News & Updates

Broadcast October 2020

This month our Group HR Manager, Ben Crawford, covers what we know about the new Job Support Scheme and other initiatives the government has announced in order to protect jobs.

Then Paul Kent, Senior Health & Safety Advisor, details which businesses should be using the Test and Trace service, and what the exemptions are.

And finally, Faye Bevington, our Training Manager, discusses the ways in which first aid treatment should be administered during the pandemic.

As ever, should you have any questions surrounding any of the issues raised, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 01427 678 660 or email admin@skaltd.co.uk , and one of the team will be happy to help.

HR UPDATE: The new government Job Support Scheme

Last week, the Chancellor gave a speech in Parliament to announce the Government’s support for employers and employees over the winter period.

Rishi Sunak confirmed that the Furlough scheme will indeed end on 31st October as previously announced. In its place he announced the Job Support Scheme (JSS). The JSS will help to support those in viable jobs who have suffered depressed demand and will support those employees who are working shorter hours. 

To qualify for the JSS employees must be working at least 1/3 of their normal hours and their employers should pay the individual hours. The government will then pay up to 1/3 of the hours not worked and the employer will have to pay 1/3 of the hours not worked, meaning employees will receive at least 77% of their usual full pay. So, for example for someone on £2,000 a month working half their hours, they’d get £1,000 plus £333 extra from their employer and £333 from the government. The level of grant will be calculated based on the employee’s usual salary, capped at £697.92 per month. 

All small and medium businesses will be eligible for the scheme. Larger employers will be able to claim through the scheme if they can show decline in revenues due to the effects of Coronavirus, and further information will be released on this. 

Prior to the 1st November, if companies are looking to get people to move onto the short time working and Job Support Scheme, they need to have the conversation with the employees and then seek their agreement. We are still awaiting further guidance, but some extra information that has come out is as follows:

  • Large businesses will have to meet a financial assessment test in order to qualify for the scheme 
  • Large employers will not be making capital distributions, such as dividend payments or share buybacks whilst accessing the grant
  • Employees must have been on the PAYE on or before 23rd September. 
  • For the first three months, employees must be working at least 33% of their normal working hours, after this three month period, the government will consider whether to increase this threshold 
  • Employees will be able to go on and off the scheme and do not have to work the same working pattern each month, but each short time working arrangement must cover a minimum seven day period 
  • Government contribution capped at £697.92 a month
  • Grants to be paid in arrears and will not cover NICs or pension contributions and these will remain payable by the business 
  • Employees cannot be made redundant or put on notice during the period where the employer is claiming the grant for that employee 

The scheme will start from 1st November and will run for 6 months. Companies will be able to claim through the Job Support Scheme and also the Job Retention Bonus. 

The Chancellor announced further support for businesses and set out four ways in which this could be done:

  1. Bounce back loans – the chancellor announced a ‘Pay as you grow’ scheme with loans to be extended by between 6-10 years. Interest only payments will be allowed, and businesses will be able to suspend repayments for up to 6 months. 
  2. Other loans scheme such as the Coronavirus Business Interruption loans – the government have extended the government guarantee for up to 10 years. The deadline for these loans has been extended until the end of the year. 
  3. More flexibility on tax bill payments – Companies will be allowed to spread VAT over 11 smaller payments rather than 1 large payment and this will be interest free. 
  4. Hospitality and Tourism – VAT was due to increase back to 20% for businesses in this area, however this will now remain at 5% until 31st March 2021.

We have produced a ‘Seeking the agreement of employees to enter the job support scheme’ template letter, which is free to download from the Back in Business page on our website.

If you need further advice, contact your Advisor as usual or call HR on 01427 678 660 and one of the team will be happy to help.

TRAINING UPDATE: Delivering First Aid during the pandemic

As with many things, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the way first aid is delivered has had to change in order to help keep people safe.

To help, we have detailed the changes below, or you can download the PDF to print off.


  • Ensure the safety of yourself, your casualty and any bystanders
  • Check for a response by gently shaking the shoulders and asking if they are alright. Check the casualty for signs of normal breathing. Do not place your face next to the casualty’s to look, listen and feel as per the usual sequence

If the casualty is not breathing normally:

  • Call for an ambulance (999/112)
  • Ask a bystander to call 999/112, or if none are available, call (999/112) yourself, staying with the casualty if possible
  • Activate the speaker function on the phone to aid communication with the ambulance service
  • Send someone to get an AED if one is available; do not leave the casualty to get one yourself unless it is in the immediate vicinity
  • Place a cloth/towel (or face mask/pocket mask with a valve filter and an elastic band to keep in place, if available) over the casualty’s mouth and nose before performing chest compressions or using an AED
  • Cover the casualty’s mouth and nose before performing chest compressions and using an AED to minimise the risk of airborne transmission during CPR

The following can be used:

  • A cloth/towel
  • A face mask
  • A pocket mask with a valve filter and an elastic band to keep in place


  • Encourage the casualty to face away from you whilst you put on your PPE
  • Encourage the casualty to cough to dislodge or remove the object themselves where possible if they are able to, do nothing else
  • If the casualty becomes weak or shows signs of stopping breathing or coughing, perform up to five back blows, checking after each one
  • Perform up to five abdominal thrusts
  • Repeat Sequence
  • If breathing ceases, begin CPR
  • Call 999/112 for emergency help in all but minor cases

Recovery position

  • Remove any glasses or goggles and place them somewhere away from the casualty
  • Kneel beside the casualty and make sure that both legs are straight, with feet together
  • Place the arm nearest to you out at right angles to their body, elbow bent with the hand palm–up
  • Bring the far arm across the chest, and hold the back of the hand against the casualty’s cheek nearest to you
  • With your other hand, grasp the far leg just above the knee and pull it up, keeping the foot on the ground
  • Keeping their hand pressed against their cheek, use their far leg to lever and pull the casualty towards you and on to their side
  • Make sure they are in a stable position and are not likely to roll back
  • Call (999/112) or get someone to call on your behalf.
  • Monitor and be prepared to commence CPR if required

Wounds and Bleeding

  • If the wound is minor and the casualty can treat themselves, this should be encouraged
  • Wear PPE
  • Lay or sit the casualty down in a comfortable position
  • Call 999/112 for emergency help in all but minor cases
  • Examine the wound and check for foreign objects
  • Apply direct pressure to the wound preferably using a sterile dressing or if no dressings are available then use your (or the casualty’s) fingers or hand
  • Treat the casualty for shock
  • Dispose of PPE and soiled dressings safely in a biohazard bin

Despite the pandemic, it is vitally important that you ensure that all of your training is up to date, not just First Aid. Our Training Team is now delivering its regular courses again, albeit now in a variety of formats – e-learning, Virtual Classrooms and socially-distanced classroom learning, so please get in touch on 01427 678 660 or email training@skaltd.co.uk to discuss your requirements.

H&S UPDATE: The new Test and Trace laws – who should do what? 

From Thursday 24 September, many businesses must now, by law, take the contact details of its customers, in order for them to be contacted should someone there at the same time test positive for COVID-19. The aim is to help reduce the spread of the virus.

Which businesses must use the test and trace service?
There is a higher risk of transmitting COVID-19 in premises where customers and visitors spend a longer time in one place and potentially come into close contact with other people outside of their household. 

To manage this risk, establishments in the following sectors, whether indoor or outdoor venues or mobile settings, must request contact details from staff, customers and visitors, and display the official NHS QR code poster:


  • restaurants, including restaurants and dining rooms in hotels or members’ clubs
  • cafes, including workplace canteens
  • bars, including bars in hotels or members’ clubs
  • public houses

Leisure and tourism:

  • amusement arcades
  • art fairs
  • betting and bingo halls
  • casinos
  • clubs providing team sporting activities
  • facilities for use by elite and professional sportspeople (including sports stadia)
  • heritage locations and attractions open to the public (including castles, stately homes and other historic houses)
  • hotels and other guest accommodation provided on a commercial basis, including in bed and breakfast accommodation, boats, campsites, caravans, chalets, guest houses, holiday parks, hostels, motels, pubs, sleeper trains and yurts
  • indoor sport and leisure centres
  • outdoor swimming pools and lidos
  • museums and galleries
  • music recording studios open for public hire or other public use
  • public libraries

Close contact services:

  • barbers
  • beauticians (including those providing cosmetic, aesthetic and wellness treatments)
  • dress fitters, tailors and fashion designers
  • hairdressers
  • nail bars and salons
  • skin and body piercing services
  • sports and massage therapists
  • tattooists

Local authority run services:

  • community centres
  • youth and community centres
  • village halls

This requirement applies to any establishment that provides an on-site service and to any events that take place on its premises. It does not apply where services are taken off site immediately, for example, a food or drink outlet which only provides takeaways. If a business offers a mixture of a sit-in and takeaway service, contact information only needs to be collected for customers who are dining in.

This could be asked for at the counter, rather than the point of entry, when servers can more easily ask the customer whether they are dining in or taking away.

Some venues might have communal or open-plan dining areas such as food courts. In this situation, the responsibility lies with the legal owner, however the operator could ask the individual outlets to conduct this on their behalf if more practical.

Places of worship, including when the venue is used for events and other community activities, are not included in these regulations but are still strongly encouraged to maintain staff, customer and visitor logs and to display an official NHS QR code poster. Consent should still be sought from individuals entering your establishment.This requirement does not apply to services that are designed to feed homeless people.

What information should be collected?

Venues must ask every customer and visitor for the following details (unless they have ‘checked in’ using the NHS COVID-19 app):

  • the name of the customer or visitor. If there is more than one person, then you can record the name of the ‘lead member’ of the group (of up to 6 people) and the number of people in that group
  • a contact phone number for each customer or visitor, or for the lead member of a group of people. If a phone number is not available, you should ask for their email address instead, or if neither are available, then postal address
  • date of visit, arrival time and, where possible, departure time
  • the name of the assigned staff member, if a customer or visitor will interact with only one member of staff (for example, a hairdresser). This should be recorded alongside the name of the customer or visitor

Recording both arrival and departure times (or estimated departure times) will help reduce the number of customers or staff needing to be contacted by NHS Test and Trace. We recognise, however, that recording departure times will not always be practicable and this is not required by law.

All designated venues must also keep a record of all staff working on the premises on a given day, the time of their shift, and their contact details. This covers anyone providing a service or activity including volunteers.

No additional data should be collected for this purpose.

In England, you do not have to request details from people who check in with the official NHS QR poster, and venues should not ask them to do both. Venues must not make the specific use of the NHS QR code a precondition of entry (as the individual has the right to choose to provide their contact details if they prefer). Should someone choose to check in with the official NHS QR poster, a venue should check their phone screen to ensure they have successfully checked in.

What if someone does not wish to share their details, provide incorrect information or chooses not to scan the NHS QR code?

Hospitality venues must refuse entry to a customer or visitor who does not provide their name and contact details, is not in a group (for which one other member has provided name and contact details), or who has not scanned the NHS QR code.

Venues in other settings do not need to refuse entry but should encourage customers and visitors to share their details or scan the official NHS QR poster in order to support NHS Test and Trace and advise them that this information will only be used where necessary to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

If in the rare case that a customer or visitor becomes unruly, you should follow your own security procedures. This may include calling the police if you feel the individual poses a risk to yourself or others.

The accuracy of the information provided will be the responsibility of the individual who provides it. You do not have to verify an individual’s identity for NHS Test and Trace purposes, and we advise against doing so except where organisations have a reasonable suspicion that customer or visitor details are incorrect.

Exempt visits

You do not need to ask for contact details or check scanning of the NHS QR code if the person is a police officer or emergency responder on duty.

You do not need to ask for contact details for people whose visit is for the sole purpose of making a delivery or collection by supplies or contractors, including food or physical goods.

You do not need to ask for contact details for those under the age of 16. If an individual says they are under the age of 16, you should not ask for identification unless you judge this to be false.

If someone does not have the mental capacity to provide their contact details, hospitality venues should not refuse entry (where they are normally required to do so). Businesses will not be in breach of the requirements if they have reason to believe someone can’t provide the details for disability reasons and don’t ask for them as a result.

If you’re told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or the NHS COVID-19 app, please follow the guidance on the NHS website.

If you need help to ensure your premises are COVID-secure, visit our Back in Business page where you can download free advice and a wide variety of risk assessments. Alternatively, contact your Advisor as usual or call Health & Safety on 01427 678 660 and one of the team will be happy to help.

Sources: GOV.uk