Category Archives: HR Services

Is Your Business Ready For The Upcoming Changes To The Government Job Retention Scheme?

Since the Government lockdown at the end of March 2020, HR Services Scotland Ltd have been working hard to redesign their working methods and practices in order to continue to fully support our client base.

With effect from Wednesday 1st July 2020, the Government initiated the flexible furlough scheme whereby employers could bring previously furloughed employees safely back into the working environment on a part-time/reduced hours basis, and retain them on furlough leave for the remainder of their contractual hours whilst still claiming 80% back from the Government Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Whilst the flexible furlough scheme will be in place until 31st October 2020, after which the job retention scheme will completely cease, employers need to be mindful that from 1st August 2020, they will be required to make contributions to their employee’s wage as follows:

  • From 1st August 2020, businesses will be expected to contribute to employer NICs and pensions
  • From 1st September 2020, businesses will be expected to contribute 10% of the wage bill, with the Government contributing 70% to make up the 80%
  • From 1st October 2020, businesses will be expected to contribute 20% of the wage bill, with the Government contributing 60% to make up the 80%
  • The flexible furlough scheme ends on 31st October 2020

With all of this in mind, employers must consider their options now to plan for contributions beginning 1st August 2020 and what this means for them, both economically and commercially.

1st August 2020 is an important day for organisations in the UK.

For many organisations, 1st August 2020 will be the start of a very important period of post-coronavirus economic recovery. This is because the measures put into place by the Government, to help the country survive through the pandemic, will slowly unwind from 1st August.

As a result of this, organisations are reminded of the following:

  • Contributions to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough scheme) will soon begin
  • 31st July 2020 is the last date that organisations can make claims to the Job Retention Scheme for the period ending 30th June 2020
  • Shielding is coming to a pause until at least 31st July 2020
  • Organisations will have discretion over staff’s ability to work from home

The Furlough Scheme

Furloughing is when employees are placed on a temporary leave of absence where they do not carry out any work and receive no pay but are retained on an organisation’s books to be brought back when needed. Whilst furlough traditionally means that the affected employee will receive no pay, the Job Retention Scheme includes a grant from the Government to cover at least 80% of furloughed employees’ wages, to a maximum of £2,500 per employee per month.

Although the scheme does not end until 31st October 2020, as abovementioned, there are two developments on the furlough scheme occurring on 1st August 2020. The first is that organisations must begin to make employer’s National Insurance contributions and pension contributions to furloughed workers’ wage costs. The 80% grant paid by the Government will continue at a cap of £2,500 until the end of August. The next thing to note in relation to the furlough scheme is regarding claim periods. There is a one-off deadline of 31st July 2020 that organisations have to make a claim under the Job Retention Scheme for furloughed staff. This applies to the period up to and including 30th June 2020.


Shielding was introduced for clinically vulnerable people as a measure to both protect said individuals and relieve pressure on the NHS at the peak of the pandemic. In the UK this will be paused from 1st August 2020, which means that employers will be able to return these staff to the workplace.


From 1st August 2020, organisations across the UK will be granted more discretion to end any homeworking measures implemented as a result of lockdown. The Government has affirmed that it is for organisations to decide how to run workplaces safely and ensure all appropriate health and safety measures are in place prior to staff returning to work. This discretion does, however, still include the powers to allow some staff to keep working from home for as long as they need to, for example, due to health conditions. Either way, employees should be consulted on plans and must not be forced to return to work if it is not safe to do so.

Redundancy Programmes

There is little doubt as a result of these unprecedented times caused by the Covid-19 pandemic that redundancies are on the rise. They are also beset with issues not experienced before, such as how should they be conducted during the lockdown or whilst staff remain on furlough or flexible furlough leave. We must stress from the outset that there is a proper due process that must always be followed and clearly and concisely documented. Make technical errors in this process and you could be hit with unfair dismissal claims. These can be expensive with up to 52 weeks’ gross pay being awarded. Talk to us if you need support managing the process. Key pitfalls to be wary of include not having the correct selection pools, not consulting early enough, not adhering to consultation timescales and finally, selection criteria which discriminates against anyone with a protected characteristic. These would be equally relevant during normal times, but what is different right now is how you deliver the news.

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

Information on the Redundancy Payments Service

Affordability of Redundancies

What happens when an employer finds themselves in the difficult financial position where they are unable to pay their employees statutory redundancy payments?

Under the Employment Rights Act 1996, if an employee who is being made redundant has more than 2 years’ continuous service, they are entitled to statutory redundancy pay, among other payments, as part of their termination package.

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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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Managing a Return to the Workplace After COVID-19 (Video)

While the COVID-19 public lockdown is still in place across many UK sectors, some businesses have already begun gearing up for a return to operation once the restrictions are relaxed.

HR Services Scotland has prepared this video below detailing some of the things that companies should be keeping in mind when approaching the return to work:

To review your return to work plan with a member of our team, then please contact us on 0800 652 2610.

Safely Working From Our Business – On Yours

The Commercial Team at HR Services Scotland continue to work on improved service provision while considering the needs of our clients.

Our business continuity plan has been designed with customer requirements at the forefront and we are delighted to announce that we have developed a remote solution to continue to support organisations working towards ISO certification.

We have incorporated the use of secured conferencing and cloud based technology into our pre-certification assessment activities so that the project build and maintenance reflects a work smarter approach.

The standards we support are as follows:

ISO 9001 – Quality Management System
ISO 14001 – Environmental Management System
ISO 27001 – Information Security Management System
ISO 45001 – Health and Safety Management System
BRC Global Standards – Packaging Materials Issue 6

Our services include the following:

  • Initial remote consultation to discuss the scope of the project
  • Three part gap analysis including remote interview, desktop audit and gap summary report.
  • Project plan
  • Site visit / virtual tour of the premises
  • System build
  • Implementation and training
  • Internal Audit
  • Engagement of certification body
  • Support through Stage 1 assessment
  • Support through Stage 2 assessment
  • Maintenance and support packages available

HR Services Scotland deliver bespoke management systems utilising current best practices within the organisation and structure the management system in line with the clauses of the standards therefore any organisation looking to bolt on an additional standard at a later date can do so with ease utilising the common clause arrangements previously set out.

For organisations working towards more than one standard, our in-house team can offer an integrated management system enabling the organisation to work from one system.

There are many benefits to securing UKAS accredited certification including the following:

  • Provision of quality products and services consistently
  • Work smart approach
  • Be considered for work by quality lead supply chains
  • Demonstrate your commitment to quality to your customers and supply chain
  • Demonstrate compliance of statutory and regulatory requirements
  • Approval by the UK’s National Accreditation Body – UKAS.

For more information, please call us on 0800 6522610.

An Employer’s Guide to Redundancy During Furlough Leave

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers can now access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off or made redundant during this crisis.

At present the scheme is open to all UK businesses and applies to all employees listed on your PAYE payroll as of 19th March 2020.  Payments under the scheme will be backdated from 1st March 2020.

However, despite this scheme, some employers may find they are forced to consider longer team workplace reduction plans, particularly if the job retention scheme is not extended beyond the end of June.

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

You can view this guide as a downloadable PDF at the link below:

View & Download our Employer’s Guide to Redundancy During Furlough Leave

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

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.

Operational Hours for Easter Weekend

We would like to take this opportunity to wish all of our clients and business partners a very Happy Easter.

Please stay safe during the Easter holiday and please follow the UK Government recommendations regarding social distancing.

Please see below for our full operational hours over the public holiday weekend (10th – 14th April): 

Any issues, please do not hesitate to give me a call on my work mobile to discuss.