News & Updates

Broadcast September 2020

This month, we discuss the end of the furlough scheme and what the next steps could be, spot checks to see if you’re COVID-secure, and an update on our training offering.

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 end of the furlough scheme – what next?

As from the 1st September, the government contribution to the Furlough scheme reduced from 80% to 70%, with employers now required to contribute the other 10% to employees to keep them on furlough. This hails another step closer to the furlough scheme closing altogether as of the 31st October. The scheme will phase down further as from the 1st October, with government contributions reducing to 60% and employer contributions increasing to 20% accordingly.

Speculation in the media has suggested that Germany may look to extend the Kurzabeit, its version of the furlough scheme, for up to 24 months, to help protect businesses and jobs. However, there has been no such speculation surrounding the UK furlough scheme. Therefore, businesses who haven’t already, should start planning the return to work of those staff currently still on furlough. For businesses that are not open at all, this will entail ensuring that the businesses premises are COVID-secure and that all the relevant risk assessments are put into place and communicated to all staff. For staff that have not yet returned to the workplace, Stallard Kane advise for them to be sent an employee availability form, so companies can identify any change in an employee’s individual circumstances and plan a return to work accordingly. 

Unfortunately, the end of the furlough scheme could see an increase in the number of redundancies companies have to make. Over the last 6 months, as you will have seen in the press as well, we have seen a huge increase in the number of client communication on redundancies. In the unfortunate event that these need to take place, it is recommended that you speak to your dedicated HR Advisor to discuss the process to follow. 

To offset the number of job losses, the government have created several initiatives to stimulate job creation including:

  • The Kickstart scheme – The government will introduce a new Kickstart Scheme in Great Britain, a £2 billion fund to create hundreds of thousands of high quality 6-month work placements aimed at those aged 16-24 who are on Universal Credit and are deemed to be at risk of long-term unemployment. Funding available for each job will cover 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week, plus the associated employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions.
  • New funding for National Careers Service – The government will provide an additional £32 million funding over the next 2 years for the National Careers Service, so that 269,000 more people in England can receive personalised advice on training and work.
  • High quality traineeships for young people – The government will provide an additional £111 million this year for traineeships in England, to fund high quality work placements and training for 16-24 year olds. This funding is enough to triple participation in traineeships. For the first time ever, the government will fund employers who provide trainees with work experience, at a rate of £1,000 per trainee. The government will improve provision and expand eligibility for traineeships to those with Level 3 qualifications and below, to ensure that more young people have access to high quality training.
  • Payments for employers who hire new apprentices – The government will introduce a new payment of £2,000 to employers in England for each new apprentice they hire aged under 25, and a £1,500 payment for each new apprentice they hire aged 25 and over, from 1st August 2020 to 31st January 2021. These payments will be in addition to the existing £1,000 payment the government already provides for new 16-18 year-old apprentices, and those aged under 25 with an Education, Health and Care Plan – where that applies.

As ever, should you require further help or advice regarding this or any other HR/Employment Law issue, please contact your advisor as usual, or call 01427 678 660, and #oneoftheteam will be happy to help.

TRAINING UPDATE: Face to face training is back!

Although we’ve continued to deliver various courses during the pandemic, by way of virtual classrooms, we’re delighted to announce that we are now resuming face-to-face training (COVID-secure, of course!).

Our latest scheduled open courses include:

Fire Warden
18th November, 9.00am – 12.30pm
Location: The Club on the Park, Gainsborough Trinity Football Club, Northolme, Gainsborough DN21 2QW
Cost: £75.00 + VAT per person
Book here

IOSH Managing Safely
23rd, 30th November & 7th December, 9.00am – 5.00pm
Location: The Club on the Park, Gainsborough Trinity Football Club, Northolme, Gainsborough DN21 2QW
Cost: £475 + VAT per person
Book here

To find out more or to book, visit our Training page or contact our Training team on 01427 678 660 or email training@skaltd.co.uk

H&S UPDATE: HSE and councils are now doing COVID-secure spot checks – are you prepared?

With the furlough scheme coming to an end, and more people returning to the workplace, it is essential to remember that, as an employer, you have a legal responsibility to protect workers and others from risk to their health and safety – this now includes making sure your premises are COVID-secure.

HSE have been conducting spot checks on businesses, and in particular, construction sites, but they are now visiting all types of businesses, including schools. Local authorities now also have the power to carry out checks and impose fines or order a business to temporarily close.

Therefore, everyone needs to assess and manage the risks of COVID-19, and in particular, businesses should consider the risks to their workers and visitors. This means you need to think about the risks they face and do everything reasonably practicable to minimise them, recognising you cannot completely eliminate the risk of COVID-19.

You must make sure that the risk assessment for your business addresses the risks of COVID-19 – we have lots of free risk assessments on our Back in Business page. You should also consider the security implications of any decisions and control measures you intend to put in place, as any revisions could present new or altered security risks that may require mitigation. A risk assessment is not about creating huge amounts of paperwork, but rather about identifying sensible measures to control the risks in your workplace. If you have fewer than five workers, or are self-employed, you don’t have to write anything down as part of your risk assessment. Your risk assessment will help you decide whether you have done everything you need to.

Employers have a duty to consult their people on health and safety. You can do this by listening and talking to them about the work and how you will manage risks from COVID-19. The people who do the work are often the best people to understand the risks in the workplace and will have a view on how to work safely. You are encouraged to have individual discussions with your workers where reasonable, including those who are clinically extremely vulnerable and therefore may be returning to the workplace, to consider any uncertainties they have about precautions in place to make the workplace COVID-secure. Involving them in making decisions shows that you take their health and safety seriously. You must consult with the health and safety representative selected by a recognised trade union or, if there isn’t one, a representative chosen by workers. As an employer, you cannot decide who the representative will be. If you need further guidance on this, please contact our HR team on 01427 678 660.

Where the enforcing authority, such as the HSE or your local authority, identifies employers who are not taking action to comply with the relevant public health legislation and guidance to control public health risks, they are empowered to take a range of actions to improve control of workplace risks. These actions include closure of venues under the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No. 3) Regulations 2020. For example, this would cover employers not taking appropriate action to ensure social distancing, where possible.

Failure to complete a risk assessment which takes account of COVID-19, or completing a risk assessment but failing to put in place sufficient measures to manage the risk of COVID-19, could constitute a breach of health and safety law. The actions the enforcing authority can take include the provision of specific advice to employers to support them to achieve the required standard, through to issuing enforcement notices to help secure improvements. Serious breaches and failure to comply with enforcement notices can constitute a criminal offence, with serious fines and even imprisonment for up to two years. There is also a wider system of enforcement, which includes specific obligations and conditions for licensed premises.

Employers are expected to respond to any advice or notices issued by enforcing authorities rapidly and are required to do so within any timescales imposed by the enforcing authorities.

Employers must follow all instructions from authorities in the event of new local restrictions. See further detail of areas with additional local restrictions.

Please contact your H&S Advisor or call 01427 678 660 if you need help to ensure your workplace is COVID-secure.

Sources: GOV.uk