Category Archives: FG Solicitors

Getting back to work

Work Safety

Announcing the extension of the furlough scheme will have provided many businesses and employees with some comfort and further financial breathing space during these challenging times. The scheme will remain in place until 31 October 2020, which is perhaps longer than initially anticipated. The scheme’s current format will however change from August with employers being required to share the cost of furloughed staff with the government.

By the end of May more detail about the post-July changes will be published. Although the aim of the changes will be to provide employers with greater flexibility to get furloughed employees back to work on a part-time basis, without the full detail of the changes, the real benefit cannot be assessed. So there will be some nervousness until the employer’s contribution has been published.

Most employers supported by the furlough scheme will sensibly defer any definite decisions about the future shape of the workforce and their return to work plans until further information is available. In the meantime, there are certain key questions that need to be answered.

Can the business return to the way it was in the short and long-term from both a financial and operational perspective and if so, how quickly can this be achieved, if at all?

Even when driven by financial necessity, furloughing employees will have been a difficult decision but in many cases it would have been implemented overnight. Bringing the operation back to life and having sufficient revenue streams to support this move is likely to be a more complex process; a new strategy may be required. Where people are at the core of the operation, workforce planning will be an critical part of developing a new strategy, which may inevitably involve restructuring and redundancies. Changes to contractual terms and conditions of employment may also be necessary. In either case, careful planning will ensure that all legal obligations, including complying with any consultation requirements are satisfied to minimise the risk of claims in the employment tribunal.

How will employees’ expectations be managed?

Until the recent announcement, the focus has been on the furlough scheme ending at the end of June. In contrast to the suggestion furlough is addictive, the majority of those furloughed will have been focusing on returning to work on 1 July, which is probably what individuals believed they were signing up to under their furlough agreements. Financial reasons will be at the heart of the decision for any business to utilise the scheme for as long as possible. In making this decision, employers need to be able to address employees’ current expectations, not only in terms of a continued requirement to remain at home but also the financial impact that it may have on them personally.  A clearly communicated rationale and a keeping in touch plan will be essential to retain the engagement of those on long-term furlough, if those employees are key to future business success once the recovery period is underway.

The consequence of long-term furlough means that employees are being asked to agree to a continued variation of their contracts of employment. If furlough is to be extended it will be important to establish if current furlough agreements can be relied upon or whether new agreements will need to be issued to avoid breach of contract and wage claims.

Are there any health considerations that need to be addressed in the return to work plan?

There is still no certainty about the curtailment of the virus and the health risks are still present. Any return to work plan must be supported by a thorough health risk assessment. The assessment needs to start from an employee’s home and include their journey to and from work. It is difficult to control who individuals come into contact with when away from work. Control measures will need to be implemented, including reiterating the importance of following the government’s social distancing measures and good hygiene. Further hard work will be needed once the employee is back at work to manage any health risks, with adequate controls being implemented. Adhering to government and the Health and Safety Executive guidance should be non-negotiable from the perspective of both the business and all employees when it comes to protecting individual well-being. Vigilance and flexibility in relation to control measures will be important to safeguard health, if the level of risk increases. The workplace is likely to feel and may look very different when employees return. It is important that clear guidance and training is provided on how to work safely and protect health.

Mental health should also be a factor that is considered as part of any risk assessment. This factor is multi-faceted. Some employees may need reassurance as they have concerns about their personal safety. Others may struggle to adapt when returning, particularly if the work regime feels unfamiliar. Deferring a return to work or making a request that homeworking is undertaken, may leave individuals feeling left behind and isolated. Employers have a legal duty to tackle work-related mental health issues; risks need to be assessed and controlled.

How will a phased return to work be managed?

Roles and skills will have been identified as necessary to support the initial recovery phase, while less business critical roles are likely to be kept under review as progress is made. Resuming some level of operation will be perceived as a positive step but there are potential legal risks that need to be addressed.

A phased return means that choices will have to be made about who returns, and from August whether this is on a full-time or part-time basis (if home working cannot continue), and who stays at home furloughed. Employment law still applies irrespective. To avoid any legal challenge, employers need to be transparent about the selection criteria adopted to bring people back to work while others remain at home. It is essential that this process is documented, and the audit trail must be capable of demonstrating that selection is fair, based legitimate business reasons and is not discriminatory.

Is business ready to be scrutinised?

The government’s focus is now on a transition period, with employers starting to take back responsibility for the cost of their workforce. In the absence of further detail, it is unclear if employers will be required to justify decisions made to retain employees on furlough until the end of October. Employers may be required to justify their decisions made about keeping employees on furlough throughout the extended period. The furlough scheme is not there to avoid dealing with problem employees. At some point concerns will have to be addressed.

The furlough scheme extension will continue to protect many jobs as the economy recovers. While waiting to learn more about the changes to the scheme from August, from an employment law and people management perspective employers should now start to sketch out the future for its operations and the workforce.

FG Solicitors are experts in all areas of Employment Law and HR, and we can slide your business through the business recover stages. Feel free to call us on 0808 1729 322 for a no obligation discussions.

This publication is for general guidance only. Advice should be taken in relation to a particular set of circumstances.

 

 

National Living Wage FAQs

When does it come into force?National Living Wage - FG Solicitors

1 April 2016.

How much is it?

£7.20 per hour.

Is there a small employer exemption?

No. All employers will be obliged to pay the National Living Wage.

Who does it apply to?

Workers aged 25 or over.

Where has this come from?

It falls under the National Minimum Wage legislation.

Is it the same as the Living Wage? 

No, organisations must pay workers the National Living Wage, but the Living Wage is voluntary, set by the Living Wage Foundation and calculated according to the basic cost of living in the UK.  The current UK Living Wage is £8.25 per hour and the current London Living Wage is £9.40 per hour.

What payments can be taken into account when deciding if the correct rate is being paid?

There are a number of elements of pay that can be taken into account. These include basic pay, bonus, commission, piecework and accommodation allowances.

Are pension payments made by the employer taken into account when deciding if the correct rate is being paid?

No.

What about tips?

Tips cannot be taken into account when calculating whether the correct rate has been paid to the worker. This is even if the tip is paid through the payroll system.

Is there an easy way of checking if I am paying the correct amount?

The Government has published an online calculator which can be used by employers and employees to determine whether the correct amount is being paid. This can be accessed at:

https://www.gov.uk/am-i-getting-minimum-wage

What happens if I fail to pay the correct amount from 1 April 2016?

The rates are enforced by the HMRC and those employers who fail to pay the correct rates will face financial penalties.

Contact Details

For more details about the National Living Wage please contact a member of our Employment Law team:

fgmedia@fgsolicitors.co.uk

+44 (0) 808 172 93 22

This update is for general guidance only and does not constitute definitive advice.

Fast & Furious!

And The Winner Is…

Ben Baxter from Altodigital Networks Ltd who achieved the fastest lap time of 10.52 seconds around the FGS Scalextric track, winning a bottle of bubbly and a free contract review!

All lap times are below:

Leaderboard

We hope that you enjoyed the event and we look forward to seeing you soon for our next FGS challenge!

Contact details:

fgmedia@fgsolicitors.co.uk

(0) 808 172 93 22

FGazette July 2015

FGazette NewsletterFor all the latest updates on government actions in regards to trade unions, employment tribunals with a focus on settlement agreements and engaging your workforce please follow the link in the image.

Please forward the FGazette to any of your colleagues and contacts to whom you feel it may be of benefit.

If you have any problems viewing this link, please contact us on 0808 172 93 22 or fgmedia@fgsolicitors.co.uk

FGazette April 2015

FGazette April 2015

Welcome the latest edition of the FGazette – we wish you a Happy Easter!

This latest edition of the FGazette is packed with key employment law updates and includes issues such as eliminating tribunal claims worry, considering whether individuals are employed or self-employed as well as performance management in the workplace.

Click on the image to read and please forward the FGazette to any of your colleagues and contacts to whom you feel it may be of benefit.

If you have any problems viewing this link, please contact us on 01604 871143 or fgmedia@fgsolicitors.co.uk

Social Media in the Workplace Seminar – 23rd April 2015

SOCIAL MEDIA

Date: Thursday 23rd April 2015

Time: 8am – 10am

Venue: FG Solicitors’ Offices

Cost: Free & breakfast provided

To book your place at our Social Media in the Workplace seminar, please contact us using the details below:

info@fgsolicitors.co.uk

+44 (0) 808 172 93 22

We look forward to hearing from you.

STOP PRESS: Updated Guidance on Fit Notes

Megaphone - Hot Off the Press (123rf ref 8981071)In the October 2014 edition of FGazette – the quarterly newsletter of FG Solicitors, we reported on the launch of the government’s new Health and Work Service. To read this article please click here.

The government has since published updated guidance for employers and line managers on what to do when given a fit note by an employee.

The guidance document takes you through the different sections of the fit note and how the notes can be used to help your business.

To view the document, please click on the link below:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/400128/fitnote-employers-line_managers-jan-2015.pdf

Data Protection – Do You Know Your Rights and Responsibilities?

Data Protection

  • Workers have the right to make a subject access request – do you know how to respond to this?
  • Do you understand the 8 principles under the Data Protection Act that everyone responsible for using data (including employers) has to follow?
  • How does the Data Protection Act affect an employer’s ability to monitor employee’s telephone calls and e-mails and use CCTV in the workplace?

To be up to speed on Data Protection refer to the latest edition of Tolley’s Employment Law, published by LexisNexis and updated by FG Solicitors.

Click below to see an extract from our chapter which includes information on monitoring at work:

Click here for Extract

Should you wish to purchase the latest issue, please click here:
http://www.lexisnexis.co.uk/store/uk/Tolleys-Employment-Law-Service/product

Contact us to discuss any data protection/employment law issues on info@fgsolicitors.co.uk

FGazette January 2015

FGazette January 2015Step 1 to a Happy and Prosperous New Year for your Business!

You may believe it’s too late to be making New Year’s resolutions; we at FG Solicitors do not think so.

This latest edition of the FGazette is packed with key employment law updates to enable you to kick-start achievable solutions for change within your business and identify the resources to help you accomplish them.

Click on the image to read and don’t limit your resolutions to January 1st!

If you have any problems viewing this link, please contact us on 01604 871143 or fgmedia@fgsolicitors.co.uk

FGazette October 2014

Welcome to the latest edition of FGazette! The quarterly newsletter of FG Solicitors – Lawyers for today’s employers.

With changes in the employment sphere showing no signs of slowing down as the date for a general election in May 2015 edges nearer we present the October edition of the FGazette.

This month’s edition looks at Data Subject Access Requests, Family Friendly Working Hours, Restrictive Covenants and also features a Q&A on the launch of the Government’s Health and Work Service.

If you have any problems viewing this link, please contact us on 01604 871143 or fgmedia@fgsolicitors.co.uk