Can You Use the KickStart Scheme?

The Kickstart Scheme was announced in July 2020 and is aimed at creating new high-quality jobs to help 16-24-year-old unemployed people on Universal Credit. The aim is to provide opportunities for young people to enter the workplace, especially as many of those in this age bracket may have lost their jobs as a result of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic.

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What is the Job Retention Bonus and How Can You Use it?

On 8 July 2020, the Chancellor announced a new Job Retention Bonus for employers who have used the Job Retention Scheme. You can receive a £1000 cash bonus for every furloughed employee provided that:

  • you bring the furloughed employee back to work and continue to employ them for the period of November 2020 to the end of January 2021; and
  • the employee earns a minimum of £520 average per month between November and January 2021.

Payments will be made from February 2021.

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Returning to Office Work or New Home Working Arrangements?

An article by Jenny Collis at Fit and Able

Do you have measures in place for supporting your employees who want to continue home working?

In March 2020, as lock down measures were enforced, home working became a sudden significant change in working life. Many employees had never worked from home before and had concerns over the physical and mental challenges home working brings. Many cobbled together a work station and embraced the new lifestyle. And a significant number have enjoyed the change. So as lock down restrictions are lifting, a number of employees are exploring the possibilities of longer term home working with their employer.

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Returning to Work?

Employers in England are being encouraged to reopen their workplaces to staff who cannot work from home, while those in other parts of the UK are likely to be making plans ahead of similar moves. The guidelines are changing on a weekly basis, but here are eight challenges that have been identified by XpertHR, that you might need to consider, regarding bringing your staff back and keeping them all safe.

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Right to Work Checks Changed Due to Coronavirus Outbreak

In light of the 2020 coronavirus outbreak, from 30 March 2020 as an employer you can adopt a revised process for checking right to work.

Government guidance confirms that a scanned copy or photograph of documents necessary to prove a right to work should be sent to you via an email or mobile app. A video call should then be arranged with the worker, where they should be asked to present their original documents to the camera. These documents should then be compared with the digital versions previously sent. The date of this check should be recorded and noted as “adjusted check undertaken on [insert date] due to COVID-19”.

If a prospective employee cannot produce any of the prescribed documents, you should consult the Home Office Employer Checking Service.

When the coronavirus crisis ends, the date of which is currently unknown, a retrospective check should be carried out on employees who started working for your company, or required a follow-up check, during these measures. This check will need to be carried out within eight weeks of the crisis ending and be marked “the individual’s contract commenced on [insert date]. The prescribed right to work check was undertaken on [insert date] due to COVID-19.”

If during the retrospective check you find that the employee does not have the right to work in the UK, they should be dismissed immediately.

For organisations that have been deemed an essential business, a usual check can still be conducted, however the validity of documents check can be done via video link provided you have the original documents.

If an employee has a Biometric Residence Permit or has been granted ‘settled status’ under the EU Settlement Scheme, they can give you permission to check their details online.

If there are any other particular questions you have about these changes that you would like to discuss, please call me on 0118 940 3032 or click here to email me.

Statutory Sick Pay and Coronavirus (COVID-19)

On 4 March 2020, the Prime Minister announced in Parliament that the Government will introduce, as part of its emergency coronavirus legislation, measures to allow statutory sick pay to be paid from the first day of sickness, rather than after three waiting days. The Government intends to apply this measure retrospectively from 13 March 2020.

The Government announced further measures in the Budget 2020 on 11 March 2020, namely that:

  • entitlement to statutory sick pay will temporarily extend to those who:
    • are unable to work because they have been advised to self-isolate, even if they do not have symptoms in effect from 13 March 2020 or
    • are caring for others in the same household who are displaying coronavirus symptoms and have been told to self-isolate
  • employers with fewer than 250 employees on 28 February 2020 will be refunded two weeks’ eligible statutory sick pay costs related to coronavirus, per employee
  • employers will have to keep sickness records but employees should not be required to provide a fit note
  • the Government will introduce an alternative to the fit note, whereby employees who are advised to self-isolate will be able to get a notification from NHS 111 that can be used as evidence for their absence during the coronavirus outbreak
  • the Government will set up a process for repaying statutory sick pay as soon as possible.

Evidence of Sickness

Current government guidance is that, to prevent the spread of coronavirus, individuals with flu-like symptoms should obtain medical advice from NHS 111 online and should not go to see their GP.

Most sickness absence policies allow for employees to self-certify absences of up to seven days. Where an employee who is absent for more than seven days advises that they have flu-like symptoms, the employer will need to make an exception to its normal requirement for medical evidence. Nevertheless, the employer should take all reasonable steps to verify the sickness absence. This could include requiring the employee to make regular telephone contact, and requiring the employee to explain what medical advice they have sought and followed. The employee could be asked to provide evidence where possible, but employers should act reasonably in what they require from employees in the circumstances.

In the Budget 2020, on 11 March 2020, the Chancellor announced that employees who are advised to self-isolate to prevent the spread of coronavirus will ‘soon’ be able to obtain an alternative to the fit note from the NHS 111 service.

For the purposes of determining eligibility for statutory sick pay, employers are able to set their own rules on what evidence they reasonably require of employees’ illness. Legislation does not require that the evidence is in the form of a fit note.

Rate of Statutory Sick Pay

When in force, the Social Security Benefits Up-rating Order 2020 (still in draft form) will increase the weekly rate of statutory sick pay from £94.25 to £95.85 from 6 April 2020. The lower earnings limit for national insurance purposes will increase from £118 to £120 per week from 6 April 2020.

Qualifying days are days on which the employee would usually be required to work. Employers and employees can agree between themselves what days should be qualifying days, as long as each week has at least one qualifying day. Qualifying days should not be defined by reference to the days on which the employee has been sick. 

Many employers define qualifying days as the same days the employee is expected to perform work under the contract of employment. Then the first three normal working days of sickness are qualifying days, but they do not attract payment of statutory sick pay.

If you need advice any further advice regarding your staff and Statutory Sick Pay, please do get in touch. Call me on 0118 940 3032 or click here to email me.