COVID-19: HR Update

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In this article, the MIA shares the latest information on issues such as staff furlough leave, to help UK MI businesses think about what they need to do as employers…

Remember: The MIA’s FREE dedicated HR and Employment Law service for members

Our long-term HR partner, Nicky Gleadow of The HR Point is now available to offer guidance and support for your business in relation to HR and Employment Law.

Nicky is an experienced HR Consultant with detailed employment law knowledge, she is experienced in helping business managing reducing employment costs and also in redundancy situations. Nicky will be able to give you advice, documentation and even support you by running meetings (via Skype in the current climate) with employees if you want to have additional support when talking to your employees at this time.

The MIA has funded Nicky to allow her to support as many of you as possible further to the help Croner are able to give you. Nicky can be contacted at:

mia@thehrpoint.co.uk

01903 783584

www.thehrpoint.co.uk

Here are the latest updates from Nicky at The HR Point: 

Holiday entitlements
Last week the Government announced that the period for taking holiday has been extended due to Coronavirus.

The Working Time (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 amend regulation 13 of the Working Time Regulations to allow workers to carry over EU holiday into the next two leave years, where it is not reasonably practicable for them to take some, or all, of the holiday they are entitled to due to coronavirus.  Note regulation 13 only deals with the EU four weeks’ leave.  The balance of 1.6 weeks’ statutory leave will not be affected (although it can be carried over for up to a year by agreement under existing law).  Enhanced leave entitlements are also unaffected.

The change is aimed at allowing businesses under particular pressure from the impacts of COVID-19 the flexibility to better manage their workforce, while protecting workers’ right to paid holiday.

Holiday and furlough
Can employees take holiday while on furlough?  It is entirely possible this is permitted, but the guidance is currently silent on this.  Under current law you can require employees to take holiday by giving twice as much notice as the period of leave you want them to take.  The bigger question is if you do require employees to take holiday during furlough leave what do you pay them?  Is it 80% or 100% or “normal renumeration”?  we do not know, we have a best guess from employment law experts but we do not know how this will be interpreted in tribunals in the future!

Can I part furlough someone?
We are getting asked this – the answer is no, the guidance is clear that someone furloughed can not do any work for the employer they are furloughed from.

Can someone on furlough leave have a second job?
This is a big area of debate.  Guidance says if someone has 2 jobs they can be furloughed from one and carry on working in the other.  What it does not mention is if they can obtain a new second job while on furlough.

Do I have to furlough someone?
No, furlough is by agreement unless you have a contractual right to lay someone off.

Some employees are concerned about coming in to work, saying it is not essential and that their health is at risk from being at work.
This is a common question.  The government guidance is not that you can only do essential work, it is that you can only travel to work where you can not work from home.  The only businesses that have to be shut are those that are on the government’s list of businesses that have to close, others can carry on.  As long as you can ensure social distancing and facilities for handwashing, and any other hygiene methods to help protect your workers you can require them to come to work.

It is understandable people are worried about their health and that is why the government has the guidance on social distancing and handwashing.  As long as you are able to comply with these there is no evidence to say employees are at risk being at work.  However it is better to talk to employees understand their concerns and see how you can address them.