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Specialist Employment Law Solicitors in Abingdon
For Oxford, Oxfordshire, Berkshire, London & the Thames Valley

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Welcome to Employment Law Plus

understanding your needs
being straight with you
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Specialist Employment Law Solicitors Founded in 2006

Why compromise on anything less?

A fresh approach to legal services - based on understanding your needs, being straight with you and giving down to earth advice. We give practical, commercial support.

Jill Kelly, Director, is a specialist workplace law Solicitor who has over 20 years experience advising businesses and individuals.


Coronavirus

Links
See ACAS Guide for employers and employees here.
See NHS guidance here.
See Public Health England guidance here.
See government guidance for employers and businesses on coronavirus here.
See government guidance support for businesses here and here.
See government guidance on coronavirus job retention scheme click here.
See government guidance on apprenticeships here
See government guidance for employees here.
See guidance for users of courts and tribunals here.
For our 27 April 2020 Employer's Newsletter on COVID -19 and the workplace, click here.
For our 1 June 2020 Employer's Newsletter on COVID -19 and the workplace, click here.


Contact us for advice on employee relations issues arising from the crisis.


Redundancies and the COVID-19 crisis

The Government has announced that employees who were furloughed and then made redundant will not lose out financially in their redundancy package because of the reduction in their pay due to furlough. Instead, their statutory redundancy payments and notice payments must be based on their normal wages. For more information, click here.

Employers must not forget that usual protections for unfair dismissal and discrimination will apply to redundancies. For collective redundancies, there are also requirements to inform and consult with employee representatives. We can give detailed advice on handling redundancies in a lawful way.

ACAS has updated its guidance on making redundancies to include furlough issues here.


Test and Trace workplace guidance

Employers should have in place back to work policies which include the implications of the NHS Test and Trace system in the workplace. The Government has issued guidance here. We can help employers think this through and amend policies and privacy notices.



Health and safety planning in the COVID-19 environment

Whether a business currently has employees at work or whether all employees are furloughed, businesses should be drawing up a Covid-19 risk assessment with consultation with employees.

The Government has published industry specific health and safety guidance for employers here.


Government job retention scheme now extended and amended

Until August when the scheme gets less generous, HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month plus associated NIC and pension costs. However, except for those returning from family friendly leave, if an employer has not placed a particular employee on furlough already, it is now too late.

The scheme has been extended to 31 October 2020. From 1 July, furloughed employees can be brought back part-time. Flexible furlough arrangements, IE part-time working, must be agreed in writing, and the employer must keep records of how many hours the employee works and how many hours they are on furlough. Also from 1 July, furlough periods need no longer be a minimum of 3 weeks - only a week will be OK. From 1 July, employers will have to make a separate furlough claim to HMRC for each calendar month. But, the government wage subsidy will be tapered off from 1 August, with employers having to make increased contributions. For further information, click here.

For information on changes to the furlough scheme, click here.

The Chancellor has announced a further measure. Employers receive a one-off payment of £1,000 for each furloughed employee who is still employed as of 31 January 2021. To qualify for the payment, the employee must be paid at least £520 on average in each month from November to January. Payments will be made from February 2021 and further details on this scheme will be announced by the end of July.

The onus is on the employer to notify HMRC if they have overclaimed COVID-19 grants. The latest date to do this is 90 days after the date the employer received the grant they were not entitled to or 20 October 2020.

Holiday will continue to accrue during furlough. For more on holiday issues, see below.

Employers need to think about what is going to happen at the end of the furlough scheme, or earlier when they will be required to make a financial contribution to furloughed staff costs. Employers may find themselves in the position that they need to make redundancies. They may not be able to afford to pay notice to employees at that point, so they may need to start consulting about redundancy now, and potentially serve notice. If employers have more than 19 employees at one establishment who are at risk of redundancy, they must collectively consult about the redundancies and the must delay the dismissal for at least 30/45 days depending on the number of employees affected. Given this time period, affected employers need to start making plans and taking steps now if they want to be in a position to dismiss for redundancy at the end of the furlough scheme.

The government has provided a third version of its Direction to HMRC about the CJRS with important information about the scheme. See this here

HMRC has published a guide to working out 80% of an employee’s wages for the purpose of claiming under the CJRS here.

It has also published a step by step guide to making a claim under the CJRS here.

See government guidance for employees here.

"The Furlough template was excellent, thank you. Thanks also for the holiday info on your website."

Statutory sick pay

On 13 March 2020, statutory sick pay became payable to those who self-isolate in accordance with public health guidance on coronavirus. Further, when this happens, SSP is payable for the first three qualifying or "waiting" days. The government changed the rules on this on 28 March. The new Regulations backdate the right to SSP for the first three qualifying or "waiting" days to 13 March. (The Statutory Sick Pay (Coronavirus) (Suspension of Waiting Days and General Amendment) Regulations 2020). The funding is available to employers with fewer than 250 employees and would be limited to two weeks’ SSP per eligible employee.

From 16 April, those people who are shielding become entitled to SSP payments. Shielding means they are classed as extremely vulnerable and at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus and are advised to remain home for at least 12 weeks. (The Statutory Sick Pay (General) Coronavirus Amendment) )No 3) Regulations 2020). Note: Anyone who is furloughed is not entitled to SSP.

Entitlement to statutory sick pay was further extended on 28 May to people who have been told to isolate under the new 'Test and Trace' system. (See The Statutory Sick Pay (General) (Coronavirus Amendment) (No. 4) Regulations 2020.)

Click here for more information.

Employers will need to decide what they do about paying company sick pay. There does not seem to be a need to copy the relaxed SSP rules.


New rules on holiday

On 27 March, the government brought in new rules about the carry forward of holiday into the next holiday year because of coronavirus. Workers will now be able to carry forward holiday entitlement from their basic 4 week holiday entitlement if they could not take it because of the effects of coronavirus. The holiday can be carried forward for up to two leave years. This does not apply to the additional 8 days paid holiday entitlement which employees usually take on statutory holidays, nor to any additional contractual holiday entitlement.

The Regulations say that these new provisions apply where it was not reasonably practicable for a worker to take some or all of their 4 week holiday entitlement as a result of the effects of coronavirus, including on the worker, the employer or the wider economy or society. The government describes these measures as giving employers flexibility to allow workers to carry over leave at a time when granting annual leave could leave them short-staffed and so that work can continue in the national effort against the coronavirus. See here.

The Government has issued guidance on holiday and holiday pay issues during the coronavirus crisis, including where employees are furloughed. You an find the guidance here. This guidance is not legally binding and it will be up to Employment Tribunals to apply the law to the current circumstances if claims relating to holiday are brought.


Emergency volunteering leave

Employees can now become an emergency volunteer in health or social care. Once certified by the appropriate authority to be a volunteer, they can require their employer to give them time off work. The time off must be taken in 2, 3 or 4 consecutive weeks in a 16 week period. Three days notice must be given to the employer.

Employees will have the right to return to their job at the end of their volunteering period. They have the right not to be subjected to a detriment because they volunteered and it will be automatically unfair dismissal to dismiss someone for volunteering (and two years' service is not needed to bring the claim.)

Employees will not be entitled to their pay from employers while they are volunteering, but will be paid by the government instead.


Tax-Free Childcare and 30 hours free childcare during coronavirus

There have been temporary changes to the eligibility criteria for Tax-Free Childcare and 30 hours free childcare, during coronavirus. For more information, click here.


IR35

The government has announced the postponement of the IR35 changes due to come in from 6 April 2020 by 12 months, due to covid-19.


Employment tribunal claims and hearings

From Monday 23 March 2020 all hearings where the parties are expected to be in attendance at a tribunal hearing centre will be converted to by telephone case management discussions. This means that all final hearings will be postponed and the telephone hearing will be to discuss with the parties what arrangements to make for rearranging the hearing. This will include any hearing which is already in progress on 23 March.

The Employment Tribunal service has issued a Q&A document about handling employment tribunal claims during the coronavirus crisis. Access it here.


Guidance on handling disciplinaries and grievances during the COVID crisis

For ACAS guidance, click here.


Working from home

WFH arrangements are an obvious way to mitigate covid-19 risks where they are possible. But don't forget about WFH implications: Does the employee have appropriate arrangements for keeping Company information secure and confidential at home? There are health and safety implications. What are the rules on using company property at home? What are the supervision arrangements? For guidance on home working from the National Cyber Security Centre click here.


Testimonials

"Thanks a million for all your help. I cannot recommend your services any higher. You have been fantastic. The service you provided has been faultless with exceptional responsiveness, understanding, support, insight and professionalism. I have no hesitations in recommending your services and will happily do so when the need arises."


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Specialist Employment Law Solicitors

Jill Kelly is again recommended in the new Chambers Legal Directory which says:

Sources describe Jill Kelly of Employment Law Plus as "very knowledgeable, communicative and supportive." She has a comprehensive practice which spans disputes of all kinds as well as reorganisations, pay, terms and conditions, and day-to-day issues.


More about Jill Kelly


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Why compromise on anything less?

We are all about quality not quantity. You will not be passed to a more junior and inexperienced solicitor. We are unique in offering the 20 years plus expertise and experience of Director solicitor, Jill Kelly, to ALL our clients in Oxford, Didcot, Abingdon, Newbury and elsewhere.

We are fully authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority with professional indemnity insurance cover.

Regulation



Solicitors based in Abingdon, Oxford, near Didcot and Newbury, we give advice by phone and email or, for meetings, we are easily accessible from Oxford, Reading, Newbury, Swindon, Didcot and Banbury. We can advise on settlement agreements by email.


“Thank you for everything. You were responsive, rapid, insightful and available. You were a great and reassuring support. Thank you once again so very much.”


“I would like to thank you for the advice and service and I will certainly recommend you to anyone in the same or similar situations. I'm not sure how you could have been more friendly.”


“I was very happy with your professionalism, and always felt like you were seeking my best interest. Thank you for that. I will be happy to refer you should the opportunity to come up to do this. Thank you!”


“Many thanks for all your help, it made a huge difference to the outcome, and to what I can do in the future.”


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South Oxon HR Forum

At our February 2020 meeting, we had a presentation by Richardsons Chartered Accountants on the new IR35 rules as well as an interactive session on Happy Healthy Conflict: How to have difficult conversations at work by Melanie Greene , Occupational Psychologist . To access the slides, click here. NB Due to covid-19, it has been announced that the new IR35 rules are delayed by 12 months to 6 April 2021.


News


Key workplace law changes:



  • For coronavirus workplace developments, click here.

  • HMRC has identified low take-up of the Tax-Free Childcare scheme. Under the scheme, relief is 20% of the costs of childcare, up to total childcare costs of £10,000 per child per year. To qualify, all parents in the household must generally meet a minimum income level, based on working 16 hours a week (on average £131 a week) and each earn less than £100,000 a year and not already be receiving support through Tax Credits or Universal Credit.

  • From 6 April 2020, employees who lose a child under the age of 18 have the right to two weeks' leave with bereavement pay. This includes an employee who suffers a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy. The leave must be taken in one block or as two separate blocks of a week. The leave will be paid for employees who have at least 26 weeks’ service and who meet minimum earnings criteria. Statutory parental bereavement pay will be paid at the same rate as statutory paternity pay, i.e. £151.20 per week (from April 2020) or 90% of weekly earnings if lower.

  • The Government has introduced various laws aimed at supporting non standard workers and workers generally. From April 2020, all workers have the right to a written statement of employment particulars from the first day they start work. The scope of work particulars which must be provided is being increased so there is more information on hours of work and rights to paid leave, plus new information on any probationary period, training entitlements and any benefits available.

  • From 6 April 2020, employees with non standard working hours have their holiday pay calculated by averaging what they earned in the 52 weeks before the holiday, instead of the 12 weeks.

  • From 6 April 2020, the so called “Swedish derogation” is repealed. It excludes agency workers from the right to the same pay as directly recruited workers if they have a contract of employment with the agency.

  • From 6 April 2020, all employment termination payments above £30,000 are subject to employer's NIC.

  • Taxation arrangements for off-payroll working rules are changing for services. The change was due to come in from after 6 April 2020 but has been delayed by 12 months due to covid-19 . This affects services provided by contractors through personal service companies, although there is an exemption to the changes where the end client is a small business. Larger businesses getting services from such companies, will become responsible for assessing whether the contractor must be viewed as their employee for tax purposes. For more information click here

  • From 6 April 2020, it becomes easier for employees to begin negotiations for an information and consultation arrangement with their employer under the "ICE Regulations". This affects organisations with at least 50 employees. Instead of needing 10% of the workforce to request the negotiations, only 2% of employees will need to make the request. However, there will still be a requirement for at least 15 employees to make the request.

  • In the Queen's Speech in December 2019, the Government announced various new employment laws including: The right for workers to request a more stable contract; Extended redundancy protections to prevent pregnancy and maternity discrimination; Extended leave for neonatal care; One week's additional leave for unpaid carers; Flexible working by default, unless employers have a good reason not to allow this.

  • The Government has published guidance for employers on addressing gender pay gaps: 'Eight ways to understand your gender pay gap' and 'Four steps to developing a gender pay gap action plan'.

  • The Government has published 'Protecting and Enhancing Worker Rights after the UK Withdrawal from the European Union' to put into effect its commitment "not to reduce the standards of workers' rights from EU law retained in UK law'.

  • The European court has decided that employers must keep records of hours worked by their workers in order to meet their obligations under the Working Time Directive. The Working Time Regulations do not require employers to do this, so they are going to have to be changed to introduce this obligation, which is new for businesses and may involve changes for their business practices.

  • Employers who need to support employees who are pregnant or have recently returned to work after giving birth will find Guidance from the TUC and the charity, Maternity Action, helpful, called 'Pregnancy, Breastfeeding and Health and Safety" Click here to access.

  • Commons Select Committee says Government must end cover-up culture over discrimination and harassment cases Click here for more details. It has also proposed radical changes to the way in which rights under the Equality Act 2010 are enforced. It says the burden of enforcement should shift from individuals to the Equality and Human Rights Commission Click here for more details. Related to this is new guidance on non disclosure agreements issued by the Law Society. Find it here




Employment Law Plus

Settlement agreements and compromise agreements, grievances, age discrimination, employment tribunal claims and defences, disciplinaries, redundancy, unfair dismissal, maternity rights, race discrimination, employment contracts, victimisation, disability discrimination and adjustments, transfers of undertakings, sex discrimination, policies and procedures, sexual orientation discrimination, pay problems, working time and holiday entitlements, equal pay, restrictive covenants, Equality Act... Employment solicitors Abingdon. Employment solicitor Didcot. Employment law solicitor Oxford and Oxfordshire.


Employment Law Plus (UK) Limited, trading as Employment Law Plus, is registered in England and Wales under company number 07406653 at Stepstone House, Old Moor, Milton, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, OX14 4ED. Director: Jill Kelly. Authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority number 551415. Employment solicitors Abingdon. Employment solicitor Didcot. Employment law solicitor Oxford and Oxfordshire. Disability discrimination, sex discrimination, unfair dismissal, compromise agreement, settlement agreements


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