Category Archives: HR Services

Furlough Scheme Extended To End Of September 2021

As the four devolved nations of the UK government continue to navigate their ‘roadmaps’ out of the Coronavirus crisis, in his budget of today, Wednesday 3rd March 2021, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (‘furlough’ scheme) will now be extended from 30th April 2021 to 30th September 2021 with the government continuing to contribute 80% towards wages until 30th June 2021 – giving businesses and employees across the UK certainty well into 2021.

This move further allows all UK employers with employees on a PAYE scheme to designate some or all of their employees as ‘furloughed workers’. This means that employers can access the government support to continue paying part of these furloughed employees’ salaries and potentially protect the employees from redundancy.

From today’s announcement, the government will continue to pay 80% of the salary of employees for hours not worked until the end of June 2021. Employers will only be required to pay wages, National Insurance Contributions (NICS) and pensions for hours worked; and NICS and pensions for hours not worked. Employers are still expected to pay workers normally for the hours worked.

From 1st July 2021, the government will expect employers to contribute a percentage of their employee’s wages as follows:

· Throughout July 2021, employers will contribute 10%

· Throughout August 2021, employers will contribute 20%

· Throughout September, until 30th September 2021, employers will contribute 20%

More details of the scheme, including support via grants for the self-employed will be announced in due course, and HR Services Scotland Ltd will provide updates as they emerge.

If we can help you with this or any other HR issue, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our HR 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.

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.

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).

A Festive Message For Our Clients

On behalf of the team at HR Services Scotland, we would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

As per previous years, we have made a donation to The Salvation Army rather than send a traditional printed card.

Thank you for your continued business and we look forward to working with you in 2020.

Please find our Festive Opening Hours below:

If you have any queries before our period of closure, then please get in touch with a member of our team on 0800 652 2610. Thank you for your continued business and we look forward to working with you in 2021.

Furlough Scheme Extended to April 2021

As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to affect all areas of the UK as well as globally, the government announced on 17th December 2020 that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) will now be extended from 31st March 2021 to Friday 30th April 2021 with the government continuing to contribute 80% towards wages – giving businesses and employees across the UK certainty into the new year.

You can read the recent update in full below:

HR Update: Furlough Scheme Extended to 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).

National Minimum Wage / National Living Wage Update – April 2021

The UK Government has announced an increase in the National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage rates which will come into force from April 2021.

It should be particularly noted that employees who are 23 or older will be entitled to receive the National Living Wage which will increase by 2.2% from £8.72 to £8.91 per hour as a minimum.

The National Minimum Wage bandings have been amended in light of the fact that those aged 23 or older are now to be entitled to the National Living Wage. The adjusted bandings from April 2021 are as follows:

· For those aged 23 or older, from £8.72 to £8.91 per hour

· For those aged 21 or 22, from £8.20 to £8.36 per hour

· For those aged 18, 19 or 20, from £6.45 to £6.56 per hour

· For those aged 16 or 17, from £4.55 to £4.62 per hour

· For apprentices*, from £4.15 to £4.30 per hour

*Apprentices are entitled to receive the apprentice rate if they are either aged under 19 or aged 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship.

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).

For more information about the services that we provide at HR Services Scotland, please get in touch with us here.