Update as at 23 March 2020
The situation regarding the Covid-19 outbreak has evolved a great deal during the last 7 days and will continue to do so.
Important points to note for employers are:
Social distancing should apply within the workplace wherever possible. Staff should not be working within 2 meters of one another, unless it is essential that they do so. This may require some reorganising of the workplace and/or working hours. For example, if this is impossible with all staff present, considering splitting the workforce into shifts, so that fewer staff are in the workplace at the same time.
Job Retention Scheme
The HMRC guidance, following the announcement of the job retention scheme on Friday 20 March is as follows, this will apply to staff who cannot work due to the outbreak. You will need to:
• designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers,’ and notify your employees of this change - changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and, depending on the employment contract, may be subject to negotiation
• submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings through a new online portal (HMRC will set out further details on the information required)
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
SSP is payable from day 1 to staff, who are self-isolating due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Employers with fewer than 250 staff (as at 28 February 2020) will be able to reclaim the cots of up to 2 weeks SSP per employee. The re[payment mechanism for this is currently being decided and will be published by HMRC when it is available.
Latest HR News HR legislation and info on best practice is being updated all the time.
Here are some developments which we've noticed which we think may be of value to you and your business:
National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage
The National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage are due to increase, effective from 01 April 2020. The new rates are:
• National Living Wage for employees 25 years and over £8.72 per hour (up from £8.21 per hour)
• 21-24-year-olds: £8.20 per hour (up from £7.70 per hour)
• 18-20-year-olds: £6.45 per hour (up from £6.15 per hour)
• 16 and 17-year-olds: £4.55 per hour (up from £4.35 per hour)
Apprentices will increase to £4.15 per hour, up from £3.90 per hour.
EAT Ruling on Pay for Shared Parental Leave
The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has ruled that setting the pay for Shared Parental Leave below the level of Enhance Maternity Pay is not discriminatory.
In the case of Ali v Capita Customer Management Ltd the claimant had argued he suffered direct sex discrimination, as women received 14 weeks full pay whilst on maternity leave, but he only received statutory payment for his shared parental leave.
The Employment Tribunal agreed with him and his claim was successful in 2017. However, this was overturned at appeal in April 2018.
The EAT found that the purpose of maternity leave was not only to care for the child, but also to protect the health and well-being on the mother. As paternity leave and shared parental leave are primarily to care for the child, this is not comparable to maternity leave and companies who offer enhanced pay for maternity leave are not obliged to offer enhanced pay for shared parental leave.
There is no automatic right to pay if an employee cannot get to work, due to adverse weather conditions.
If staff cannot make the journey to work, because public transport is not running or road conditions are too dangerous, they cannot expect to be paid for their time off. But it is best to have an adverse weather policy in place that covers such situations.
Employers should consider whether it is feasible for employees to work from home. If this is not possible, you can allow employees to use annual leave or possibly make the time up at a later date.
Employers can expect staff to make reasonable efforts to get to work, but this should not include taking any risks that could be detrimental to health, such as walking long distances in extreme cold or icy conditions.
If the employer decides to close the business for the day and tells staff not to come in, or sends staff home. Staff would normally be entitled to be paid for this time off. There are exceptions, if the contract of employment includes a right to temporary layoff, but this may require some payment to be made and employers should take advise before invoking this clause, as there is a risk of a claim for unlawful deductions from wages.
Businesses are understandably concerned about the effect of the Referendum vote to leave the European Union (EU) and how this might affect their workforce.
Whilst much of the UK’s current Employment Legislation is derived from EU Directives, the vote to leave does not repeal any of these existing laws.
Once formal notice the leave the EU has been given, in accordance with Article 50 on the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. The withdrawal from the union takes place after a two-year period, or when the terms for withdrawal have been agreed, whichever is earlier.
Once this has taken place the UK will be free to amend and replace existing legislation regarding employment, for example the Agency Workers Directive, Working time Directive etc. However, any changes will take place on an individual basis with the existing legislation remaining in place until any amendments are passed by parliament.
The free movement of workers from EU states will almost certainly be affected and although it is understood that, those workers already in the UK are likely to have the right to stay, possibly in exchange for a reciprocal agreement regarding UK citizens employed in EU member states. There will be an effect on the ability of employers to take on migrant workers in the future and as yet we do not know what this effect will be.
If you have any concerns about employment legislation or employing migrant workers post the Brexit vote, please contact us and we will do whatever we can to answer your questions
There has recently been a great deal of publicity regarding dress codes, highlighted by a temporary receptionist who was told to wear high heels.
Whilst it is acceptable for employers to have a dress code, including having separate requirements for male and female employees. It is important that the requirements are reasonable and can be justified.
For example, an employer can state that women must wear “business attire” and that men must wear a tie. However, it is important that any requirements do not breach the Equality Act (2010).
If a specific requirement could potentially discriminate against an employee due to a protected characteristic, either directly or indirectly, the reason for the requirement should be considered and adjustments made if necessary. For further advice about dress codes, please get in touch
Commission and Holiday Pay
The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has rejected the appeal in British Gas V Lock and upheld the decision that employees who regularly earn commission must have this taken into account when calculating holiday pay.
British Gas have now requested permission to take the case to the Court of Appeal, in an attempt to have the decision overturned. However this will take some time and in the meantime employers should abide by the ruling and take regular commission into account when staff take holidays.
A recent ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ), that time spent travelling to and from the first and last appointments of the day counts as working time for staff with no fixed place of work. Could have huge implications for UK businesses.
The ruling can impact on the Working Time Regulations and the National Minimum Wage. If adding this travel time to the working week means that employees are regularly exceeding 48 hours per week, employers will need to ask staff to sign an opt out, or adjust shifts so that they do not exceed this limit.
Employers with low paid workers will also need to ensure that they are not paying below the National Minimum Wage once the additional time is taken into account
Overtime and Holiday Pay
On 04 November 2014, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) ruled that overtime payments should be included when calculating holiday pay.
Prior to this date businesses were only required to use basic pay when calculating payments for holidays.
Antenatal Rights for Fathers
From 01 October 2014 fathers will be entitled to unpaid time off, to accompany the expectant mother to antenatal appointments.
The time allowed is limited to 2 appointments and a maximum of 6.5 hours per appointment. Employers can allow more than this if they wish.
To qualify the employee needs to be the husband, civil partner or partner of the expectant mother and/or the parent of the child. Surrogate parents may also qualify.
These rights start as soon as the employee begins work, there is no qualifying period.
With effect from 30 June 2014, the right to request Flexible Working will be extended to all employees with a minimum of 26 weeks' service.
Prior to this date, only employees with children and those that are carers have this right.
Employers will need to ensure that any policies they have in respect of requesting Flexible Working are amended to reflect this change.
"Engage have been working with Topaz since April 2012 around a number of difficult and highly sensitive HR issues.
Throughout this period I have found the services to be responsive, flexible and highly professional, with any support requirements always being met within 24 hours and often sooner.
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