The Coronavirus is providing complex challenges for employers up and down the country who, as they work to navigate through the storm, face rapidly evolving legislation and initiatives, many of which are not straightforward. Here, HR and employment law specialist LexLeyton, sets out the key points that employers should be aware of to help them manage and support their staff during this difficult period.
Firstly, it is important to have a reliable core team undertaking business continuity plans. This teams needs to communicate regularly, continuously assessing the situation, and decide when to implement appropriate operational changes for the business and utilise Government incentives. This is crucial for all companies to help them adapt to this new reality over the coming months. Employers should explore all avenues available to them before committing to any one direction.
The Government has introduced several schemes to support businesses and employees through the crisis, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Under this scheme, any furloughed workers (who remain employed but cannot work) will have 80% of their wages paid by the Government up to £2,500 per month, backdated to the start of March. The first payments under this scheme should be available around the end of April.
Employers should carefully consider what level of staffing they require to get through to the first payment in order to minimise the damage to their employees and business. There are several options available to support cashflow during this period, including asking employees to use annual leave and requesting for employers to reduce their hours. Employers can also force employees to take holidays, but this typically requires at least two weeks of advance notice.
Voluntary reductions in working hours by employees can significantly reduce initial costs. However, if a business needs to take further action, there are other measures to consider, including reducing employees’ hours or redeploying them to other parts of the business to ensure that staff are being used as efficiently as possible. Where possible, dismissals and redundancies should be a last resort, especially given the support offered by the new scheme.
This is a really difficult time for employers who are doing their best to protect employees whilst trying to ensure that their businesses makes it through this period. It is crucial that businesses communicate effectively and sympathetically with employees at this time. By taking the right steps during this challenging period, employers can better weather the storm of coronavirus and support their employees in the process.
LexLeyton, is the associated legal business of Leyton UK, they have created online fully comprehensive Coronavirus FAQs for Employers. Updated daily, the FAQs cover a wide range issues including guidance for employers on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and SSP. Please access these at https://lexleyton.co.uk/covid-19/ or contact the team for support and advice on 0141 483 5694 or firstname.lastname@example.org