HR bits & bytes (July) – taking the headache out of managing employees.

Vaccinations – enforceable or not?

Conversations around vaccinations seem set to continue over the coming months, however we now have an interesting nuance that’s been added to list around whether companies should or should not be able to enforce the rule that everyone must be vaccinated; with things still in consultation at the moment, the jury is still out but we thought it might be useful to remind you of your current and only obligation, which is to ensure you have a Covid secure workplace, in line with government and HSE guidelines , it’s also worth noting that not all the points will be relevant to each industry or business, it’s only those that apply to you, you don’t need to do everything.

** HOT OFF THE PRESS**  The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has announced today that people working in CQC-registered care homes will need to be fully Covid-19 vaccinated, with both doses, as a condition of deployment.  We are awaiting further details and will send out any actions for those affected as soon as we have more detail.

What should I consider in terms of Hybrid & flexible working?

Considerations for flexible working requests should be fair and reasonable, and yes you are obliged to consider all requests after 6 months service and in light of the last 18 months. If you’re having trouble deciding legitimately, if a role is able to continue in a working from home capacity, try asking these questions when deciding the future of a role.

  • Is it a suitable role that can be done from home and or the office?
  • How will the time be split and what is reasonable for what you want or need to achieve as a business?
  • Do any other parties need to be included in the conversation ie colleagues or departments in terms of collaboration or project deliverables. There’s little point in agreeing it can continue 100% of the time, if you require collaboration and attendance of key people at a weekly meeting.
  • What percentage of the role can be undertaken away from the office/work location?
  • Just because they have been doing it, isn’t reason enough to make it a permanent move. What’s right for your business?
  • Are you intending to, or will you need to make hybrid working a change to terms and conditions of employment?
  • How will you monitor output and performance, as well as sickness and absence, don’t wait until someone challenges this before you decide, ensure this is clear and communicated early.

As working from home is a non-contractual discretionary aspect which does not form part of the actual contract, you are able to decide what suits the business and your teams and clearly communicate this out.  As a result of these conversations, it may be a good time to consider introducing or formalising the current Hybrid working guidelines, for both the business and your employees.

This is an opportune time to strengthen your contracts and supporting documentation for the future.  As a starting point, consider what you want your business to look like and take the opportunity to future proof the business in respect of what you want your business to look like going forward, and then work your contracts and supporting working practices around this.

To reduce or not to reduce – Salary reductions for those working from home.

Speaking to our clients, we know that a number are still looking to reduce costs and reserve cash right now, many are still thinking of other ways to conserve much needed cash, so it makes sense that a question we have been asked has been around reducing salary in exchange for flexibility, the “can I reduce salary costs for those who are now working from home”,  In short, we wouldn’t advise this route for 2 reasons:

  • It’s not as simple as just changing it, pay and conditions are a contractual obligation between you and the employee, you do need consent to change anything relating to pay and conditions, this requires time and planning to ensure you have shown due process.
  • Any pay issues are likely to become contentious, way up employee engagement v’s potential leavers!

So, are there any alternatives?

Yes, you could go for a pay freeze or limit some of the non-contractual pay, such as bonuses and other rewards.  Our advice would be to consider any changes against the backdrop of engagement and retention, at a time when recruitment and retention will wax and wane, retention of key employees will be huge, any decisions you make should be from a more longer-term viewpoint.

If you would like some help or advice on changing any of your employment paperwork or what options you can take, then please get in touch.

Other discussions this month.

Cyber risk climbs by a whopping 400% for SMEs.

Cyber risks for SME’s have gone up by a staggering 400% as a result of the pandemic, with criminals finding new and interesting ways to get it our systems, but what do you need to think about in terms of your employees and working from home?

  • GDPR – in order to protect your data and reduce potential fines under ICO and GDPR regulations, your responsibility as a business owner is to ensure you train your teams on their roles and responsibilities.
  • For insurance, and more importantly company reputation, check you have the right policies, that will protect you if things unfortunately take a turn in the wrong direction.
    • Action: Check your policies on Confidentiality and Working from home and those link to GDPR Employee Privacy and Data protection polices when handling data on the company and its clients.

*Data courtesy of the SMEClub

Finally, a few quick reminders.

What to do if you or someone you employ is contacted by NHS Test and Trace, including self-isolation, sick pay and financial support. NHS Test and Trace in the workplace – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Updated rules on self isolation for employees and employers If you need to self-isolate or cannot attend work due to coronavirus – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

The 1st July marks the change in how you Employ EU citizens in the UK,

Employers will need to check the right to work in the UK for all EU, EEA and Swiss citizens. You can do this online, using a share code which the individual should have obtained via the Government website here, along with the individual’s date of birth.

Where employees do not comply

Where you employed one of these citizens before 31 December 2020 and they haven’t obtained a share code by 30 June 2021 then it is not yet clear what action you will need to take. Further guidance is awaited from the Government.

Useful link – View a job applicant’s right to work details

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