.

Current legislation means that employers must contribute a minimum of 2% of an employee’s pre-tax salary, with the employee contributing 3%.

Under the new legislation, employers and employees will now have to contribute a minimum of 3% and 5% respectively.

 

Itemised Payslips

From 6th April, a person’s legal right to receive a payslip will be extended so as to include workers as well as employees, such as contractors and freelancers.

Employers will also be required to include the total number of hours worked on payslips for employees whose wages vary depending on how much time they have worked. The payslip will also need to include the total number of hours worked for variable pay rates.

 

Sick Pay and Statutory Family Pay Rates To Increase

Statutory Family Pay Rates are likely to increase to £148.68 in April. This rate will apply to Maternity Pay, Adoption Pay, Paternity Pay, Shared Parental Pay and Maternity Allowance.

The weekly rate for Statutory Sick Pay is likely to increase to £94.25 from 6th April.

 

Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay

It was confirmed last year that the Government will be introducing a right for bereaved parents to take paid time off work.

Under the current proposals, parents who have suffered a bereavement will be able to take leave as a single two-week period, as two separate periods of one week each, or as a single week.

They will be entitled to take such leave within 56 weeks of their child’s death.

It is expected that this new legislation will come into effect in April 2020, but employers should start preparing for it this year.

Employers may also decide to introduce their own Bereavement Leave Policy if they do not already have one.

 

Further Changes To The Apprenticeship Levy To Support Employers

From April, larger businesses will be able to invest up to 25% of their Apprenticeship Levy into supporting apprentices in their own supply chain.

Further, some employers will only be required to pay half of what they currently pay for apprenticeship training – down from 10% to 5%. The Government will be paying the remaining 95%.

 

The Annual Investment Allowance Will Increase

The Annual Investment Allowance increased from £200,000 to £1million on 1st January 2019. This will end on 31st December 2020 and will help businesses to invest and grow.

In addition to this, from October 2018, businesses are now able to deduct 2% of the cost of any new non-residential structures and buildings from their profits before they pay tax.

 

Post-Brexit Immigration Rules

What are likely to possibly be the most significant changes to occur in 2019 are those relating to the employment of EU nationals, regardless of whether a deal on the UK’s exit from the EU is agreed or not.

Once the UK leaves the EU, free-movement will end. However, it is highly likely that this will be delayed pending legislation to repeal current laws. It will also take time to put into place the practical arrangements necessary to make these changes possible.

The Government has introduced a scheme in which EU workers who are already living in the UK will be able to apply for “settled status”, in order that they will be able to continue to live and work in the UK indefinitely.

However, employers should be aware that, moving forwards, the employment of EU nationals is highly likely to be subject to the same restrictions as those involving the employment of other foreign nationals. Employers will, therefore, need to adapt their recruitment processes as a result.

If you would like any further information on how these changes will affect you and your business, please email us at info@orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk We’d be happy to help.