Category Archives: blog

An Employer’s Guide to Remote Working

Given the recent Government announcements on increasing national restrictions amidst the Coronavirus pandemic crisis, there is an ongoing debate about the merits and effectiveness of working remotely versus working in a traditional office building. Recent research indicates that more than half of workers are reluctant to return to the office. Adaptation to remote working, returning to work and a hybrid model will continue to evolve, albeit at a far more rapid pace in the 2020s than it did in the 2010s.

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Car Sharing During COVID-19

On Tuesday 22nd September 2020, the First Minister of Scotland announced that car sharing should no longer be carried out and businesses are urged to avoid car sharing, where possible.

The Scottish Government website has clarified this and says:

  • “You should only car share with members of your own, or extended, household, and follow guidance when there is no alternative”

How will this effect businesses where multiple staff will travel in the same vehicle?

It is recognised that there may be situations where driving for work requires multiple people to be within the one vehicle, in this instance, the business is required to carry out a risk assessment and implement suitable control measures.

On such occasions, you should:

  • Keep to small groups of people
  • Keep your distance and take care entering and exiting the vehicle
  • Sit as far apart as possible in the vehicle, avoiding face-to-face
  • Maintain good ventilation by keeping the car windows open (where possible)
  • Wear a face-covering for the duration of the journey
  • Clean your hands before and after your journey and utilise hand sanitiser
  • If the vehicle is your responsibility, clean the door handles and other areas that people touch
  • If you regularly share transport whether it is a car, van, lorry etc. try and share with the same people each time

The emphasis will be on the employer who will need to demonstrate that there was no other reasonable alternative and are required to mitigate any risks of cross infection between driver and passenger(s).


If we can help you with this or any other Health and Safety issue, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our Health and Safety Team on 0800 652 2610 – select option 2 for Health and Safety.

 

Personal Hygiene

Covid-19 Risk Assessment Reminder

Conducting a Covid-19 risk assessment is both a necessary and vital part of managing infection within your organisation. However, your responsibilities extend far beyond that. When your staff return, it is your responsibility to implement and enforce the control measures set out in the assessment i.e. ensuring social distancing, providing hand sanitising stations, ensuring PPE is available etc.

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HR Services Scotland Receives New ACP Membership Certification

The team at HR Services Scotland Ltd are delighted to have achieved BSI certification on our Associate Consultant Membership. This is awarded based on evidence of projects delivered, training, competency and experience against the standards included on the certificate.

The standards to which our consultancy services are included are as follows:

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5 Steps for a Safe Return to the Workplace

Both the Scottish and British governments have recently outlined phased strategies for ending the restrictions currently in place as part of the COVID-19 public lockdown.

With many businesses now contemplating an eventual return to their place of work, the team at HR Services Scotland has been advising many of our clients on Health & Safety measures to take when planning to reopen their workplace.

Here are some of the practical actions we would advise businesses to take based on 5 main steps:

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An Employers’ Guide to Working from Home

With remote working recently becoming essential for many businesses, employers must look at adapting how they manage their employees while they are working from home.

For any employee working from home, the employer should:

  • pay the employee as usual
  • keep in regular contact
  • check on the employee’s health and wellbeing

Employers and employees should be practical, flexible and sensitive to each other’s situation when working from home because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Employers should:

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Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme & Furlough Update

Which employers are eligible?

The guidance provides that the scheme is designed to help employers whose operations have been severely affected by COVID-19 “to retain their employees and protect the UK economy”. However, it makes clear that all employers (rather than “UK employers”) are eligible to claim under the scheme “and the government recognises different businesses will face different impacts from coronavirus”. Under the new guidance any entity with a UK payroll can apply for a grant provided they have:

  • Created and started a PAYE payroll scheme on or before 28 February 2020;
  • Enrolled for PAYE online (this is new); and
  • A UK bank account

Which workers are eligible to be furloughed?

Individuals who ceased to be on your PAYE payroll after 28 February 2020 can be re-employed and furloughed:

  • It doesn’t matter why the employee left your employment (the previous guidance just referred to those who had been made redundant)
  • The ex-employee can ask to be re-employed but you are not required to re-employ them – it is up to you as the employer to decide what to do (although there could be discrimination issues if you are selecting some but not all of the staff that left, so take advice if this is the case)

There is more detail on the types of workers that are covered by the scheme:

  • Salaried LLP members, office holders including company directors, agency workers including those employed by umbrella companies and Limb (b) Workers who are paid through PAYE are all covered. As are apprentices and foreign nationals
  • Employees who are shielding, or who can’t work due to caring responsibilities, are covered, as are employees that started unpaid leave after 28 February 2020
  • Employees on fixed term contracts can be furloughed. You can extend or renew their contracts while they are furloughed
  • To be eligible for a grant under the scheme for employees you wish to furlough, you must confirm in writing to them that they have been furloughed and keep a record of this for five years

What rules apply during furlough leave?

Employees who are furloughed are not allowed to perform any work for you (or a linked or associated company) other than training:

  • BUT they are permitted to work for other employers and
  • You are free to consider allocating any critical business tasks to staff that are not furloughed
  • Employees with more than one job can be furloughed by all or any of their employers and the pay cap applies to each employer individually
  • Employees can be furloughed multiple times provided each period of furlough leave is a minimum of 3 weeks (this means you can rotate your staff on and off furlough)

How much can you claim?

There is more detail on how much you can claim:

  • You will be able to claim for 80% of pay subject to a cap of £2,500 – it is now clear that these figures are before tax
  • For those employees whose pay varies, “pay” means an employee’s “regular” contractual pay which includes wages, “compulsory commission” (which presumably means contractual past commission earned) and past overtime
  • Variable pay does not include discretionary bonuses, discretionary commission, tips, non-cash payments or benefits in kind (e.g. gym membership)

New guidance is given for those employees on salary sacrifice:

  • The lower sacrificed salary is the relevant amount to take into account for the purposes of claiming from the scheme
  • BUT HMRC has confirmed COVID-19 is a “life event” which means employees can revert to their pre-salary sacrificed salary if they wish
  • Grants under the scheme cannot be used to cover redundancy payments (but nothing is mentioned about notice payments)

Are there any uncertainties still?

No clarification is given on the uncertainties around holidays. However:

  • We note that ACAS guidance indicates that a furloughed employee can take annual leave at the same time as being on furlough leave.
  • Nevertheless, there remains a risk that if employees take holiday leave during furlough leave (e.g. for pre-booked holiday or for bank holidays they are contractually entitled to), the furlough scheme will not cover the pay for that leave
  • If you are considering requiring your employees to take holiday whilst on furlough leave, you should take advice.

No further clarification is given around maternity and other parental leave during furlough or as regards sickness during furlough leave:

  • It is still unclear whether an employee who is sick during furlough reverts to sick leave (and therefore Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) and their employer’s sick pay scheme (if relevant)). It may be advisable to suspend the operation of the company sick pay scheme during furlough leave
  • The updated guidance does say that you cannot claim for employees while they’re getting SSP, but they can be furloughed and claimed for once they are no longer receiving SSP
  • Also unclear is whether an employer’s claim for a grant to cover enhanced maternity pay has the effect of ending maternity leave, which could put at risk any SMP entitlement at risk when furlough leave ends

Do employers have to pay full holiday pay if holiday is taken during a furlough period?

Based on extensive previous case law, holiday pay must be based on normal remuneration. This applies for at least the four weeks EU minimum leave and includes overtime, allowances, commission and bonuses, meaning employees do not get less pay when they are not working.

Normal remuneration is assessed over an average of 52 weeks from April 2020 (formerly 12 weeks) so annual leave during furlough must be based on normal remuneration. Although it is more expensive to have an employee on holiday rather than furlough, the advantage for the employer is that the employee’s remaining holiday entitlement between now and the end of the holiday year is reduced.

In the absence of express guidance employers who force furloughed employees to take holiday can claim the 80% grant money from HMRC for employees on holiday leave as they are not at work and not working. However, it seems employers have to top the holiday pay to the full salary amount in contrast to the furlough period where they can choose to top up pay (or not).

This need to top up applies for at least the four weeks EU minimum leave. For the remaining 1.6 weeks there is a potential legal argument that an employer could get the employee to consent to just being paid the 80% but employers should probably pay the full amount for the entire holiday period too.

The guidance is not clear on the relationship between furlough and holiday, the interrelationship is untested and legal advice may need to be taken if a problem arises.


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 2 for HR

Employment Law Update from 6th April 2020

New legislation making major changes to existing employment regulations has come into force with effect from Monday 6 April 2020.

The most significant changes are:

Parental Bereavement Leave & Pay

The Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay Act 2018 gives all employed parents the right to 2 weeks’ paid leave if their child aged under 18 dies, or if they have a stillbirth at 24 weeks or later.

Contract of Employment (‘written statement of employment particulars’)

Workers now have the same right as employees to written contractual terms and conditions of service (a ‘written statement of employment particulars’) from their employer.
Employers must provide their workers and employees with their written statement on or before their first day of employment, no matter how long they are employed for.
The written statement must include details about:

  • the hours and days of the week the worker or employee is required to work, and whether they may be varied and how
  • entitlements to any paid leave
  • any other benefits not covered elsewhere in the written statement
  • any probationary period
  • any training provided by the employer

Agency Workers’ Rights

The Swedish Derogation (referred to as ‘pay between assignments’ contracts) is abolished from 6 April 2020, so all agency workers are entitled to the same rate of pay as their permanent counterparts after 12 weeks.
All agency workers are entitled to a key information document that clearly sets out the type of contract they will have and the pay they’ll receive.

ICE (Information and Consultation of Employees) Regulations

From 6 April 2020, it’s been made easier to request an information and consultation agreement. A minimum of 2%, rather than 10% of employees (or at least 15 people), in workplaces with 50 employees or more can request a formal agreement to be informed and consulted about workplace matters.

Changes to Holiday Pay Calculations

From 6 April 2020, the period used to calculate a week’s pay for holiday pay purposes increases from the previous 12 weeks of work to the previous 52 weeks.


If we can help you with this or any other issue, please don’t hesitate to contact a member of our HR team at HR Services Scotland Ltd on 0800 6522610.

An Employer’s Guide to Furlough

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis. The scheme is intended to apply to employers who cannot cover staff costs due to COVID-19.

At present the scheme is open to all UK businesses and applies to all employees listed on your PAYE payroll as of 28th February 2020, but the ability to furlough employees under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be in operation from the end of April.

HR Services Scotland have prepared a guide for employers detailing what is involved with the furlough of employees under this scheme.

View & Download our ‘Employers Guide to Furlough’

If we can help you with any issues relating to the Coronavirus outbreak, please don’t hesitate to contact a member of our team at HR Services Scotland Ltd on 0800 6522610.

Summary of COVID-19 Support Available for Businesses in Scotland

HR Services Scotland have compiled a summary of the business support and guidance available for Scottish companies during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This includes information on:

  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
  • Income Tax Payments Deferral
  • Statutory Sick Pay Relief Package
  • Scottish Government Coronavirus Business Support Fund
  • Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
  • COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility
    and more…

View & Download our ‘Business Support Summary’

If we can help you with any issues relating to the Coronavirus outbreak, please don’t hesitate to contact a member of our team at HR Services Scotland Ltd on 0800 6522610.