HR Challenges: The Pandemic & Beyond

Date posted: 21st Dec 2020

Please note that whilst the above is accurate as of the date of publication the situation is very fluid and changes will inevitably occur. We advise that you consult with the government’s official guidance for the latest available information.

 

Managing a workforce effectively has proved one of the biggest challenges for business during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. The situation is fast moving and constantly changing with employers needing to respond rapidly and with confidence.

Employers have been faced with lockdowns, returns to work, planning for furlough and potential redundancies, all whilst trying to run their businesses. The new normal has presented further difficulties such as managing a remote workforce for the first time and dealing with employee wellbeing alongside the added responsibility of navigating the constantly updated legislation.

As we have found many clients have needed extra support during this period, we invited Nicky Jolley, founder of HR2day, to join us to give some insight around how to interpret the new legislation and deal with the challenges.

Nicky discusses current thinking on best practice and employment law guidance and answer some of the most commonly asked questions, such as;

  • Can you claim furlough whilst employees are serving their notice?
  • Can you make someone redundant whilst they are on furlough?
  • Health and safety risks around return to work and employee rights.
  • Can you ask employees to use holiday whilst they are on furlough?
  • Can you rotate employees on furlough?
  • What happens regarding Bank Holidays (such as Christmas) when staff are on furlough?

Q&A

Can you claim furlough whilst employees are serving their notice?

They used to be able to but since 01/12/2020 this is no longer allowed and employees must be paid 100% of their salary during their notice period this can either be worked or paid in lieu.

Can you make someone redundant whilst their on Furlough?

You can consult with employees whilst they are on furlough but as soon as you confirm their redundancy they must come off furlough.

Can you ask employees to use holiday whilst they are on furlough? 

Yes but the rule to this is you have to give them double the notice e.g. for 1 week you must give 2 weeks notice. Employees are also allowed to carry over 20 days holiday for the next 2 years.

What happens regarding Bank Holidays (such as Christmas) when staff are on furlough?

If staff are usually off on bank holidays you must top their pay up to 100% for this day but you can claim the 80% back. If employees don’t usually work bank holidays you can follow the above guidance on using holidays.

Can you rotate employees on furlough? 

Yes, although you may want to consider things such as client relationships & ensuring strong handovers & customer service

What can you do if an employee refuses to come back to work?

Below is extracts from the employment rights act, employees should feel safe on returning to work. The best route is to speak with the employee in the first instance and find out their worries, then invite them in for a chat / coffee so they can see the safety measures put in place but feel no obligation to stay.

S44 of the employee rights act 1996:

Employee cannot be subjected to detriment if the employee reasonably believed that there was a dangerous situation and left, or proposed to leave, the place of work or refused to return to the place of work.

S100 of the employee rights act 1996:

Dismissal of an employee will be automatically unfair if the employee reasonably believed there was a serious and imminent danger which the employee could not reasonably have been expected to avert, and the employee left or proposed to leave or refused to return to the place of work.

How do I furlough someone?

This should be done by mutual agreement, and a furlough agreement should be put in place.

What is the minimum furlough period?

There is no minimum number of weeks or days that an employee must be on furlough. However, any claim through the portal will need to cover a period of at least one week unless you are claiming for the first few days or last few days in a month.

Can my employee be furloughed from more than one job?

Yes, if your employee has more than one employer they can be furloughed for each job.   Each job is separate, and for claims for periods on or before 31 October 2020 – the cap applies to each employer individually. Employees can be furloughed in one job and receive a furloughed payment but continue working for another employer and receive their normal wages.

Do you think their will be an impact on flexible working requests in regards to home working?

Yes, if people have proven they can work at home it will be about being reasonable and fair, as well as speaking with the employee about what their flexibility is. Remember flexible working requests can only be denied for 1 of the 8 business reasons: planned structural changes, the burden of additional costs, quality or standards will suffer, they won’t be able to recruit additional staff

performance will suffer, won’t be able to reorganise work among existing staff, will struggle to meet customer demand, lack of work during the periods you propose to work.

 

Speaker

Nicky Jolley

Nicky Jolley

Nicky has experience across a variety of sectors and business types. Nicky brings a unique blend of professional expertise which is delivered in a pragmatic and action focused way delivering quick, sustainable results.

Nicky had enjoyed a leading career in HR over the past two decades, including operating at the most senior levels in the oil and gas industry as well as a number or other private sector businesses. Nicky is CIPD qualified to Level 7 in HR and specialises in partnering with clients to create HR and people strategy which translated into profit.

Nicky holds a variety of professional qualifications in her field and is a Fellow of the CIPD.


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