A number of Employers will have been recruiting or will have recently agreed contracts with new starts.
As we know, most recruitment projects have been postponed until the Autumn (or the next earliest opportunity) as travel has been vastly restricted, the ability to complete any interviews face-to-face has been removed (unless you're open to video conferencing) and it would prove extremely difficult to agree new contracts during this time due to uncertainty.
However, what about those Employers who have already agreed new starts? New Employees that were due to start working for you soon and have already resigned from their previous Employer - what can we do about them?
We have received a number of questions about the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme or the "80% Scheme" - as it's being referred to.
There have been few details released yet and so we can only offer our opinion at this stage. We will upload guidelines on the scheme as new information is released.
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme means that any Employers that:
As the situation continues to unfold, our team are taking calls and emails looking for support and reassurance on similar topics so we've pulled together the most Frequently Asked Questions.
How does the sick pay work? Do I have to pay SSP? Do I have to pay CSP?
SSP is a legal entitlement for employees who are "off sick" - in these circumstances, self-isolation is being classified under this banner. So, if your employee is off due to self-isolation for whatever reason they are entitled to SSP.
If you have under 250 employees (SMEs) then you will be able to claim this back from day one - we're unsure of the procedures around this as they have not been clearly laid out, so this is something to watch out for. So the simple answer is: yes, you have to pay SSP.
So what options do you have as an employer to reduce your resource and reduce your "people" costs accordingly - if you don't have the option of providing home-working alternatives?
1. Weekly Rotations
An quick way to reduce your in-office staff and your expenses is to implement weekly rotations. After identifying the number of staff required for key functions, you arrange for that number of staff to be available in-office weekly while the rest of your employees remain at home. This gives all employees the opportunity to earn a full wage every second week - and in the weeks they're at home you could either put the employee on SSP or agree a lower rate of pay.
We're not oblivious to the fact that changes in your resourcing may be required if the situation continues to worsen. So what steps should you be looking at now?
We're suggesting that you look at your resource as a whole and identify:
1. How many people can you have working in your office at any one time, ensuring there is adequate social distance (and where possible they're working in different spaces)?
Most office spaces require employees to sit elbow-to-elbow; opposite each other; in neighbouring cubicles - to ensure a minimum of 2 metres between each employee, how many individuals could you have in the space at any one time? If you have private meeting rooms or offices, could you set these up at working areas allowing employees to work in their own space?
As we know, there are no immediate plans to close the schools - however, for those with school-aged children - you will have noticed a distinct reduction of pupils. There have also been calls for action as teachers begin to self-isolate, leaving classes unsupervised, with the #Covid19walkout making it's rounds on Twitter - encouraging both students and teachers to self-isolate.
What are the plans with the schools?
As far as we know - confirmed by sources inside several schools in the Edinburgh district, both state and private - the schools are attempting to stay open until the Easter holidays. Which would be around the beginning of April, then they will close all the way through until the Autumn.
However, this could change rapidly dependent on the PM's ongoing announcements; we have also seen schools close completely when a student has been identified with COVID-19 as a protective measure.
We're in an unprecedented situation in regards to staff absence; but we have to manage absence as normal (as possible).
Your employee has contracted COVID-19:
If a member of your team has contracted the virus - this could be "suspected" as they've had interaction with another individual who has tested positive or they are showing symptoms i.e. coughing.
They should be immediately sent home and told to isolate, contacting 111 to gain a doctors line and organising a "drive-in" appointment at one of the national Coronavirus testing centres (set up at most major hospitals). If this individual has had social contact with other members of the team, you may have to consider asking them to self-isolate as well. An example would be, the employee's desk buddies - if they have not maintained adequate social distance (1-2 metres) then they have put that other employee at risk.
The employee should advise you as soon as possible as to whether they have tested positive or not. The employee should be moved onto SSP and CSP (if available) for the 14 day period - if further absence is needed after this time, you can adjust CSP as required.