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.
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 November 2020 Employer's COVID checklist, click here.
For our February 2021 article: Can employers penalise workers for refusing to have a Covid vaccination? click here.
Contact us for advice on employee relations issues arising from the crisis.
In the new National Lockdown from 6 January 2021, workers may only leave their home for work if they cannot reasonably work from home. Those who are clinically extremely vulnerable should not attend work. See the guidance here.
For guidance on shielding and protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19, click here.
If employees must work from the business premises, the employer should be keeping a record of who is coming into work and the reasons why.
On 31 October, the government announced the extension of the Job Retention Scheme which was due to end on 31 October. Originally, the extension was to 31 March 2021 but, on 17 December, the Chancellor announced that it would be extended instead to the end of April 2021. The support under the scheme returns to the levels available in August 2020, with the government paying 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 and employers paying employer National Insurance Contributions (NICs) and pension contributions only. On 17 December, it was also announced that there will be no increase to the employer furlough wage contribution.
Neither the employer nor the employee needs to have previously used the CJRS. Employees must be on the employer’s PAYE payroll by 23:59 on 30th October 2020.
Employees on the scheme can be working part time in which case the payments will relate to the part of their working hours which they are not working.
The guidance now says that: Employees can be furloughed, if they are unable to work, including from home or working reduced hours because they:
The government has updated its guidance on the scheme. This now says that employers CANNOT claim for employees serving contractual or statutory notice periods for claim periods starting on or after 1 December 2020.
HMRC is now publishing employer names who have made claims under the scheme for the month of December onwards. This is available here.
For an overview, click here. For more detailed information, click here and here.
A new Treasury Direction on the CJRS is here.
The onus is on the employer to notify HMRC if they have overclaimed COVID-19 grants. The promised one-off payment to employers of £1,000 for each furloughed employee who is still employed as of 31 January 2021 will not now be paid.
"The Furlough template was excellent, thank you. Thanks also for the holiday info on your website."
Is your business ready for the end of the furlough scheme? If you will need to make changes to terms and conditions of employment or make redundancies, contact us for expert advice and guidance.
The new Job Support Scheme which was due to start on 1 November has been postponed because of the extension of the CJRS. For details, click here.
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.
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.
The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Self-Isolation) (England) Regulations 2020 came in on 28 September.
Where an adult is notified, after 28th September 2020, that they have tested positive for COVID-19 or they have been notified that they have come into close contact with someone who has tested positive, they must self-isolate.
They must then tell their employer that they are self-isolating as soon as reasonably practical, unless they can work at the place they are self isolating (usually their home). They must also tell their employer the start and end date of the isolation period. It is a criminal offence for the employee to fail to do this.
If an employer knows a worker has tested positive (or lives with someone who has tested positive), it is must stop the worker from working (unless they can work from home). Any employer who knowingly fails to do so will face criminal prosecution and can be fined a minimum of £1,000.
These rules only apply in England. Businesses in England need to ensure they educate their employees and managers on these new rules and put in place appropriate notification procedures. Employers also need to consider the data protection implications of handling sensitive data about employees’ health.
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.
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 became 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 can decide what they do about paying company sick pay.
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.
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.
The Employment Tribunal service has issued a Q&A document about handling employment tribunal claims during the coronavirus crisis. Access it here.
There are also new guidelines on remote employment tribunal hearings here.
For ACAS guidance, click here.
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.
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
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.
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.
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