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.
If there are home-working facilities you may wish to put these into a rotation as well. Therefore employees could work in-office week one, at home week two, and week three they have "off" - which means they would only have one lower earning week in a month.
This option doesn't discriminate, as all employees are required to move onto the rotation including Management, which also means that economically the company can remain stable for longer as every employee is having to take a cutback.
2. Short Term Working
Another option which we think you'll see more in the coming month, is editing employee contracts to temporarily reduce their working hours. For example, an employee is contracted to 35hrs per week (over 5 days) - this could be reduced to 25hrs (over 5 days). The other option is to cut whole days from employee contracts e.g. 5 days to 4 days.
This is an acceptable temporary measure to allow for better use of resources (even if home-working is an option), and again it doesn't discriminate as you would have to apply this to all contracts within a team including management. The short fall of hours/days could be picked up on SSP or as you have otherwise negotiated.
However, you cannot just send "half the team home" randomly to reduce your resource, it must be a fair and reasoned process to ensure you avoid any claims of discrimination - and providing all employees the same opportunity to earn full pay.
3. Annualised Hours
A number of employers use annualised hours contracts already. They do what they say on the tin, instead of restricting an employee to "weekly" hours, they expect completion of a certain number of hours over a month or a year. Which allows an employer to move the hours to parts of the year which are more strained, reducing hours where business is slower.
Applying annualised hours contracts would allow you to reduce your employees current hours down week-on-week and shift those hours back into the Autumn months (when we expect to see the effects of the virus lessening).
For example, on a standard 35hr a week contract, which would total to 1624hrs per year (minus 5.6 weeks of holiday) - if you didn't specify where these hours were to go (each month you would need to advise the employee how many hours you expected them to work, so for a standard month this would 135 hours) then you would have the freedom - at this stage - to reduce monthly working hours to 100 hours or less, shifting the surplus to later months.
Normally these contracts pay a fixed salary per month, however, you could negotiate that for the time being you will pay per hour (based on their annual salary), so they are guaranteed their full annual salary overall but they will see less during the coming months. (Once the virus threat was removed you could move to offering a fixed 12th of their annual salary per month as per normal annual hours contracts).
4. Job Sharing
Another option that's been around for a while but employers don't tend to like it. Put job sharing in place - similar to weekly rotations - after identifying your key operational tasks you could divide your team into suitable pairs who split the job between them for the time-being.
You would also benefit from greater cover with this option, for example, two employees who currently work 35 hours, reduce to 20 hours each (cost wise this reduces from 60 hours paid to 40 hours) but allows the employer greater flexibility in covering "opening hours" by increasing daily hours from 7 (minus break) to 8. Employee one then works two 8 hour days and one 4 hour, with employee two picking up the latter half of the 4 hour shift before working their two 8 hour days.
The last option we should be considering is looking at staff redundancies. Obviously this is a difficult subject that we strongly advise you talk to the Greenburn team about prior to taking any steps - so we can ensure every other option has been reviewed thoroughly and the decisions are fair and reasonable.