Work From Home Risk Assessments

While many people are now back in their workplaces, there is still a huge section of the workforce who are working from home, with no planned date back to the office. Some workplaces are even offering working from home as an option to save on overheads and operational costs during this trying time for many businesses.

While working from home, it is important to know that your employees are as safe as they would be if they were in the office.

HR Services Scotland can offer several options to help put employers’ minds at ease and help educate employees to their own responsibilities whilst working from home.

Dependent on your business needs, some of our options include:

· Online Training – we offer a number of courses, including Health and Safety for Homeworkers

· Virtual Risk Assessments – our Health and Safety Consultants are happy to offer video call sessions to your employees to check that they are operating safely at home

·Homeworking Self-Assessment – this is a questionnaire which goes into detail around electrical safety, workstation set up etc., to ensure the employee is working safely. Recommendations would be made following this around any suggested improvements.

If you would like to find out more, please contact our team on 0800 652 2610.

GDPR Compliance

While employees work from home, most office functions have moved to remote operations. If your job requires the management of secure employee data, this could cause some issues related to GDPR compliance.

If you manage payroll or HR admin for employees, printing secure information from a home computer could end up costing your employer in fines and penalties.

Since GDPR was enacted in 2018, data security related to employee information is enforced when it comes to the collection, storage, and destruction of personal information.

If your job includes processing of employee information like payroll, medical benefits, or hiring new employees, or even if you’re printing notes from a meeting, the documents related to these activities could put your company’s GDPR compliance in jeopardy. Talk to your employees about the importance of data security and what can be printed.

Securing employee data and ensuring privacy is easier with cloud-based technology to manage payroll and HR admin. This allows you to:

  • Access data directly from any device with no need to print reports or sensitive employee data
  • Process payroll, manage appraisals, and more with integrated cloud-based tools
  • Protect employee and company data
  • Ensure you are following GDPR when working from home

Please note that this list is not exhaustive and you should contact your DPO if you have any GDPR concerns or queries.

If you have any questions related to this or any other HR or payroll issue, please contact our team on 0800 652 2610.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: Deadlines for Claims

There are currently deadlines in place for CJRS (Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme) claims, where they must be submitted within 14 calendar days after the month they relate to, unless this falls on a weekend in which case the deadline is the next weekday.

From this month, HMRC will publish the names, an indication of the value of claims and Company Registration Numbers of employers who make CJRS claims for periods from December 2020

The published value of claims will be shown within a banded range.

Your employees will also be able to check if you have made a CJRS claim on their behalf through their online Personal Tax Account from 25th February 2021.

If you have any questions relating to the CJRS or any anything else related to HR or Health and Safety, please contact our team on 0800 652 2610.

National Minimum Wage Update

National Minimum Wage Update: April 2021

From 1st April 2021, the National Minimum Wage (NMW) / National Living Wage (NLW) will increase as follows:

£8.91 per hour – 23 years old and over
£8.36 per hour – 21-22 years old
£6.56 per hour – 18-20 years old
£4.62 per hour – 16-17 years old
£4.30 per hour – for apprentices under 19 (or over 19 who are in the first year of apprenticeship)

All employers will need to check which staff are eligible for the new rates and update your payroll accordingly.

If you have any questions relating to this, then please don’t hesitate to contact our team on 0800 652 2610.

Keeping in Touch with Employees

A key factor to the success of any business is communication. Without communication, not much would get done.

This is just as important while working from home than it is whilst office based. It is vital that you maintain regular contact with your team. Some of the ways this could be implemented are:

  • Daily calls to check in – make sure your colleague is coping at home and don’t have more on than they can handle.
  • Emails – an email a day just to let someone know that you are thinking of them or letting them know that you are there for support can go a long way.
  • Team meetings – make sure these are scheduled in. Let the team see each other’s faces on screen and keep everyone informed on what is happening within the business. Have there been any changes, any new faces to meet, any news from your employees that they wish to share?

While working from home is the new normal, you may find that you miss socialising with your work colleagues more than you thought you would. Now more than ever, we need to work harder to maintain these relationships.

Here at HR Services Scotland, we have enjoyed taking part in a few of the team activities below over Zoom – we hope these help you and your team too.

  • Zoom Quizzes
  • Bingo
  • Virtual Escape Rooms
  • Virtual Coffee Breaks

Let us know if you use any of these ideas or have any fun suggestions for our team to try!

If you have any HR or Health & Safety issues you’d like to discuss, then please don’t hesitate to contact our team on 0800 652 2610.

Maintaining Structure While Working from Home

Working from home is a reality for many of us due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, but many people are struggling to adjust to their home also being their work environment.

The most useful thing to do to adjust to your working life is to build a routine that matches your office-working one as closely as possible.

Starting the Right Way

Although sitting in your pyjamas all day may seem fun at first, the novelty will soon wear off, and you might end up feeling unproductive and lethargic. Without the morning routine of an office job – wake up > shower > eat > travel > work – it’s easy to start setting that alarm a little later, and you’ll find the amount of time spent ‘lying in’ increases as time goes on.

This doesn’t mean you have to wake up at 6am, and wear your normal work clothing, but you may find the transition easier if you do wake up early enough to leave time to have a shower and get changed to start work at the same time you usually would.

It is also good to keep to your usual eating routine. If you would usually have breakfast, lunch and dinner at a set time, try to still eat at these times. This includes actually taking the time you are usually allowed for lunch to step away from your screen and take a proper break. Taking regular breaks away from your computer will ensure you stay as focused and productive as possible.

Work-Life Balance

One of the most common issues people often mention is not being able to ‘switch off’ after they have finished when working from home. It’s easier to switch off from work when you leave your office and travel back to your house as this provides a change of scenery and some time to switch off. When you are working and living in your house however, the lines can blur. It’s important you find something to do to signify the end of your working day and the start of your evening. This could be a workout, shutting down your laptop and making dinner, going for a walk or picking up a book to read.

Keeping to a routine will help you feel more productive and hopefully feel more mentally positive in this worrying time.

If you have any HR or Health and Safety related issues, please contact our team on 0800 652 2610.

Mental Health and Wellbeing of Employees

Managing the Mental Health and Wellbeing of Employees

In the current climate, the mental health and wellbeing of employees is at the forefront of everyone’s minds.

We do not yet know exactly what the mental health impacts of COVID-19 will be. There are many factors to consider including the impact of the lockdown and ongoing restrictions such as social distancing and self-isolation. Some employees will be fearful about contracting the virus; others will be anxious about family and friends. There will also be fears about job security, returning to the workplace (including using public transport for commuting) and financial concerns.

Some employees are working longer or more irregular hours and many are combining working from home with home-schooling and other family responsibilities, leading to a poor work-life balance.

Employers and HR staff may wish to consider some of the following ways to help employees manage their mental health and wellness during these difficult times and beyond:

  • Brief managers on the potential mental health implications of COVID-19 and their specific roles and responsibilities in relation to supporting staff.
  • Communicate regularly on wellbeing and mental health support, wherever possible supported by activities that encourage physical, mental, financial and social wellbeing.
  • Provide mental health awareness-raising activities – work towards a culture where is acceptable to talk about and seek support for poor mental health.
  • Provide online training courses for those on furlough – here at HR Services Scotland Ltd, we offer a wide range of Online Training options to keep the mind busy and provide a sense of achievement upon completion – click here to see just some of the courses available.

If you would like to discuss managing mental health and wellness further, then please don’t hesitate to contact our team on 0800 652 2610.

Online Training on Furlough

Online training during furlough brings real benefits to the workforce. It keeps skills sharp and can help with mental wellbeing. Anecdotal evidence suggests furlough, while under lockdown, leads to a growing sense of isolation.

What are the benefits of furlough training?

Skills acquisition:

· Employers of furloughed employees should take the opportunity to review their skill sets and explore ways to improve it to benefit both the employee and the business.

Planning ahead:

  • How will your needs have changed when things return to ‘normal’? Have you identified what the ‘new normal’ is going to be or how this will be introduced?
  • How will your employees react to the ‘new normal’? What challenges will it provoke and how can training help you remain ahead of the curve?
  • What HR issues are likely to exist for people returning to work after extended furlough? What training can we provide to offset these issues?

VIEW OUR LIST OF TRAINING COURSES

If you would like to discuss training options, please contact our Team on 0800 652 2610.

An Employer’s Guide to Home-working Regulations

With effect from Tuesday 5th January 2021, the Scottish Government passed ‘stay at home’ regulations which derive from The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Local Levels) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 under statutory law. These regulations place a duty on employers to take all reasonable steps to minimise the spread of coronavirus. This includes supporting staff to work from home for those roles that can be undertaken remotely. If staff were working from home during the first lockdown in March 2020, then they should be working from home now. The rules also place a legal duty on individuals to stay at home, which can result in fixed penalty notices or even court attendance with fines up to a maximum of £10,000. By law, everyone must stay at home unless they have a reasonable excuse for leaving the house. This can include leaving home to go to work, but only if an employee’s role cannot be done from home.

As an employer, if you are responsible for carrying on a business or proving a service in a Level 4 area you must, by law:

  • take measures which are reasonably practicable to minimise the risk of the incidence and spread of coronavirus on your premises, including for example controlling the use of, or access to, your premises (paragraph 8) of the regulations;
  • have regard to guidance issued by the Scottish Government about such measures, including this guidance (paragraph 9) of the regulations

As a benchmark, if your staff were working from home during the first lockdown in March 2020, then they should be working from home now. All employers and employees should discuss their working arrangements, and employers should take every possible step to facilitate their employees working from home. Every function that can be done by people working at home should be done in that way.

Employers are responsible by law for the health, safety and welfare at work of their workers and these responsibilities apply wherever their staff are working. Arrangements for the welfare of employees must provide for homeworkers, as well as those who work in the employer’s workplace.

Employers should not ask or direct their employees to commit an offence, nor should they put in place any arrangements which would encourage or allow their employees to break the law.

Compliance

Failure to have regard to these duties can result in enforcement actions under public health regulations. Under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (HASAWA), local authority Environmental Health Services will usually be the relevant enforcing authority for how you control the risk of coronavirus in your area. In some cases, it may be the Health & Safety Executive, but in any case, enforcing authorities will apply the same requirements.

Local authorities also have powers under public health legislation, for example, covering whether businesses should be operating physical distancing requirements, or to ensure workers in the shielded category can follow the NHS advice to self-isolate for the period specified. Where the enforcing authority identifies employers who are not taking action to comply with public health guidance to control COVID-19 health risks to workers, they will consider a range of actions to improve control of workplace risks, including the provision of specific advice to employers through to issuing enforcement notices or even prosecution.

If we can help you with this or any other HR, Finance or Employment Law issue, please do not hesitate to contact the team at HR Services Scotland Ltd on 0800 652 2610.

Employees that are shielding and are unable to work from home

As Covid-19 restrictions continue to impact on our normal working lives, there may be occasions when employees may be asked to shield due to being clinically vulnerable and at risk of becoming ill from Coronavirus. The NHS has sent notification via letter to those who must shield during the COVID pandemic. Employers who have employees who have been informed to shield, should continue to stay up to date with legislation and guidance from government on shielding.

An employee who has been informed to shield is likely be protected by The Equality Act 2010 and therefore, the employer should ensure that they do not discriminate against that employee. For example, treating that employee differently because the employee is shielding. The employer should ensure reasonable adjustments are in place to support the employee, both in the workplace and home-working if feasible.

If the employee is unable to carry out normal duties from home, the employer could consider giving the employee an alternative role to carry out during the shielding period. If this is not possible, the employer should consider utilising the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for that employee which has now been extended to 30 April 2021.

If we can help you with this or any other HR issue, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our HR Team at HR Services Scotland Ltd on 0800 652 2610 (select option 1 for HR).