Whether we like it or not, most Employers will have to restructure their workforce as the UK returns to work.
This could mean anything from heavily recruiting (as we've seen across a number of sectors) to making a number of redundancies. Every decision being made is to ensure that businesses can remain open and trading, and recover as quickly as possible from any damage suffered this year.
Businesses need to work through their recovery plan, taking a longer term strategic view. Unfortunately this is one of the toughest discussions and decisions any business has to take, as it isn't about their people, it's about their livelihood. One cannot exist without the other, and it's finding the balance to allow for a effective recovery.
Many businesses may find that the post-lockdown economic shock has changed their business needs. It may not be viable to re-start the business after lockdown with the same number of staff doing the same jobs as before. Financial constraints may necessitate a re-shaping of your workforce by re-structuring: reducing hours/days of working, introducing shift patterns, job sharing, redeployment and even making some posts redundant.
It may be necessary to ask certain staff to take on more customer facing roles. These could be low risk employees or those who have had confirmed coronavirus and have some natural immunity toward re-infection; bearing in mind that social distancing measures are still in place and rotational teams provide a far more flexible workforce.
To reduce the risk of legal claims, these processes must be handled fairly and within existing legal boundaries - and pro-active communication with your staff to minimise the impact on moral is vital.
Despite the political football peppering the UK with ongoing changes daily, we all need to start thinking about how we can adjust our old ways of working to make our working environment safer to staff, visitors and customers.
Social distancing measures are likely to continue well into 2021, so what do you, as an Employer, need to start thinking about now?
Employers have a number of common law and statutory duties in relation to health and safety at work, and a starting point will be for all Employers to familiarise themselves with the latest HSE guidance and Government guidance. Detailed guidance has been released for 8 over-branching industries which is a good place to start - you can find those guidelines here:
As we know "furlough" has become the current buzzword, having never been previously heard of in the UK and with current figures stating that 25% of the UK workforce has been furloughed - a lot of us have invested in the Scheme.
The Scheme - as we know - is a grant, not a loan, and there is no debt associated. However, there are potentially some hidden stingers in the Scheme that Employer needs to be aware of.
Part of the deal you agree to when signing up for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is that you, as the Employer, agree with your Employee that they will cease all work when on furlough leave - not just "revenue earning" or "providing non-revenue services". This is where the problems could lie for businesses.
Employers are required to retain records for all Employees that have been put on furlough leave for a period of 5 years. This is to give the HMRC a significant period of time to review all applications made for the Scheme to make sure there has been no abuse of the Scheme.
With discussions of the relaxation of lockdown becoming more frequent, our thoughts turn to what lingering impact we will see for businesses as they attempt to return to normal.
The lockdown has proved one thing:
1. Which jobs are essential and require an employee to be on-site
2. Which jobs have a larger level of flexibility and could be achieved remotely
This isn't something that is going to be easily forgotten by employees and so we need are looking at what employers need to consider when returning to this "new" normal.
Something that Employees may not have considered before - another new element of working from home - is tax relief.
Some Employers may already have a working from home "allowance" included in their standard Remuneration packages for Employees. However, most Employers won't have had a huge number of Employees working from home before and so this is all new territory!
Employees can apply for a little tax relief while working from home of £6 per week to help cover some of the additional costs of working from home e.g. extended lighting, heating etc. Read on to find out all the information on how to do this!
The HMRC portal opened to much anticipation on Monday morning, and within the first half hour over 67,000 claims had been submitted - and so far, the portal has had no technical issues, with the claims expected to arrive in the individual bank accounts within 7 to 10 days.
Our previous blogs cover the subject in depth, so we having clicked through the portal we have put together a short blog covering what you need to have prepared for when you go to submit your claim - as well as a refresh of the eligibility criteria required for both Employers and Employees.
And so you don't have to write any of this done, or flick back and forth between tabs (which gets old quickly), you can click the button below and download the PDF of this blog.
As of yesterday, 15th April 2020, the Government has released further information regarding the Scheme. There are also changes to the previous information which could impact some Employers.
The major change is that, where previously eligibility was dictated by having a PAYE payroll that had started on or prior to the 28th February 2020, there has been an extension to this date giving a further three weeks of leeway for both Employers and Employees. The new date of eligibility is having a PAYE payroll on or before the 19th March 2020.
As of yesterday we had never been given clear guidance as to what to do with ex-Employees asking to be re-employed so they can be furloughed. This can still be done, however there have been restrictions put in place - the Employee must have left your employment between the 28th February and 19th March 2020, and the HMRC must have been notified of this change (on an RTI submission) on or before the 28th February 2020.
The portal for submitting your claim for the Job Retention Scheme is still due to launch at the end of April, unfortunately now - what we've heard - is that claims won't be refunded until toward the end of May.
This is a blow for Employers as it puts them under an additional months strain, and if you are struggling, talk to your financial advisors as you may want to consider a short term business loan to cover the overheads until the claim is due to refund.
For a clear list of what you will need to make a claim, read on.