HR Update: Covid-19: Furlough, Job Support Scheme, Redundancy, Data Protection; Year-End Holidays; Brexit: Right to Work Checks – 14th Oct 2020

[Information edited from various sources including CIPD & Gov.uk E&EO. Please seek professional advice. Information is correct at the time of writing, and subject to change.]

Furlough Ends on 31st October – What’s next?

The Job Retention Scheme closes at the end of October, so now is the time for identifying what the next steps are and consulting with staff.

Current Furlough Employees.

The Flexible Furlough Scheme ends 31st October and claims must be made by 30th November. If you still have employees on Furlough, then you need to consult and confirm with them what the next steps are. If this means a return to work, what form will this take? If there is no longer a viable position and redundancy is possible then it may not automatically be the person on Furlough that is made redundant.

Contact us if you have staff still on Furlough and would like to discuss the next steps:

Call 01843 260704 or email amanda@holgesconsulting.co.uk.

Previous Furlough Employees.

You have the potential for a one-off £1000 Job Retention bonus for previously furloughed staff retained in work until 31st Jan 2021. It can be claimed for:

  • Employees, office holders, company directors and agency workers, including those employed by umbrella companies.
  • Those furloughed and had a Job Retention Scheme claim submitted
  • Have been continuously employed from the time of the most recent claim for them until 31st January 2021
  • Have been paid a total of at least £1560 gross throughout the tax months 6 Nov-5 Dec, 6 Dec – 5 Jan 2021 and 6 Jan – 5 Feb. With at least one taxable earning payment in each month.
  • Are not serving contractual or statutory notice that started prior to 1 Feb 2021, including retirement, for the employer

Claims can be made between 15th Feb and 31 March 2021. Further details, including how to claim will published end of January.

Job Support Scheme.

You do not need to have used the previous Furlough Scheme to be eligible. It is designed to protect viable jobs for businesses facing lower demand over the winter months due to Covid-19.

Under the scheme, employees are required to work a least 1/3 of their hours. The remainder of their normal hours not worked will be covered 1/3 by the government (up to a cap of £697.92 per month) and 1/3 by the employer. This equates to an employee working 33% of their hours and receiving 77% of their pay. A RTI submission must have been made for the employee prior to 23rd Sept. NI and Pension contributions will remain the employer’s liability. Employers cannot top up wages. JSS grant will be paid in arrears.

Contact us if you are looking to implement this and would like to confirm the full requirements, and/or would like someone to get the relevant consultation and paperwork in place:

Call 01843 260704 or email amanda@holgesconsulting.co.uk.

The scheme will also be expanded to cover those businesses required to close under lockdown procedures, that are unable to meet the minimum working hours threshold. Full details are still to be confirmed but are expected to cover 2/3 of salary up to £2,100 per month, payable a month in arrears. Employers will not have to contribute but will be liable for NI and Pension contributions.

Redundancy.

Even with the support schemes, you may find that there may be a potential for redundancy(s) to ensure the viable continuation of the business. If this is the case, then you will need to consult with your employees. This should be done early, and not just as a ‘paper’ exercise once all the decisions have been made. The process will take a few weeks (2-4) for a full and fair process, even if you are only looking for making 1 redundancy. For those with a potential for 20 or more then a statutory process will need to be followed lasting at least 30 days.

Contact us for guidelines and templates that will help this process, and for advice on how to proceed:

Call 01843 260704 or email amanda@holgesconsulting.co.uk.

Data Protection – Naming a Covid positive employee & Staff Testing

To help prevent further transmission, it would be appropriate to inform other staff if someone tests positive for Covid-19. However, remember you have data protection obligations too. Rather than naming the employee, inform those staff that they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive. ICO (Information Commissioners Office) states to keep staff informed about potential and confirmed cases but avoid naming individuals if possible.

ICO have also published guidance for companies wishing to test employees, including those not showing symptoms, as a means to reduce transmission. Remember this information falls under ‘Special Category’ data and so would need to comply with additional obligations for processing such data. Full details are here:

ICO Data Protecton Advice for companies COVID-19 testing employees >>

Reminder: Self-Isolation & SSP

Current guidelines state:

  • Anyone with Coronavirus symptoms must self-isolate for at least 10 days from the start of symptoms.
  • Those in the household must self-isolate for 14 days, even if they have no symptoms.
  • Someone with a positive test, but no symptoms, must self-isolate for at least 10 days from the date of the test
  • The NHS Test & Trace service may instruct someone to self-isolate if they have been in recent contact with someone who has tested positive.

Employees self-isolating in accordance with government advice or from the NHS Test & Trace are entitled to SSP, even if they do not have symptoms.

HOWEVER, those required to self-isolate after travelling abroad are not entitled to SSP unless they are ill.

Jan-Dec Holiday Year End

With just over 2 months to go until the end of Jan-Dec Holiday year, now is the time to act. Check to see how much holiday each employee has left. Is it viable for them to take it before the end of the year, or will it need to be carried over? Would it be beneficial for you to request them to take holiday to clear the accrual, perhaps an extended Christmas shutdown? Do you just need to send a general reminder to book holiday? Remember, untaken holiday cannot be paid for in lieu (unless the employee leaves employment). Any carry over, or request to take holiday, needs written confirmation.

Contact us if you need assistance to provide this or to check over wording:

Call 01843 260704 or email amanda@holgesconsulting.co.uk.

Post Brexit – the Transition Period ends 31st December

Just a heads up that the transition period post Brexit is starting to loom, and there will be changes in HR and business in general after this time.

Changes will occur for the importing and exporting of goods, new travel rules will apply to the EU, and Staff from EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein may need to apply for settlement. Other areas include IP, designs, transfer of data, online services, professional certification, permits. In fact a number of areas that might not seem obvious.

The government have set up a questionnaire to help identify what you or your business may need to do and to sign up for updates. If you are not sure what affect the changes may bring, it is well worth answering the questions to get an overview of what will be needed. Some areas will also need registrations which may take a week or longer to get in place, so best get them underway sooner rather than later.

Gov.uk Transition Questionnaire >>

Right to Work – Hiring workers from outside the UK post 2020

From 1 January 2021 you will need a sponsor licence to employ most workers from outside the UK. This does not apply to those you already employ. EEA (EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) and Swiss citizens living in the UK have until 30 June 2021 to apply for settlement. There will also be changes regarding checking the Right to Work for new employees from January.

Getting a Sponsor Licence is a fairly complex process that may take weeks, so if you think this may apply to you going forward, and need help, get in contact asap.

Contact us if you have questions or concerns, or need documents:

Call 01843 260704 or email amanda@holgesconsulting.co.uk.



[Information edited from various sources including CIPD & Gov.uk E&EO. Please seek professional advice. Information is correct at the time of writing, and subject to change.]

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