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This page is dedicated to our regular updates regarding the current Coronavirus crisis. Stallard Kane news and advice about other subjects will appear on our News and Updates page as usual. Please bookmark this page and check back daily – updates will be added to the top of the page, below the intro paragraph.

The current COVID-19 pandemic is affecting every one of us. We would like to reassure all of our clients that we have put measures in place to provide our usual services as much as we possibly can. Our foremost responsibility is keeping our employees and clients safe, so the way we work may be different, with people working from home or unable to do site visits, but we are equipping all of our staff to be able to communicate with each other and our clients using digital solutions and a variety of channels.

This current crisis will pass and we understand the importance of keeping your business safe and ready to face the future. We will be posting regular updates on this website and social media channels.

We will also be sending out news bulletins via email, not just about the current crisis, but about all of our services, and in particular, upcoming HR and employment law legislation updates. If you do not currently receive our email updates, you can subscribe here.

COVID-19: Back in Business guide

We have produced this Coronavirus (COVID-19): Back in business document to help guide you through your return to business.
There are many health, safety and HR issues you will need to consider, and you will find lots of advice and tips to help ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible. The guide is complemented by a ‘Toolkit’ of useful Coronavirus documents, risk assessments and templates including:

  • Employee Availability Form
  • Re-opening the Workplace Inspection Sheet
  • Return from Furlough letter
  • Coronavirus Policy Advice
  • Homeowner Screen Questionnaire
  • Screen Questionnaire
  • Imposing a Period of Holiday During Furlough Letter
  • Toolbox Talk
  • 18 Risk Assessments for different sectors

To find out more, click the button below.


Other useful documents

In addition to the useful documents on our Back in Business we have produced some other documents you may find useful. We will review these documents on a regular basis and update them on here.

    Are You an Existing Client of Stallard Kane
    YesNo

    Would you be interested in hearing about more free content from Stallard Kane, by email or phone
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    As the spread of Coronavirus is changing by the day, it is most important that you keep up to date with the latest information and advice provided by the Government.

    Keep safe everyone, and remember, we are #oneoftheteam – always on hand, as ever, whenever you need help or advice.


    22 October

    What if…? Your COVID-19 questions answered

    We have been receiving a lot of enquiries from people asking what they should do if someone shows symptoms of COVID-19, tests positive or is asked to self-isolate. 

    So, we have put together the following, broken down into different subjects and scenarios…

    Schools/Schoolchildren

    What if…

    My child has tested positive?
    The whole household should self-isolate for 14 days from the day the child’s symptoms started (or from the day of a positive test if there are no symptoms). There is no need for other members of the household to get a test, unless they start displaying symptoms, but they should practice social distancing where possible. The child only has to self-isolate for 10 days, but the school may choose to increase that to 14 days. If contacted by NHS Test and Trace*, this is actually a legal requirement.   

    My child is sent home to isolate because another child in their class has tested positive?
    Your child has to self-isolate for 14 days (even if they have a test and it comes back negative). The rest of household does NOT need to self-isolate (unless they too have, or get, symptoms) but they should look to socially distance themselves from the child where possible.  

    Members of your household

    What if…

    A member of my household has symptoms?
    The household member should get a test and the rest of the household should self-isolate until the individual get the results.

    A member of my household has tested positive?
    The whole household should self-isolate for 14 days from the day symptoms started (or from the date of a positive test if there are no symptoms). There is no need for other members of the household to get a test, unless they start displaying symptoms, but they should practice social distancing where possible. The household member who tested positive has to self-isolate for 10 days. If contacted through NHS Test and Trace, this is actually a legal requirement.  

    A member of my household has been told to isolate because someone in their workplace has tested positive?
    Your household member has to self-isolate for 14 days (even if they have a test and it comes back negative). The rest of the household does NOT need to self-isolate (unless they too have, or get, symptoms), but they should look to socially distance themselves from the household member where possible.

    You

    What if…

    I have symptoms?
    Go home and arrange for a test. You should self-isolate for 10 days from the start of the symptoms.

    I have tested positive?
    You should self-isolate for 10 days and follow the instructions to report it to NHS Test and Trace. They will ask who you have been in close contact with (less than one metre for one minute, or between one and two metres for more than 15 minutes**), so that they can contact those people.  

    Working on site

    What if…

    A person on my site has symptoms and has gone home?
    No other person needs to self-isolate, but areas where the individual has been should be thoroughly cleaned. Company procedures should be followed, if they are in place.

    A person on my site has tested positive?
    Any area where the individual has worked should be isolated and deep cleaned (desks, cabs etc). Any individual that has had close contact with the person testing positive (less than one metre for one minute, or between one and two metres for more than 15 minutes**) should be sent home to self-isolate for 14 days. The person testing positive should self-isolate for 10 days. Company procedures should be followed, if they are in place.

    A person on my site has a family member who has tested positive?
    This person should NOT come to site, but self-isolate for 14 days at home. If they are contacted by NHS Test and Trace*, this is actually a legal requirement.

    A person on my site has a family member who is showing symptoms
    This person (and everyone else in their household) should self-isolate, while their family member takes a test and gets their results. If the test result is negative, the rest of household can return to work, but the individual who was tested should still self-isolate for 10 days from the start of their symptoms. 

    visitor who attended my site has symptoms?
    There is no need for any employee to self-isolate, but any areas where the visitor has been should be thoroughly cleaned.

     Working in the office

    What if…

    A person in the office has symptoms and has gone home?
    No other person needs to self-isolate, but areas where the individual has been should be thoroughly cleaned. 

    A person in the office has tested positive?
    Any area where the individual has worked should be isolated and deep cleaned (desks, welfare facilities etc). Any individual that has had close contact with the person testing positive (less than one metre for one minute, or between one and two metres for more than 15 minutes**) should be sent home to self-isolate for 14 days. The person testing positive should self-isolate for 10 days. 

    A person in the office has a family member who has tested positive?
    This person should NOT come in to the workplace, but self-isolate for 14 days at home (assuming the family member is in the same household). If they are contacted by NHS Test and Trace*, this is actually a legal requirement.

    A person in the office has a family member who is showing symptoms?
    This person (and everyone else in their household) should self-isolate, while their family member takes a test and gets their results. If the test result is negative, the rest of household can return to work, but the individual who was tested should still self-isolate for 10 days from the start of their symptoms.   

    visitor who attended the office has tested positive?
    Any person that had close contact (less than one metre for one minute, or between one and two metres for more than 15 minutes**) with the visitor who has tested positive, should be sent home to self-isolate for 14 days. If they are contacted by NHS Test and Trace*, this is actually a legal requirement.

    visitor who attended the office has symptoms?
    There is no need for any employee to self-isolate, but any areas where the visitor has been should be thoroughly cleaned.

    Sharing a vehicle

    What if…

    I’ve shared a vehicle with someone who has tested positive?
    If you shared the vehicle while the person had symptoms, or was contacted by NHS Test and Trace, then you should go home and self-isolate for 14 days. It is more likely that NHS Test and Trace* will contact people who are required to self-isolate, based on the time/day that the vehicle was shared. 

    I’ve shared a vehicle with someone who is showing symptoms?
    There’s no reason for you to self-isolate, but the vehicle should be thoroughly cleaned and the person showing symptoms should arrange for a test

    I’ve shared a vehicle with someone who has a family member who is showing symptoms?
    There is no reason for you to self-isolate or take any action.

    I’ve shared a vehicle with someone who has a family member who has tested positive?
    There’s no reason for you to self-isolate or take any action, unless the person you shared the vehicle with was showing symptoms.

    Test and Trace

    What if…

    I get a message from the NHS Test and Trace App* telling me to self-isolate because I’ve been in contact with someone who has tested positive?
    The advice is to go home and self-isolate for 14 days, but this is not a legal requirement. 

    A member of my household gets a message from the NHS Test and Trace App* telling them to self-isolate?
    There’s no reason for you to self-isolate. 

    *Note 1: NHS Test and Trace and the NHS Test and Trace app (NHS COVID-19 app) are two different things. If you are contacted by NHS Test and Traceyou are legally required to self-isolate and could be fined if you ignore the rule. If you’re contacted through the App, our advice is to self-isolate but it’s not a legal requirement. The individual has to make a decision as to whether they have indeed been close to someone, hence the reason to follow social distancing wherever possible.

    *Note 2: If you have symptoms and get a test and it comes back negative, you will receive an email from the NHS. The email will tell you that you should only return to work 48hrs AFTER any symptoms of fever have stopped, and you should still discuss returning to work with your employer. 

    **Note 3: The distances and times for being a contact or close contact do not change, even if the subjects were/are wearing face coverings or other PPE, unless in a clinical situation.

    Pay Scenarios

    What if…

    An employee has to self-isolate due to having symptoms?
    SSP is payable from day one. If the company has a company sick pay scheme in place, you could pay full pay. 

    An employee has tested positive?
    SSP is payable from day one for two weeks. If the company has a company sick pay scheme in place, this should be adhered to.  

    An employee doesn’t feel safe to come into work and wants to self-isolate, but they don’t have the facilities to work from home?
    Your company should go through their concerns and the measures they have put in place to ensure that it is a COVID-secure environment. If the employee still does not wish to come in and cannot work from home, then either this can be taken as a period of holiday or unpaid leave. There is no need to pay SSP in this scenario. 


      

    12 October

    UK workers to get 67% of pay if businesses forced to close by the government

    Rishi Sunak has announced an extension to the Job Support scheme, which will start operating from 1st November and is due to last for 6 months. 

    The announcement made on Friday means that the government will pay up to 67% of the wages of employees whose businesses have been forced to shut as a result of government-imposed coronavirus restrictions.

    The scheme will only apply to those who are forced to close, as opposed to those who choose to close. It is believed that the government grants will be capped at a maximum of £2,100 per employee per month. 

    In addition to the support of employees’ wages, Sunak announced an increase in business grants for businesses who are forced to shut, with up to £3,000 a month paid every fortnight.

    To recap, here is the information from our previous update (Broadcast) on the Job Support Scheme:

    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.


    24 September

    Today’s update covers Test and Trace – what it is, who needs to do it, what happens if you’re contacted, and what a business needs to do in the event that someone is exposed or infected…

    Get ready for Test and Trace

    From Thursday 24 September, any businesses that have customers inside, such as hospitality venues and hairdressers, for example, must, 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.

    The simplest way to do this is to use the new NHS COVID-19 app, which is available to download from the App Store or Google Play on a smartphone. Please encourage your visitors to do this.

    To create your poster, visit the official website. The process is really simple and quick. You will need:

    • the address details for each of your venues 
    • your email address
    • an email address and contact phone number for each of your locations (for example, contact details of a store manager if that’s not you)

    NHS COVID-19 app users will then be able to scan (check-in) as they enter a venue. This means that if people visit the venue and later test positive for coronavirus, other app users who were there at the same time may be sent an alert, if local public health teams think this is necessary. The app notification will not mention the name of your venue, it will just let app users know that they may have come into contact with coronavirus and provide them with public health advice.

    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:

    Hospitality:

    • 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.

    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 theat 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, provides 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.

    We hope this helps clarify matters. However, although not all businesses need to, by law, collect their visitors’ details, it is probably wise to do so anyway, depending on the nature of your business and the type of visitor you have.

    More detailed information can be found on the government’s website

    What happens if I am a contact of someone with a positive test result?

    If someone tests positive for COVID-19 and a ‘contact’ is notified by NHS Test and Trace service by text, email or phone, you will need to self-isolate at home for the next 14 days, even if you don’t feel ill, as you may be spreading the virus to others before developing any symptoms (even if you don’t develop any symptoms, it’s possible you could still be spreading the virus).

    If you think you may have been into contact with someone who has developed COVID-19, but have not been contacted by NHS Test and Trace, you do not need to self-isolate.

    Fines

    From 28th September, you could be fined if you do not stay at home and self-isolate for 14 days.

    New fines for those breaching self-isolation rules will start at £1,000 – bringing this in line with the penalty for breaking quarantine after international travel – but could increase to up to £10,000 for repeat offences and for the most egregious breaches, including for those preventing others from self-isolating.

    If you have to self-isolate, you must not:

    • go to work (more on this further on)
    • go to school
    • go to public areas
    • use taxis or public transport
    • go outside, even to buy food or other essentials
    • go outside for exercise – this should be taken within your home

    The government is aware that if you live with children, or with someone with significant conditions such as learning difficulties or mental illness, not all of the above may not be possible, but you are asked to follow the guidance to the best of your ability and keep everyone as safe as possible.

    What is meant by a ‘contact’?

    A ‘contact’ is a person who has been close to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 anytime from 2 days before the person was symptomatic up to 10 days from onset of symptoms (this is when they are infectious to others). For example, a contact can be:

    • people who spend significant time in the same household as a person who has tested positive for COVID-19
    • sexual partners
    • a person who has had face-to-face contact (within one metre), with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, including:
      • being coughed on
      • having a face-to-face conversation within one metre
      • having skin-to-skin physical contact, or
      • contact within one metre for one minute or longer without face-to-face contact
    • a person who has been within 2 metres of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, for more than 15 minutes
    • a person who has travelled in a small vehicle with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or in a large vehicle or plane near someone who has tested positive for COVID-19

    If, however, there has been a perspex (or similar) screen between people while they have been interacting, this wouldn’t be considered sufficient ‘contact’ to fall into the above list.

    Should I have a test if I’ve been in contact with someone who has tested positive?

    Not necessarily. You do not need to arrange for a COVID-19 test unless you develop symptoms. The most important symptoms are:

    • a new continuous cough
    • a high temperature
    • a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell

    What about other members of my household?

    If you DO NOT have symptoms of COVID-19, other people in your household (or support bubble) do not need to self-isolate at home with you. However, it is important that you take steps to stop the possible spread of infection in your home by washing your hands often for at least 20 seconds, using soap and water, or use hand sanitiser. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Cover coughs and sneezes.

    If anyone you live with is clinically vulnerable or clinically extremely vulnerable stay away from them as much as possible, following the guidance here. For the clinically extremely vulnerable, follow the shielding guidance.

    What if I am an employee and can’t work from home?

    If you are an employee and unable to work from home, please refer to this guidance from the Department for Work and Pensions to find out about the support that is available to you to help you to self-isolate.

    What should a business do if someone develops symptoms or has to self-isolate?

    Recently, we have received a lot of enquiries around what it means for a business if someone contracts COVID-19.  

    The information below should help clear up any confusion…

    What if someone at work might have coronavirus?

    If someone is at work when they are contacted by NHS Test and Trace, or they start to develop symptoms, they should:

    • tell their employer immediately and go home
    • avoid touching anything, and wash their hands regularly
    • catch any coughs or sneezes in a tissue (if they do not have a tissue, they should use the crook of their elbow) and put it in a bin
    • use a separate bathroom from others, if possible
    • avoid using public transport to travel home, if possible

    Will the business have to close?

    The workplace will not necessarily have to close, but you should follow the cleaning advice from the government.

    Supporting staff who need to self-isolate

    If someone needs to self-isolate, it is good practice for employers to:

    • send them home immediately if they are at work
    • support them staying at home while they self-isolate
    • arrange for them to work from home, if possible, and if they’re well enough
    • pay them any sick pay they’re entitled to while self-isolating

    New fines for those breaching self-isolation rules will start at £1,000 – bringing this in line with the penalty for breaking quarantine after international travel – but could increase to up to £10,000 for repeat offences and for the most egregious breaches, including for those preventing others from self-isolating.

    Sick pay for self-isolating

    As of 13 March 2020, employees and workers who self-isolate must receive any Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) due to them from the first day they’re absent from work if:

    • they have coronavirus (COVID-19)
    • they have coronavirus symptoms
    • someone in their household has coronavirus symptoms
    • they’ve been told to self-isolate by a doctor or NHS 111
    • they’ve been told to self-isolate by the NHS Test and Trace service

    From 28th September the government will offer people who are required by law to self-isolate, support in the form of a payment of £500 for those on lower incomes who cannot work from home and have lost income as a result.

    Some employers can claim back up to 2 weeks’ SSP they’ve paid to anyone because of coronavirus. Find out more about claiming back SSP due to coronavirus on GOV.UK.

    What if you need proof?

    Employees in self-isolation need to follow their workplace’s usual sickness reporting process.

    Employees can ‘self-certify’ for the first 7 days off work. This means following their workplace process but not having to get a note from a doctor or NHS 111.

    Employees can ‘self-certify’ for the first 7 days off work. This means following their workplace process but not having to get a note from a doctor or NHS 111.

    Those self-isolating due to coronavirus can get an online self-isolation note from the:

    Those self-isolating due to coronavirus can get an online self-isolation note from the:

    You might need to be flexible if asking for self-isolation notes as, for example, an employee with severe symptoms might not be able to get a note straight away.

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


    4 September

    Did you miss our latest webinar?

    Back in Business - Now What?

    Last week, we presented our latest webinar – COVID-19: Back in Business – now what?

    Presented by members of our Health & Safety, HR, Training and Compliance teams, it offered advice and guidance around what to do and look out for now that work is returning to ‘normal’, and how to avoid any pitfalls along the way.

    There were lots of questions, which were answered by our team during the webinar itself, so if you missed it, or attended, but would like to watch it again, it’s now available on our Webinars page or on our YouTube channel, along with all of our other webinars and Toolbox Talks.

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


    Be prepared for HSE spot checks with our free COVID-19 Health and Safety guide for schools

    Ensuring a safe return to schools is vital to the GB recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. 

    Like businesses, school duty holders have an important role to play to ensure that the risks of coronavirus transmission are adequately controlled in line with government guidance.

    Alongside businesses in other sectors that are already being checked, HSE will be carrying out spot-checks in schools as they return to full capacity for the start of the Autumn term.

    Spot checks will take the form of an initial phone call to review the measures taken for reopening, to minimise spread of the virus causing COVID-19.

    You can read more about what the checks entail here.

    To help you, we have produced an updated COVID-19: Back to School Health & Safety guide, full of health and safety advice, specifically geared towards schools and other education establishments, which is available to download for free.

    If you need further help, contact your advisor or call 01427 678 660 and one of the team will be happy to help.


    DVSA Maintenance Investigations are changing

    The Maintenance Investigation Visit Reports (MIVR), which DVSA carries out to ensure operators have the right systems and facilities in place to maintain their vehicles, are changing.

    The MIVR form is being updated to reflect this. This is the document that DVSA staff complete during a visit. These reports can be given to the Traffic Commissioners if the operator’s systems or facilities are not good enough.

    Operators will always receive a copy of these reports and along with other feedback to help them improve if necessary.There are some new areas that DVSA will be checking on MIVR visits, some of them include:

    • management of exhaust emissions
    • wheels and tyres
    • safety recalls
    • vehicle security.

    To ensure you stay compliant, please read The guide for operators on MVIR – it also includes helpful links on improving your maintenance systems.


    28 August

    HSE spot checks – are you prepared?

    As we have mentioned before, HSE are making spot checks to ensure that businesses are COVID-secure.

    These checks are generally by phone and are not quick calls – they ask around 50 questions, including some around a company’s risk assessments, communications and social distancing measures etc, and you are then asked to email evidence. If the HSE inspector is unhappy with the answers given, it is likely that a follow up visit will happen.

    However, we have also heard of spot inspection visits taking place without an initial phone call, particularly in the construction industry. If the HSE consider the anti-COVID measures to be unsuitable or insufficient, they will shut down a site immediately (one company has had five sites shut down in the last 10 days).

    So, it’s absolutely essential that you are prepared and that you keep yourself and your workers safe.

    If you need help to get COVID-secure, contact your advisor or call 01427 678 660 and one of the team will be happy to help.


    Are your Driving for Work policies up to date to take into consideration any Grey fleet changes?

    With many work practices changing post lockdown, it’s important to consider the impact of any increase in Grey fleet usage, which is where an employee uses their own car for work purposes.

    As more people work from home as the norm, the place of work clause in any employee contract should be changed to reflect this. Consequently, if they then use their own car to travel to the office – usually classed as commuting, this would now be classed as business travel.

    As a business owner, it is your legal obligation to ensure that staff-owned vehicles used for any work-related travel are properly maintained and legally compliant.

    Simon Staton, client management director of Venson Automotive Solutions, said: “Employers have a duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of their employees. Where employers allow own vehicle use, it is important that processes are in place to manage aspects such as driver licence checking, insurance validity, vehicle condition and mileage audit.”

    With most employees’ vehicles being, on average, older and more polluting than company fleet vehicles, it’s worth employers looking into offering vehicle ownership schemes, which can benefit both the employer and employee through fixed all-inclusive monthly costs, tax and NI savings and fleet discounts. 

    If you need help to review your policies, contact your advisor or call 01427 678 660 and one of the team will be happy to help.


    10 August

    Face masks – where and when should you wear them?

    As you are all aware, the advice surrounding the wearing of face masks is changing regularly, and the guidance isn’t always clear.

    We’ve had several enquiries over the past week or so, asking us to help clear up the confusion. One such example was someone planning to hold a meeting for its employees at a hotel and conference centre – “were all of the attendees required to wear a face mask to the meeting?”

    From last Saturday, the official requirement was that if you cannot guarantee 2 metre social distancing at all times then yes, face coverings are required, but there must be good ventilation or air flow in the conference room as well, and remember, there is still a 30 person limit in place. 

    You are also required to wear face coverings in public areas of hotels (but you don’t have to wear one if you’re dining there or drinking in the bar area).

    The government’s website says:

    There are some places where you must wear a face covering by law. In England, you must wear a face covering in the following indoor settings (a list of examples for each is included in the brackets):

    • public transport (aeroplanes, trains, trams and buses)
    • transport hubs (airports, rail and tram stations and terminals, maritime ports and terminals, bus and coach stations and terminals)
    • shops and supermarkets (places which offer goods or services for retail sale or hire)
    • shopping centres (malls and indoor markets)
    • auction houses
    • premises providing professional, legal or financial services (post offices, banks, building societies, high-street solicitors and accountants, credit unions, short-term loan providers, savings clubs and money service businesses)
    • premises providing personal care and beauty treatments (hair salons, barbers, nail salons, massage centres, tattoo and piercing parlours)
    • premises providing veterinary services
    • visitor attractions and entertainment venues (museums, galleries, cinemas, theatres, concert halls, cultural and heritage sites, aquariums, indoor zoos and visitor farms, bingo halls, amusement arcades, adventure activity centres, funfairs, theme parks)
    • libraries and public reading rooms
    • places of worship
    • funeral service providers (funeral homes, crematoria and burial ground chapels)
    • community centres, youth centres and social clubs
    • public areas in hotels and hostels
    • storage and distribution facilities

    You are expected to wear a face covering before entering any of these settings and must keep it on until you leave, unless there is a reasonable excuse for removing it. More detailed advice on the application of these requirements in different settings can be found in the Government’s guidance for working safely.

    You should also wear a face covering in indoor places not listed here where social distancing may be difficult and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet.

    Face coverings are needed in NHS settings, including hospitals and primary or community care settings, such as GP surgeries. They are also advised to be worn in care homes.

    Enforcement measures for failing to comply with this law

    Premises where face coverings are required should take reasonable steps to promote compliance with the law.

    The police can take measures if members of the public do not comply with this law without a valid exemption and transport operators can deny access to their public transport services if a passenger is not wearing a face covering, or direct them to wear one or leave a service.

    If necessary, the police and Transport for London (TfL) officers have enforcement powers including issuing fines of £100 (halving to £50 if paid within 14 days).

    There are some exemptions from having to wear face masks, which can be found here. The advice above also differed for WalesScotland and Northern Ireland.

    A few weeks ago, our Senior Health & Safety Advisor, Chris Bartley, recorded a Toolbox talk on the use of face coverings in the fight against COVID-19. Although the laws have changed around when and where they should be worn, the rest of his advice still stands.

    You can view the video on our YouTube channel.


    23 July

    Opening and having to close businesses during the pandemic

    In recent weeks, the government have allowed a wide range of sectors and activities to restart, in line with COVID-19 Secure guidelines.

    This is great news for businesses and the economy, but it is important that working safely guidelines are adhered to, or a business may have to close again due to a local outbreak.

    Today’s update includes a timeline of businesses that are being allowed to re-open, as well what to do if someone in the workplace tests positive. 

    Which businesses can open, and when?

    From 24 July:

    • Face coverings will be required in shops and supermarkets – this is in addition to public transport where they are already required. People are also strongly encouraged to wear face coverings in other enclosed public spaces where there are people they do not normally meet

    From 25 July:

    • Sports facilities and venues, including such as indoor gyms, fitness and dance studios, indoor swimming pools and indoor water parks, can open

    From 1 August (subject to rates of transmission closer to the time):

    • Employers will have more discretion, in consultation with their employees, on how to ensure people can work safely – working from home is one way to do this, but workplaces can also be made safe by following COVID-19 Secure guidelines
    • The clinically extremely vulnerable will no longer need to follow advice on shielding, though should still take particular care to follow the social distancing guidelines when meeting people
    • Bowling alleys, skating rinks and casinos can open
    • Conference and exhibition centres will be able to reopen in order to enable pilots for business events to take place – they should not yet be open fully to host events more widely
    • Indoor performances to a live audience can begin to take place, in line with COVID-19 Secure guidelines and subject to the success of pilots that are taking place as soon as possible
    • Further pilots of larger events can take place in venues, including in sports stadia and business conferences
    • Small wedding receptions – sit-down meals for no more than 30 people – can take place, subject to COVID-19 Secure guidance
    • All remaining close contact services, such as facial treatment and make up application, can restart, in line with COVID-secure guidelines

    From 1 September:

    • Schools, nurseries and colleges will open for all children and young people on a full-time basis
    • Universities are working to reopen as fully as possible

    From 1 October (if prevalence remains around or below current levels):

    • The government will bring back audiences in stadiums, and allow conferences and other business events to recommence in a COVID-19 Secure way

    Remember, to contact your advisor if your business requires a coronavirus-specific risk assessment, in line with government guidelines. We already have over 20 sector-specific risk assessments to download for free as part of our Back in Business toolkit


    What to do if a worker tests positive

    In the past week, a factory in a West Midlands hot spot has closed after a third of the workforce tested positive for COVID-19

    The above company was not closed down but offered to close their doors temporarily, after meetings with public health partners, who urged businesses to contact them straight away if two or more workers tested positive for COVID-19.

    But what would you do in these circumstances, and how can you avoid an outbreak in the first place?

    Obviously, prevention is key, so it is crucial that employers follow the 5 steps for working safely along with sector-specific guidance and risk assessments to prevent an outbreak because, even if a business doesn’t have to close completely, what would you do if two or more members of one team or department tested positive – could your business still function?

    It is vital that employers play their part by:

    • making their workplaces as safe as possible (where working from home is not possible)
    • requesting that workers self-isolate if they have been asked to do so
    • supporting their workers when in isolation

    Although this may seem disruptive for businesses, it is less disruptive than an outbreak of COVID-19 in the workplace, and far less disruptive than further social and economic restrictions.

    The NHS Test and Trace service will support businesses and economic recovery by:

    • providing free testing for anyone who has symptoms of coronavirus
    • asking those that test positive and their close contacts to self-isolate to stop the spread of the virus in the workplace

    If a worker develops symptoms

    If a worker develops symptoms, they should request a free test as soon as their symptoms start. Once they have ordered the test, they’ll be asked by the NHS Test and Trace service to provide details of anyone who they have been in close recent contact with. This will not automatically be all their co-workers, but anyone who meets the definition of a close contact.

    Where an interaction between two people has taken place through a perspex (or equivalent) screen, this would not be considered sufficient contact, provided that there has been no other contact.

    The contact tracers will not consider the wearing of personal protective equipment (PPE) as a mitigation when assessing whether a recent contact is likely to have risked transmitting the virus. Only full medical-grade PPE worn in health and care settings will be considered.

    Medical-grade PPE should not be purchased to circumvent self-isolation, as this risks disrupting critical supplies needed by the NHS and social care sector.

    What to do if the test is positive

    If the person with symptoms tests positive for COVID-19, the NHS Test and Trace service will notify their close contacts and instruct them to self-isolate.

    This will occur by either a phone call, text message, email or letter. The period of self-isolation will be for up to 14 days, from the point of most recent contact with the person who has tested positive for coronavirus. When Test and Trace advises contacts to self-isolate, the service does not tell them the identity of the person who has tested positive.

    When a case should be escalated to local public health experts

    Contact tracing will be taken over by local public health experts where the person who has a positive test result works in or has recently visited:

    • a health or care setting, for example a hospital, GP surgery or care home
    • a prison or other secure establishment
    • a school for children with special needs
    • any setting where there’s a risk of a local outbreak

    Make sure your workers self-isolate

    You should help your employees self-isolate if they:

    • have coronavirus symptoms and are waiting for a test result
    • have tested positive for coronavirus
    • are a member of the same household as someone who has symptoms or has tested positive for coronavirus
    • have been in close recent contact with someone who has tested positive and received a notification to self-isolate from NHS Test and Trace

    You should not share the identity of a worker who has tested positive with other workers.

    If a worker is asked by the NHS Test and Trace service to self-isolate, you should:

    • not ask them to come into work, and tell them to stay at home for their period of self-isolation
    • continue to communicate with them and provide support
    • allow them to work from home if they remain well and it is practicable to do so, for example, by finding alternative work that can be completed at home

    If a worker cannot work from home, you:

    • must ensure they receive Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) provided they meet the eligibility criteria
    • may consider giving them the option to use their paid leave days if they prefer

    Employees in self-isolation are entitled to SSP for every day they are in isolation, as long as they meet the eligibility conditions.

    You may be able to reclaim SSP. The NHS Test and Trace service will provide evidence to your worker that they have been told to self-isolate. You should ask them to follow the instructions on getting an isolation note if you require evidence. You may need this evidence to reclaim SSP.

    If contacted by NHS Test and Trace, your worker will need to isolate for the full 14 days from when they came into contact with the positive case. They will not be able to leave self-isolation early even if they are not symptomatic, as it can take up to 14 days to develop symptoms.

    They should not take a test if they are not symptomatic as this could generate a false negative and they may then go on to develop symptoms in the following days.

    Multiple outbreaks in the workplace

    If there is more than one case of COVID-19 in a workplace, employers should contact their local health protection team to report the suspected outbreak (find your local health protection team).

    The heath protection team will:

    • undertake a risk assessment
    • provide public health advice
    • where necessary, establish a multi-agency incident management team to manage the outbreak

    Collecting customer and visitor data for NHS Test and Trace

    Businesses should:

    • keep a temporary record of their customers and visitors for 21 days, in a way that is manageable for your business
    • assist NHS Test and Trace with requests for that data if needed

    This could help to contain clusters or outbreaks.

    For more detailed guidance, see Maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors to support NHS Test and Trace.


    20 July

    Are you COVID-secure?

    Many of you have already downloaded our Back in Business Guide, which comes with a Toolkit of useful documents and risk assessments.

    We have added to these risk assessments as more businesses have been allowed to open and the government has published guidelines accordingly.

    The latest risk assessment available is for Grassroots sports, gyms and leisure facilities. However, the government guidance doesn’t cover the actual playing of particular sports (there is some information on swimming pools but not how to actually swim, as well as information on sports halls, but not the sports that may be played in them such as basketball or 5-a-side football), so make sure you check with the individual sport governing bodies on how to play each sport safely. The list of free downloadable Coronavirus risk assessments now includes:

    • Grassroots sports, gyms and leisure facilitiesTool plant hire
    • Retail shops and branches
    • Working in or delivering to peoples homes
    • Working in schools
    • Camp and caravan parks
    • Care homes
    • Construction site works
    • Delivery vehicles
    • Driving range and fishing pegs
    • Factories and warehouses
    • Garages and showrooms
    • Hotels and other guest accommodation
    • Offices
    • Outside working
    • Public houses, restaurants and takeaways
    • Football training
    • Museum café and shop
    • Close contact services
    • Wedding ceremonies

    If the Coronavirus risk assessment you need isn’t included in the above list, please contact your advisor as usual or call 01427 678 660 and one of the team will be happy to help.


    HSE is spot-checking businesses in Bradford – are you ready?

    The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) is conducting spot inspections on businesses in the Bradford area to check that they are COVID-secure. They will be looking to see if the businesses are aware of the Safer Workplace guidance and advising, where necessary, on any improvements needed to ensure the workplaces COVID-secure.

    HSE works with other public local and national government authorities to support the understanding of any patterns they are finding in workplaces in Bradford and other areas. Inspectors are out and about visiting businesses across the city and surrounding areas, putting employers on the spot and checking that they are complying with the latest guidance.

    To be COVID-secure mean businesses need to put in place workplace adjustments, keep up to date with the latest guidance and put measures in place to manage the risk and protect workers and others. There are practical steps that businesses can take to do that:

    • Step 1: carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment
    • Step 2: develop increased cleaning, hand washing and hygiene procedures
    • Step 3: maintain 2m social distancing where possible
    • Step 4: where people cannot be 2m apart, manage transmission risk

    Michael Bone, HSE Head of Operations in Yorkshire said: “Given the number of cases in Bradford, becoming COVID-secure should be the priority for all businesses. We are talking to duty holders and inspecting sites across the city to understand how they are managing risks in line with their specific business activity.

    “Employers have a legal duty to protect workers and others from harm and this includes taking reasonable steps to control the risk and protect people from coronavirus. We encourage businesses to engage their employees in the changes they put in place to become COVID-secure to increase confidence with workers and in turn customers and the local community.”

    As inspections are ongoing, HSE has been utilising a number of different ways to gather intelligence and reach out to businesses across Yorkshire with a combination of site visits, phone calls and through collection of supporting visual evidence.

    Some of the most common issues that HSE and local authority inspectors are finding across the country include:

    • failing to provide arrangements for monitoring, supervising and maintaining social distancing
    • failing to introduce an adequate cleaning regime – particularly at busy times of the day – and providing access to welfare facilities to allow employees to frequently wash their hands with warm water and soap

    HSE will support businesses by providing advice and guidance; however where some employers are not managing the risk, HSE will take action which can range from the provision of specific advice, issuing enforcement notices, stopping certain work practices until they are made safe and, where businesses fail to comply, this could lead to prosecution.

    If you are based in the Bradford area and need help to ensure you are COVID-secure, please contact us on 01427 678 660 to discuss how we can help.


    16 July

    Are you really ready to get back to business?

    As more and more businesses are allowed to open up, it’s important to make sure the premises and working practices are safe. Even if your business is already open (or always has been), it’s good to know what rules and guidance have been put in place by the government, for all types of retail and service industries, from a user’s point of view.

    Our Back in Business Guide comes with a Toolkit of useful documents and risk assessments for lots of sectors, which are being added to all of the time, as and when government guidelines are announced.

    But how do you know if your premises are ready for business?

    In very simple layman terms, look!  Before allowing your employees or customers back into the workplace we would recommend that you carry out a full inspection of your premises. Items to check would include:

    • Gas
    • Water supplies (not just function, but Legionella risk due to standing water)
    • Heating
    • Mechanical and electrical systems (this would include any of your machinery you utilise for your operations)
    • Catering equipment

    Another thing to consider is a deep clean of all areas and surfaces throughout your premises. This is especially important in food preparation areas/kitchens.

    Do not rush the process of ensuring your premises are safe to return to, you need to ensure that you allow sufficient time to carry out all checks and remedial works sufficiently prior to allowing people back into the building.

    Compliance

    In addition to checking your premises are safe, is your equipment? Although the government did allow an extension to PAT Testing deadlines, you now have to ensure that all testing is up to date, especially if equipment has been unused for some time.

    Stallard Kane now offer a Compliance service, which incorporates PAT Test UK, offering a full range of services throughout the UK, including:

    • Portable Appliance Testing
    • Equipment Calibration
    • Fixed Wire Tests & Electrical Condition Reports
    • Fire Alarm System Services & Emergency Light Checks
    • Fire Extinguisher Services
    • Fire Door Audits
    • Legionella Risk Assessment
    • Asbestos Survey
    • Vibration & Noise Assessments
    • And much more

    You don’t have to be a Stallard Kane client to use these services, and great value packages are available. If you’d like to find out more, please visit our Compliance page or email compliance@skaltd.co.uk

    Training

    Again, the government allowed an extension on some training, such as First Aid, but now’s the time to check that everything is up to date. Another thing to consider is if you have enough cover for things such as First Aiders or Fire Marshalls, especially if there have been redundancies or some employees are still on furlough.

    SK Training can help you with your training needs – such as finding and booking courses and creating a training matrix to help you keep on top of it all. 

    There are many courses that can now be completed in a Virtual Classroom format during this crisis, as well as short e-learning courses, accessible through the Members’ Area or via Virtual College.

    To find out more or to discuss your needs, please visit our Training page or email training@skaltd.co.uk


    9 July

    Are you COVID-secure?

    As we informed you in an earlier update, HSE inspectors are now out and about, putting employers on the spot, checking that they are complying with health and safety law. 

    Being ‘COVID-secure’ means being adaptable to the current guidance and putting measures in place to control the risk of coronavirus, to protect workers and others.

    The HSE have outlined five practical steps that businesses can take to do that:

    • Step 1 –carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment in line with HSE guidance
    • Step 2 – develop increased cleaning, hand washing and hygiene procedures
    • Step 3 – take all reasonable steps to help people work from home
    • Step 4 – maintain 2m social distancing where possible
    • Step 5 – where people cannot be 2m apart, manage transmission risk

    Philip White, Director of Regulation at HSE said: “Becoming COVID-secure should be the priority for all businesses. By law, employers have a duty to protect workers and others from harm and this includes taking reasonable steps to control the risk and protect people from coronavirus. It’s important that workers are aware of the measures that will be put in place to help them work safely.

    “Ensuring workplaces are COVID-secure will not only reassure and increase confidence with workers, but also customers, partners and the local community. Nobody wants lockdown measures to be reversed and the Government has made clear that it will not hesitate to do so if the virus is not properly controlled.”

    As inspections are ongoing, HSE has been utilising a number of different ways to gather intelligence and reach out to businesses with a combination of site visits, phone calls and through collection of supporting visual evidence such as photos and video footage.

    Some of the most common issues that HSE and local authority inspectors are finding include: 

    • failing to provide arrangements for monitoring
    • supervising and maintaining social distancing
    • failing to introduce an adequate cleaning regime – particularly at busy times of the day
    • providing access to welfare facilities to allow employees to frequently wash their hands with warm water and soap

    HSE will support businesses by providing advice and guidance; however where some employers are not managing the risk, HSE will take action which can range from the provision of specific advice, issuing enforcement notices, stopping certain work practices until they are made safe and, where businesses fail to comply, this could lead to prosecution.

    Philip continued: “All sectors and business of all sizes are in scope for inspections and we will ask questions of duty holders to understand how they are managing risks. We understand that the vast majority of employers want to make their workplaces secure and are doing everything they can to keep people and their business safe and healthy.

    “Ultimately, becoming COVID-secure benefits the health of our nation; the health of our communities, of businesses and the health of the UK economy. As a nation, we can’t afford not to become COVID-secure.”

    We have produced a ‘Back in Business Guide‘ with a toolkit of documents including a toolbox talk, 1e8 risk assessments and a variety of templates – all free to download.

    Should you need further help or guidance, please do not hesitate to contact your advisor as usual, or call 01427 678 660.


    More help to protect jobs, announced by the government

    Yesterday, the government announced a new scheme to help support businesses who bring employees back off furlough. 

    More details will be announced by the end of the month, but the key points currently are:

    • Employers can receive a one-off payment of £1,000 for each furloughed employee who remains employed until the end of January 2021
    • The employee must earn above £520 per month on average over that period
    • Payments will be made from February 2021 

    The Kickstart Scheme

    This announcement follows on from the other news about the new Kickstart scheme which will help create jobs for young people.

    The fund will subsidise up to six months of work placement for young people on Universal Credit, aged between 16-24. For each Kickstarter job, the government will cover the costs of 25 hours a week at minimum wage for the relevant age up to 24.

    As part of the scheme, the Government will also pay employers £2,000 for every apprentice under the age of 25 they hire and £1,500 for every apprentice over the age of 25, during the next 6 months.

    The scheme will open for applicants in August and is expected to start from the Autumn.


    23 June UPDATE

    In light of this afternoon’s government announcement, we are sending this update to summarise the key points.

    More will follow shortly, and we are currently updating our documents and risk assessments etc, so please keep an eye out on these bulletins for more news on those. 

    We are working hard to help our clients to implement protective measures in order to be able to work safely, so don’t hesitate to contact your advisor as usual for any help or advice. Alternatively, call 01427 678 660 and one of the team will be happy to help.

    23 June 2020: Latest easing of lockdown restrictions

    Most of the changes start from 4th July, but despite the easing of restrictions, it’s still important to follow government guidance and continue with the frequent and thorough hand washing, social distancing where possible, and taking other precautions, such as wearing face coverings, especially in small indoor spaces and on public transport.

    The key changes announced today are as follows:

    1. The 2-metre social distancing rule will be reduced to ‘1 metre-plus’ rule where 2 metres is not possible. Good hygiene and COVID practices should still be followed such as hand washing/sanitising and meeting outdoors where possible. Note this is only in England at present, Wales and Scotland are keeping the 2-metre distance rule. 
    2. Pubs and restaurants can open from July 4th, in a ‘COVID secure’ way (spacing of tables/chairs in line with social distancing rules). However, the names and contact details of customers will need to be obtained in order to comply with the test and trace procedures.
    3. Cafés, hotels, cinemas, museums and galleries can all open from the 4th July but must be ‘COVID secure’ and with reduced capacity.
    4. B&Bs, campsites and caravan parks can open from 4th July but must be ‘COVID secure’.
    5. All locations where people stay (Hotels, B&Bs, Campsites) will have to have new cleaning procedures which include a deep clean between stays.
    6. Hairdressers can open on 4th July but with precautions such as face visors and face coverings for staff.
    7. Outdoor gyms/playgrounds and libraries can all reopen on 4th July.
    8. Indoor swimming pools, gyms, spas and bowling alleys will remain closed for now.
    9. Theatres and concert halls can reopen from 4th July, but only on the basis that they provide no live performances.
    10. Places of worship can re-open for prayer and services and weddings will resume with a maximum of 30 guests.
    11. All primary and secondary schools will restart from September.
    12. People from two households can meet indoors in England from 4th July, but should follow distancing guidelines. This includes being able to stay overnight.
    13. People from two households can meet outdoors with no limit on the number of people present.
    14. When meeting outside, the guidance remains the same that people from several households can meet but only up to groups of six.
    15. Guidance on playing cricket remains the same as before, due to the ball being a potential carrier of the virus.

    Guidance and rules change frequently, so if you’re unsure of anything, please contact your advisor.

    So, which businesses can and can’t open?

    The venues listed as being able to reopen include:

    • Pubs, bars and restaurants (but only with a socially-distanced table service indoors, and owners will be asked to keep contact details of customers to help with contact tracing)
    • Hotels, holiday apartments, campsites and caravan parks (but shared facilities must be cleaned properly)
    • Theatres and music halls (but they will not be allowed to hold live performances)
    • Weddings will be allowed to have 30 attendees
    • Places of worship will be allowed to hold services (but singing will be banned)
    • Hair salons and barbers (but must put protective measures, such as visors, in place)
    • Libraries, community centres and bingo halls
    • Cinemas, museums and galleries
    • Funfairs, theme parks, adventure parks, amusement arcades, skating rinks and model villages
    • Indoor attractions where animals are exhibited, such as at zoos, aquariums, farms, safari parks and wildlife centres

    Businesses that can’t yet open, by law include:

    • Nightclubs and casinos 
    • Bowling alleys and indoor skating rinks 
    • Indoor play areas including soft-play 
    • Spas 
    • Nail bars and beauty salons
    • Massage, tattoo and piercing parlours
    • Indoor fitness and dance studios, and indoor gyms and sports venues/facilities (although Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden tweeted that ministers hope to be able to reopen gyms and leisure facilities in mid-July)
    • Swimming pools and water parks 
    • Exhibition or conference centres (other than for those who work for that venue)

    For further details, please visit the government’s website.


    23 June

    What have we learned from the first few weeks back at school?

    Schools have been working over the last few weeks to start admitting children back into the school setting, with some primary schools already welcoming them back. After speaking with some of these schools, we have put together some key points to help make the transition back into school less daunting.

    Risk Assessments

    • Review all current risk assessments regularly, taking into account any new government guidelines that have been introduced.
    • Ensure all areas of the school are taken into consideration – this includes jobs carried out by the caretaker, reception staff and dinner ladies. Some of these job roles may need individual assessments.
    • Include members of teaching/non-teaching staff in on the reviewing of assessments, as they may have some useful information that may need to be considered moving forward. Not all people carrying out the risk assessments may be aware of all tasks, and some hazards may be overlooked.
    • Ensure all final versions of the assessment are communicated to all staff and acknowledgment received to ensure all staff are aware of procedures being implemented, and that they will play their part in ensuring they are followed.

    Social Distancing

    • Remember to include all personnel in the control measures for the social distancing. Focus will primarily be on the children, but non-teaching roles need to be included.
    • You can use teaching tools for demonstrating 2m as children won’t always recognise how big the distance is. Hula hoops and rulers have been used, along with the PVC mats used for games (apparently the PVC mats are 2m wide).
    • Ensure children are kept in the same social ‘bubble’ of no more than 15 children. Bubbles can work together, play together, have dinner together but they must not mix with any other bubble or share apparatus. The changing of children in bubbles should also be avoided.
    • Staggering drop off and pick up times has reduced the numbers on the school site, along with asking families to try and adhere to one parent per family.
    • Make sure all new measures are communicated to parents and carers, this can be done in a variety of ways, e.g. school website, letters home and text messages.
    • Cones and chalk or spray paint can be used to highlight the distance between parents when collecting children from school on the paths.
    • Use technology to encourage parents to ring, text or email the school instead of popping into the office when dropping off or collecting children.

    Cleaning and Personal Hygiene

    • Ensure all cleaning procedures are documented – if increased cleaning regimes are adopted, then make sure it is clear to everyone who is cleaning where and when. This may need to be documented in a separate cleaning risk assessment.
    • If new cleaning products are to be introduced, then ensure they all have COSHH assessments and are communicated out to all the relevant personnel.
    • Have you got a cleaning procedure in place if someone starts to show signs of infection? How will the room or area be quarantined, cleaned and taken out of use? And by who?
    • Ensure all classrooms and equipment are given a deep clean at the end of each week – some schools have closed earlier on a Friday afternoon to allow this to be carried out.
    • Keep up to date with the government guidance for information which may be added for products found to kill the virus better than others.
    • Have sufficient signs to encourage the frequent washing of hands and try to keep the information age appropriate where possible. Year 6 children are more likely to be able to identify 20 seconds than nursery children. The singing of a nursery rhyme has proven to be useful in the case of younger children (this has been shown to create a lovely sound coming from the toilets).
    • Increase the number of times a day children are encouraged to wash their hands – stress the importance of cleaning hands thoroughly during class discussions.

    Teaching Groups and Pupil Wellbeing

    • Staff availability needs to be constantly monitored – this will encompass whether any employees fall into the vulnerable category or whether they live with anyone who falls into this category. This will also monitor anyone who may start to display symptoms of the COVID-19 virus.
    • The government does state that if you audit your workforce and you do not have a head or deputy head, at least one person with paediatric first aid training, at least one person with designated safeguarding lead training, a special educational needs coordinator available or caretaking/cleaning staff, you should contact your local authority or trust who could potentially help with temporary measures where possible.
    • Keep staffing arrangements consistent daily, keep the same teaching staff with each ‘bubble’ all the time and ensure they move around the school together.
    • It is probably too early at the moment to state whether the current situation has had any significant changes to children’s behaviour. 
    • Schools should have the provision in place to be able to deal with any children or staff who are displaying signs of health or mental health problems.
    • Some children or staff may have experienced bereavement or loss due to the pandemic and may show signs of anxiety. This could lead to children making safeguarding disclosures. Provision should be made to give the individuals the opportunity to speak about this in a safe environment. 

    As more information is gathered and found out about the virus the guidelines will continue to change. For all up to date information about the re-opening of schools visit the GOV.UK website. 

    For more advice and help with risk assessments, please contact your advisor or download the Back to School Guide and Toolkit documents.


    Heavy vehicle testing resumes

    The DVSA have announced that from 4 July, they are restarting testing for heavy vehicles.

    They have issued a 3-month exemption for vehicles due to be tested in June and will issue further exemptions for July tests to help them manage demand as they resume testing.

    How does the exemption work?

    The exemptions will be applied automatically.

    You can use the MOT history service to check the expiry dates for your vehicles.

    In August, vehicles which have already received an exemption will need a test. All other vehicles due for a test in August will receive a 3-month exemption. When those exemptions expire, vehicles will need to be brought in for test.

    Which vehicles will be due for tests, when?

    • If your MOT was due in March 2020 your vehicle must pass its MOT by 30 September 2020 (your vehicle has already been given two 3-month exemptions)
    • If your MOT was due in April 2020 your vehicle must pass its MOT by 31 October 2020 (your vehicle has already been given two 3-month exemptions)
    • If your MOT was due in May 2020 your vehicle must pass its MOT by 31 August 2020 (your vehicle will get one 3-month exemption)
    • If your MOT is due in June 2020 your vehicle must pass its MOT by 30 September 2020 (your vehicle will get one 3-month exemption)
    • If your MOT is due in July 2020 your vehicle must pass its MOT by 31 October 2020 (your vehicle will get one 3-month exemption)
    • If your MOT is due in August 2020 your vehicle must pass its MOT by 30 November 2020 (your vehicle will get one 3-month exemption)

    Can I get my vehicle tested?

    The DVSA are working with ATFs to resume testing from 4 July and will be increasing the availability of testers over the coming months, in line with social distancing and the latest Government guidance.

    ADR inspections will also be available from 4 July. Vehicle operators carrying dangerous goods who do not book an annual test should apply for a waiver, if they want their annual test and ADR inspection expiry dates to occur at the same time.



    19 June

    Would you be prepared for a HSE spot check?

    The HSE are currently making phone spot checks on companies, to check they are following government guidelines with regards to the coronavirus crisis.

    One of our clients received one such call and some of the questions asked were:

    1. What measure are in place across your sites?
    2. What guidelines are you following?
    3. Have you briefed your staff on the changes?
    4. Are you able to maintain 2m social distancing? 
    5. What cleaning routines are in place for useable services, doors etc?
    6. What would you instruct an employee who had symptoms to do?
    7. Do you have a risk assessment? Has this been briefed and understood by all staff members?  

    Our client was able to answer the above questions satisfactorily, mostly due to having carried out the appropriate Coronavirus risk assessments supplied by us. These are all available in the free Toolkit on the Back in Business page on our website.

    We would expect that if the HSE ends up doing a follow up visit, they’ll expect to see the arrangements in place, with signage, instructions, floor markings etc and will no doubt ask employees if they understand their responsibilities.

    It’s also likely that any visit wouldn’t stop at checking COVID-19 arrangements, so don’t forget to ensure everything else is in order, such as ‘thorough examination’ certificates etc.

    As ever, if you need any help regarding the above, please contact your advisor.


    COVID-19 in construction – a Toolbox Talk

    A lot of construction work has continued during lockdown, but as more people go back to work, it’s important to ensure sites and employees are ready for the necessary changes that have had to be implemented due to the pandemic.

    Our Senior Health & Safety Advisor, Chris Bartley, has produced a Toolbox Talk video for the construction industry, covering government guidance, but also drawing on his recent experiences carrying out site visits and speaking to clients.

    You can view the video, and others, on our new YouTube Channel

    Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – a timeline

    Following a raft of announcements from the Chancellor on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, we have set out below an easy to follow timeline to keep up to date with the changes. 

    Currently, employers are only entitled to receive payments from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for their furloughed employees providing they don’t undertake work for their employer. 

    • From 1st July 2020, the scheme is being phased out gradually. 
    • Employers will be asked to start contributing towards the cost of their furloughed employees’ wages. 
    • The CJRS will introduce more flexibility for employees to start undertaking work for their employer. The aim of flexible furlough is to reduce the need for immediate redundancies by continuing to support businesses over the next few months while lockdown restrictions ease, and more people can return to work. 

    The following changes to the furlough scheme are being implemented in the forthcoming months:

    June 2020

    No changes are being made. Furloughed employees must not undertake any work for their employer.

    30th June: Coronavirus Job Retention scheme closed to new entrants. Any new employees should have been placed on furlough by 10th June to ensure they get the minimum 3 week period in before 30th June. The only exception here being employees who have been on Maternity/Paternity leave. 

    July 2020

    1st July 2020:

    • Employees can work part time for their employer, for any number of time/hours the employer requires and be furloughed for the time/hours not worked.
    • This is called being ‘flexibly furloughed‘. The employer will pay for the hours worked, and then the claim for the CJRS will be for the hours not worked.
    • 80% of pay, National Insurance and pension contributions will be funded by the scheme up to £2,500 per month.
    • Employees can be brought on and off flexible furlough more than once. Therefore, employees do not have to be flexibly furloughed for a minimum of 3 weeks. 
    • Employees must not work for their employer during the time they are furloughed during the flexible furlough scheme. 
    • A claim period must be a full calendar month from 1st July 2020, to reflect the changes being made to the scheme each month thereafter.
    • The number of employees furloughed in the claim period up to 30th June 2020 cannot be exceeded in any further claim periods (not including those returning from family-related leave). 

    31st July: Deadline for employers claiming under the CJRS for the claim period ending 30th June 2020.

    August 2020 

    1st August: 

    • Now, employers must pay the National Insurance and Pension Contributions for their employees who are furloughed. 
    • The scheme will still fund 80% pay up to £2,500 a month. 
    • Any hours worked by the employee on flexible furlough must be paid by the employer.

    September 2020

    1st September:

    • Furloughed employees must still receive 80% of their wages, up to £2,500, but the scheme will now only fund 70% of this up to £2,187.50. 
    • Therefore, the employer must top up the extra 10% pay, and pay National Insurance and Pension Contributions. Any hours worked by the employee on flexible furlough must be paid by the employer. 
    • Employees on furlough are still entitled to 80% pay up to £2,500 but the scheme will now only pay for 60% up to £1,875. 
    • Therefore, the employer must top up the remaining 20% plus National Insurance and Pension Contributions. 
    • Employers will have to pay their employees for any hours worked. 

    October 2020

    31st October: The CJRS ends. Employers will receive no further government funding for employees who are affected as a result of the pandemic.



    17 June

    Important information to be aware of before claiming under the flexible furlough scheme

    Please be aware that claim periods starting on or after 1 July must start and end within the same calendar month and must last at least 7 days unless you’re claiming for the first few days or the last few days in a month.

    You can only claim for a period of fewer than 7 days if the period you are claiming for includes either the first or last day of the calendar month, and you have already claimed for the period ending immediately before it. 

    For example, you couldn’t submit your first claim for a single 1 week period between 29 July 2020 and 4 August 2020.

    Please also be aware you should match your claim period to the dates you process your payroll, if you can. You can only make one claim for any period so you must include all your furloughed or flexibly furloughed employees in one claim, even if you pay them at different times. If you make more than one claim, your subsequent claim cannot overlap with any other claim that you make. Where employees have been furloughed or flexibly furloughed continuously (or both), the claim periods must follow on from each other with no gaps inbetween the dates.

    You can claim before, during or after you process your payroll; you can usually make your claim up to 14 days before your claim period end date and you do not have to wait until the end of a claim period to make your next claim. Claims for periods after 30 June can be made from 1 July.

    When claiming for employees who are flexibly furloughed you should not claim until you are sure of the exact number of hours they will have worked during the claim period. This means that you should claim when you have certainty about the number of hours your employees are working during the claim period. If you claim in advance and your employee works for more hours than you have told us about, then you will have to pay some of the grant back to HMRC.

    Payments will be made 6 working days after you make your claim.

     

    Bringing lifts back into use after lockdown

    The Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) has published a short guidance document advising businesses how to deal with recommissioning their lifts as buildings are brought back into use.

    If the lift was unused the CIBSE advises that a specialist lift maintenance contractor carries out a service for any lift which was isolated from its power source.  It states that hydraulic mechanisms in particular are likely to have deteriorated through lack of use.  You’ll also need to ensure that the lift’s certification for thorough examination, which is required by the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998, is up to date.

    Due to social distancing requirements, you will need to review the capacity of lifts.  Government guidance suggests marking out spaces that require the occupants to look away from each other.  If the lift is too small for this, you may have to consider restricting the number of occupants at one time.  You will need to display a notice to this effect.  You’ll also need to ensure that frequently touched surfaces, including the lift buttons are cleaned regularly.  Check with the lift maintenance contractor which products are safe to use without causing damage.


    15 June

    Flexible furlough leave from 1st July

    As promised, the Government released further guidance on Friday 12th June on the Flexible furlough scheme that will be available for use from 1st July.

    As we already know, the scheme will be closed for any new entrants (those who have not already served 3 weeks on furlough) on 30th June, except in the cases of parents returning from Maternity and Paternity leave.

    Up until 1st July, employees cannot undertake any work whilst they are on furlough. However, from the 1st July this will change:

    • Employers will be able to flexibly furlough employees who have previously been furloughed for up to 3 weeks
    • Employers will be able to bring employees back to work for any amount of time or any working pattern
    • Employers will still be able to claim for the hours not worked that the employee would usually work 
    • Employers do not have to take all employees off permanent furlough, so therefore could have some employees remaining on furlough and some on flexible furlough to help meet the needs of the business

    In order to flexible furlough employees, employers will need to seek the agreement of employees and should keep a written record of the flexible furloughing agreement.

    Employers should ensure that the agreement is kept on record for up to 5 years, as well as ensuring that a record of all hours worked are kept on file for up to 6 years.

    How to calculate flexible furlough pay

    The HMRC calculator will help calculate an employee’s furloughed pay, however, as an example, for an employee who works 40 hours a week over a 5 day period on a fixed rate of pay of £3,000 per month, if the company were to bring that employee back into work for July on half days (4 hours a day) the calculation would be as follows:

    1. The number of hours the employee was contracted for at the end of the last pay period ending on or before 19th March 2020: here 40
    2. Divide by the number of calendar days in the repeat working pattern: here 7 
    3. Multiple the number of days in that pay period, in July 31: 40/7 x 31 =177.14 rounded up to 178 

    You will then need to calculate the number of working hours and furloughed hours.

    1. The number of working hours in that period, 23 days at 4 hours a day: 23 x 4 = 92 hours
    2. The usual working hours (178) minus the numbers of hours worked (92) 178 – 92 = 86 furloughed hours 

    You will then need to calculate the maximum wage entitlement. Here this is £3,000 x .80 = £2,400 (the cap here is £2,500)

    1. £2,400 multiple by the furloughed hours (86) 2,400 x 86 = 206400
    2. Then divide that number by the number of hours usually worked = 206400/ 178 = £1159.56

    This will give you the amount the company can claim for furlough pay. From 1st July until 1st August, the employer will also be able to claim for the employer’s NIC costs.

    Full guidance on how to calculate this can be found on the government’s website


    Driver access to toilet and hand washing facilities

    With more businesses and retail outlets opening up again from today, there will be a further increase in deliveries. Therefore, it’s important to remember that you must allow delivery drivers access to toilet and hand washing facilities.

    HSE has jointly written an open letter with the Department for Transport, to remind employers of their obligations to provide suitable toilet and hand washing facilities for drivers visiting their premises…

    To whom it may concern

    Access to hygiene facilities for drivers

    This letter has been produced by the Department for Transport and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), to reassure drivers, and to remind businesses of their obligations under the 
    Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, to provide suitable toilet and hand washing facilities to divers visiting their premises.

    Businesses which make or receive deliveries, should ensure that drivers have easy and safe access to toilets and hand washing facilities to support their health and wellbeing whilst carrying out their important work, which supports the economy.

    Preventing access is against the law.Regulations 20 and 21 state that suitable and sufficient sanitary conveniences and washing facilities shall be provided at readily accessible places and that hot and cold running water and soap must be available to use. Whilst this obligation for business is not new, ensuring that hygiene facilities are made available to visiting drivers is especially important during the current COVID-19 crisis, to avoid unwanted public health implications and to help tackle the spread of the virus, at a time when there are fewer locations operating with facilities that drivers can access.

    HSE guidance states that drivers must have access to welfare facilities located in the premises they visit as part of their work. The responsibility in law to provide access rests with the person in control of the premises.

    You can obtain more information on infection control by contacting: 
    Public Health England
    Public Health Wales
    Health Protection Scotland



    10 June

    Chris Bartley, our Senior Health & Safety Advisor, has produced a 7 minute video on the measures we can all take to keep our employees and visitors safe as we begin the process of returning to work.

    There’s more advice and useful documents, including risk assessments for a broad range of sectors, on our Back in Business page.

    For more videos, visit our new YouTube channel.


    3 June

    Guidance on the use of face masks

    We all know that the use of face masks is one way that we can help reduce the transmission of COVID-19, and many of us will need to wear one over the coming weeks, whether it be at work or just out and about.

    There are lots of different types of face masks and coverings available, so our Senior Health & Safety Advisor, Chris Bartley, has recorded a short video to demonstrate some of them and how to fit them, to ensure they’re as effective as possible. This is not, however, a substitute for Face Fit Testing, which should be carried out as usual – please speak to your advisor should you need further assistance with this.


    Holidays whilst on Furlough

    As the vast majority of companies start to take their first steps back into the workplace, or are planning to over the next couple of weeks, questions are now being asked about the holiday entitlement that has accrued during an employee being a ‘furloughed worker’. 

    Although the government passed legislation to say that those employees who have been unable to take their annual leave entitlement due to the COVID-19 outbreak can carry over up to 4 weeks leave for the next two leave years, it has also been clarified that employees can take holiday during a period of furlough. 

    Furthermore, employers can impose a period of holiday during the furlough period. In order to do this, ordinarily employers should give employees double the amount of notice of the required number of days holiday they will require the employee to take. As long as this stipulation is complied with, Companies can impose a period of holiday during the furlough period. 

    Employees should receive their full rate of pay for any period of holiday. During furlough, the Company would be able to continue to claim 80% through the Job Retention Scheme and would have to top up the remaining 20%, so the employee receives full pay for the period of holiday. This will not affect the continuous furlough period. We have developed a template ‘Imposing a period of Holiday during furlough’ letter that can be used for this purpose.

    This means that those on furlough that have had the opportunity to take their holidays during the current holiday year, but have failed to do so, as long as they have had that opportunity, Companies will not have to carry these over to the following two years. It is worth companies advising furloughed employees of this fact and give them the opportunity to get their holidays in accordingly.

    Using air conditioning

    HSE have advised that the risks of air conditioning spreading the COVID-19 virus are minimal. However, good ventilation is important, so it’s worth reviewing and, if need be, changing the way you use your air conditioning during this crisis. 

    The general advice is to supply as much outside air as reasonably possible. The key aspect is the amount of fresh air supplied per person – if, due to smart working utilisation, the number of employees is reduced, do not concentrate the remaining employees in smaller areas, but maintain or enlarge the social distancing (min physical distance 2m between persons) among them in order to foster the ventilation cleaning effect. 

    We have listed below some other key points to consider: 

    • If you use a centralised ventilation system that removes and circulates air to different rooms, it is recommended that you turn off recirculation and use a fresh air supply, as virus particles in return ducts can re-enter a building
    • In buildings with mechanical ventilation systems, extended operation times are recommended – change the clock times of system timers to start ventilation at nominal speed at least 2 hours before the building usage time and switch to lower speed 2 hours after the building usage time
    • Or, keep the ventilation on 24/7, with lowered (but not switched off) ventilation rates when people are absent
    • In buildings that have been vacated due to the pandemic (some offices or educational buildings) it is not recommended to switch ventilation off, but to operate continuously at reduced speed
    • For controlled ventilation systems, change CO2 setpoint to lower, 400 ppm value, in order to assure the operation at nominal speed
    • In buildings without mechanical ventilation systems it is recommended to actively use operable windows – open windows for 15 min or so when entering the room (especially when the room was occupied by others beforehand)
    • Exhaust ventilation systems of toilets should always be kept on 24/7, and make sure that under pressure is created, to avoid the faecal-oral transmission
    • Open windows in toilets with passive stack or mechanical exhaust systems may cause a contaminated airflow from the toilet to other rooms, implying that ventilation begins to work in reverse direction. Open toilet windows then should be avoided. If there is no adequate exhaust ventilation from toilets and window airing in toilets cannot be avoided, it is important to keep windows open also in other spaces in order to achieve cross flows throughout the building

    For further guidance, please see the Federation of European Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Association’s REHVA COVID-19 guidance document

    DVSA Test Exemptions

    The DVSA recently sent an alert concerning heavy vehicles due for their annual test in June, but it did not clarify the period of the test exemption.

    Vehicles due for test in June will receive a three month exemption from needing an annual test – this applies to vehicles which received a three month exemption in March, as well as those with a due date normally in June.


    COVID-19: Redundancies webinar

    COVID 19 Redundancies Webinar

    At 10.00am on Thursday 4th June, we will be hosting our latest webinar, aimed at businesses who may be considering making redundancies due to the knock-on effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Our experienced Employment Law advisors will provide practical and commercial advice on the redundancy process and the pitfalls to be wary of in order to navigate these difficult times.

    Register for this webinar today and view previous webinars on the Webinars page of our website



    1 June

    COVID 19 Redundancies Webinar

    COVID-19: Redundancies – the after effect of a pandemic Webinar

    Thursday 4th June at 10.00am

    As organisations prepare for life after lockdown and new ways of working, the harsh reality is that some businesses will have to make cutbacks in order to survive. 

    Our latest webinar is aimed at businesses who may be considering making redundancies due to the knock-on effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Our experienced Employment Law advisors will provide practical and commercial advice on the redundancy process and the pitfalls to be wary of in order to navigate these difficult times.

    This webinar forms part of our Coronavirus and Back in Business information, which includes guides, updates and useful documents – all available on this website.

    Register for this webinar today and view previous webinars on the Webinars page.


    Important updates to the furlough scheme – including imminent deadlines

    As you may be aware, last week, Rishi Sunak provided further details on the upcoming changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough).

    With effect from 1 July 2020, furlough will become more flexible, allowing furloughed employees to be able to work on a part time basis. This will require employers to pay their normal rate of pay for any hours worked – further advice on how to calculate what you can reclaim in this situation will be released on 12 June 2020. 

    The Chancellor also announced that employers will begin to contribute as detailed below:

    June & July

    • The government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500. 
    • The government will pay Employer National Insurance (ER NICS) and pension contributions.
    • Employers are not required to pay anything.

    August

    • The government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500. 
    • Employers will pay Employer National Insurance (ER NICS) and pension contributions (for the average claim, this represents 5% of the gross employment costs the employer would have incurred had the employee not been furloughed).

    September

    • The government will pay 70% of wages up to a cap of £2,187.50.
    • Employers will pay 10% of wages to make up to 80% total, up to a cap of £2,500.
    • Employers will pay Employer National Insurance (ER NICS) and pension contributions (combined with the 10% above, for the average claim this represents 14% of the gross employment costs the employer would have incurred had the employee not been furloughed).

    October

    • The government will pay 60% of wages up to a cap of £1,875.00.
    • Employers will pay 20% of wages to make up to 80% total, up to a cap of £2,500.
    • Employers will pay Employer National Insurance (ER NICS) and pension contributions (combined with the 20% above, for the average claim this represents 23% of the gross employment costs the employer would have incurred had the employee not been furloughed).

    Employers will be required to submit data on the usual hours an employee would be expected to work in a claim period and actual hours worked.

    Please also be aware that the deadline for adding an employee to furlough will be 10 June 2020 to allow a minimum period of 3 weeks to be completed in time for the new scheme beginning on 1 July 2020.

    Upon receiving the further guidance on calculations, expected to be released on 12 June 2020, we will provide an updated letter template enabling you to obtain employee consent to the flexible furloughing arrangement.

    A fact sheet, along with full guidance can be found on the government’s website


    HSE resumes site inspections as low enforcement figures revealed

    The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has announced it is restarting “proactive” inspections of construction sites.

    The move follows a government announcement of more cash for the organisation and prime minister Boris Johnson promising the body would carry out “spot inspections” to make sure businesses were safe places to work.

    The safety watchdog stopped carrying out routine inspections after the lockdown announcement in March, despite sectors such as construction continuing to operate.

    In early April, the organisation warned it would take action over sites and issue fines for non-compliance with social-distancing measures, however it has not yet sanctioned any firms.

    Between 9 March and 7 May, the watchdog received 4,813 reports about workplace issues relating to coronavirus, with 16.7 per cent of those relating to the construction industry.

    Chief executive Sarah Albon told a committee of MPs that many of the calls received were from members of the public in England, reporting work was being carried out on building sites in the mistaken belief that they were not allowed to operate.

    No enforcement notices relating to coronavirus have been issued by the watchdog, but a spokesman insisted that on “many occasions” after it started looking into complaints, firms took action that meant enforcement notices were not needed. These included the firms demonstrating they were in fact complying with appropriate rules when inspected, that measures had been taken to improve standards since the complaint, or that the companies had suspended their business before any action could be taken against them.

    The HSE spokesman also told Construction News that there had been 198 RIDDOR reports of dangerous occurrences and 71 fatal-disease reports relating to COVID-19 across all industries in the period.

    The PM told the House of Commons: “We are going to insist that businesses across this country look after their workers and are COVID-secure and COVID-compliant. The Health and Safety Executive will be enforcing that, and we will have spot inspections to make sure that businesses are keeping their employees safe. It will, of course, be open to employees who do not feel safe to raise that with not just their employers but the HSE as well.”



    26 May

    COVID-19: Back to School Guide

    We have developed a COVID-19 Back to School guide, to allow you to think about some of the key areas that you will need to take into consideration before the re-opening of your school to a larger number of students and employees. 

    The guide covers a wide variety of health and safety and HR topics, including:

    • How to prepare for re-opening
    • Making the workplace safe
    • Controlling access to your site
    • Welfare and school canteen facilities
    • PPE
    • Teaching groups
    • Wellbeing and mental health
    • Staff management
    • The Job Retention Scheme and furloughing employees

    It is complemented by a ‘toolkit’ of useful documents including:

    • Coronavirus Toolbox Talk
    • Re-opening the School Inspection Sheet
    • Wellbeing questionnaire for primary school students returning to school
    • Wellbeing questionnaire for secondary school students returning to school
    • COVID-19 Screen questionnaire
    • Working in schools Coronavirus Risk Assessment

    The guide and toolkit are available to download on our Back in Business page


    21 May

    As the pandemic continues, so the needs of businesses and advice given changes. In today’s update we look at First Aid during the crisis, as well as driving advice.

    COVID-19 First Aid advice

    We have put together some general guidance on how and when to manage and administer first aid during the crisis, from various sources, including HSE, PHE and Resuscitation Council UK.*  

    Arrangements

    • Having a reduced number of first aiders is acceptable if there is a reduced number of staff in the workplace because of the pandemic
    • It is acceptable to share cover with other businesses under certain stipulations/practicalities
    • Extension periods have been granted for refresher training

    When administering first aid

    Assisting from a distance

    • The vast majority of incidents do not involve getting close to an injured person (where they would come into contact with cough droplets etc. i.e. inside 2m)
    • If you can assist from a distance, most first aid is very simple and the steps to take in an emergency can be described or explained to an injured or ill person so they can help themselves. For example, if they are bleeding heavily, you can ask them to apply pressure to the wound with whatever they have available while you call 999.

    If cannot assist from a distance due to the nature of the injury/incident

    • In this case, it is extremely important to administer first aid – if someone is so badly injured or ill that they are unable to help themselves it is even more important that first aiders step in and try to help. For example, not helping someone who is not responsive or not breathing will dramatically reduce their chance of survival, but the risks to the first aider are very low, especially if good hygiene practices are followed.
    • If you are concerned that the person may have an infection (which let’s be honest, we don’t know unless they are already showing symptoms or they have been tested!), wherever possible, place the person in a location away from others. If there is not a physically separate room, ask others who are not involved in providing assistance to stay at least 2 metres away from the individual. If barriers or screens are available, these may be used.

    General

    • Be aware of cross contamination
    • Observe hygiene guidance as per government guidance before and after treating an injured person (obviously don’t cough or sneeze on them!)
    • Wear gloves or cover hands when dealing with open wounds
    • Cover cuts and grazes on your hands with waterproof dressing
    • Dispose of all waste safely
    • Do not touch a wound with your bare hand
    • Do not touch any part of a dressing that will come in contact with a wound

    CPR

    • Check if they need CPR by looking for absence of signs of life and normal breathing
    • Do not listen or feel for breathing by placing your ear and cheek close to the person’s mouth. If you are unsure, assume they are absent
    • Call 999 as soon as possible
    • If a coronavirus infection is suspected, tell them when you call 999
    • Give chest compressions: push firmly downwards in the middle of the chest and then release
    • If you think there is a risk of infection, you should attempt compression only CPR and, if available, use an Automated External Defibrillator (AED). Continue until the ambulance arrives
    • Wear a face mask, disposable gloves and eye protection if available. If you decide to perform rescue breaths on someone who is not breathing, use a resuscitation face shield where available
    • Wash your hands
    • After performing compression-only CPR, you should wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water (alcohol-based hand gel can be used if this isn’t available). You should also seek advice from the NHS 111 coronavirus advice service
    • If treating a baby or child, the importance of calling an ambulance and taking immediate action cannot be stressed highly enough (it is likely that you may know the patient already and we accept that doing rescue breaths will increase the risk of transmitting the coronavirus, either to the rescuer or the child, but the risk is small compared to the risk of taking no action)

    Important notes

    • If you are a first aider and need to call an ambulance or take the injured person to A&E yourself, but they don’t want to go for fear of being infected, try to keep them calm and explain the need for hospital treatment. If possible, ask the 999 handler or paramedics to speak to them. This, however, should all be documented as part of recording requirements and, if necessary, included in any RIDDOR or investigation
    • Schools must have at least one trained paediatric first aider on site in order to operate

    *The first aid advice within this update is for guidance purposes only and is not a substitute for formal training or procedure. To administer first aid or CPR, you must have the necessary skill, knowledge, experience and training.


    Take extra care on the roads

    England’s roads are becoming busier as people begin to return to the roads.

    Commercial drivers are being advised to take extra care and remember, many drivers on England’s roads have not used their vehicles since the lockdown.

    Key advice
    If you are a lorry, bus or coach driver you should continue to:

    • stay alert to those around you, especially in blind spots
    • carry out your walkaround checks to ensure your vehicle is roadworthy
    • check the position of mirrors
    • make sure your loads are secure
    • follow the Highway Code advice for your type of vehicle

    It is in everyone’s interest to keep the roads as safe as possible over the coming days and weeks.

    Thank you for your vital work keeping the country fed and supplied, or ensuring those who cannot work from home get to their workplaces.

    Source: Driver & Vehicles Standards Agency


    18 May

    Mental Health Awareness Week 2020

    Every May, The Mental Health Foundation campaigns around an issue for Mental Health Awareness Week. This year’s theme is ‘kindness’,
    which is a key part of mental wellbeing – being kind to yourself, and others.

    The guide includes topics such as:

    Focussing on wellbeing is increasingly important, so, we have produced a guide to help – not only during the current crisis, but in the future, however that may look.

    • Working from home
    • Returning to work
    • Managing stress
    • Useful resources
    • Virtual learning
    • Mental Health First Aiders
    • Personal Wellbeing and Mental Health
    • And a personal ‘coping with lockdown’ story from our very own Training manager, Faye

    12 May

    Extension of the Job Retention Scheme

    Chancellor Rishi Sunak has today announced the extension of the Job Retention Scheme to the end of October.

    The current scheme was to run until the end of June, but the change has been introduced to give extra support to companies who can’t get straight back to their usual level of business, because of the pandemic.

    The essence of the scheme is the same, but the changes aim to give employers more flexibility – rather than stay at home, furloughed workers may now be brought back to work part-time. They will continue to receive 80% of their usual wage (up to £2,500), but employers will now be expected to pay a share of the costs from August.

    “As we reopen the economy we will need to support people back to work,” the Chancellor told MPs.

    Details of how much employers will have to pay are still being worked out, but there is speculation that the government’s contribution will reduce to 60%, from 80%. 

    The government are also exploring ways that furloughed workers could use their time for training or to learn new skills. Currently, furloughed employees are not allowed to undertake any training that could potentially profit the company they work for.

    Mr Sunak concluded by telling the Commons: “Full details will follow by the end of May, but I want to assure people today of one thing that won’t change.

    “Workers will through the combined efforts of Government and employers continue to receive the same level of overall support as they do now at 80% of their current salary up to £2,500 a month.

    “I’m extending the scheme because I won’t give up on the people who rely on it.

    “Our message today is simple: we stood behind Britain’s workers and businesses as we came into this crisis, and we will stand behind them as we come through the other side.”

    5 May

    COVID-19 Webinar – more spaces now available!

    Tomorrow’s COVID-19: Managing a Pandemic webinar was fully subscribed, but we’ve now increased the audience capacity.

    So, if you had missed out, you can now register here.

    The webinar will also be available to view on our website in the coming days, along with a list of any questions asked.

    We’d like to thank everyone for their interest and we’re looking forward to it.

    We will be hosting more webinars in the future, so please keep an eye out on these updates for details on how to register and be alerted.


    Returning to work

    According to recent news reports, the government is planning to issue guidance on how the country can safely return to work. Alok Sharma, Business Secretary, is aiming to produce around 10 papers setting out in detail how we all can do this, once the lockdown is eased.

    It’s likely that outdoor sectors will see restrictions eased first, with hospitality businesses being last. We will, of course, keep you updated with any news regarding this.

    On our website and in yesterday’s email update, we included some important guidance on measures to be taken to ensure you keep your employees safe, once this happens, but there may be some HR issues to deal with during the transition period. Some questions we’ve recently been asked are included below:

    Q:     If an employee has been furloughed for three weeks, do they then have to be furloughed for another three weeks in order to make another claim?

    A:      Employees have to be furloughed for a minimum of 3 weeks in order for the Company to be able to make a claim for the grant. However, as long as an employee has been furloughed for at least 3 weeks, any time after that they would be able to return to work and the company would be eligible to claim, therefore employees can be furlough for 3, 4 or 5 weeks etc.

    If employees return to work and are then placed on furlough again, each period of furlough should be at least 3 weeks in order for eligibility under the claim.

    Q:     If we have furloughed some employees, but retained others from the same team, if a retained employee goes off short term sick, can we bring a furloughed employee back to cover them (even if just for a day) and, if so, how would that affect our payment claim?

     A:     The government have advised that the Furlough scheme is not there to support short term sickness absence, however, if you have furloughed some employees and one who remained at work went off sick, if you had to take one employee off furlough, if they have not been furloughed for 3 weeks straight, then they will not be eligible for the grant under the scheme. The Company will be liable to pay the employee 80% of their normal wage for the time their furlough started and ended, and they will not be able to claim this back through the job retention scheme.

    If the employee had been on furlough for at least 3 weeks, the company could take that individual off furlough and claim through the scheme up until the date that that period of furlough ended.

    Q:     If there’s a BH during someone’s furlough leave, does that still count as a day’s holiday taken?

    A:      Yes, Bank Holidays can still be taken as part of a Furlough period, the Company will still be able to claim for 80% of the employee’s wage for that day, however as it is a day’s holiday, any bank holidays used from an individual’s holiday entitlement should be topped up to 100% of their normal wage for that day by the company.

    Q:     When everyone’s back to work as normal, how should we handle holiday requests to avoid tension. Should we prioritise those who weren’t furloughed? Bearing in mind that restrictions may be lifted during the summer months and non-furloughed employees may well be desperate for some time off?

    A:      The Government introduced legislation following the COVID-19 outbreak which allows employees who have been unable to take their statutory annual leave entitlement in any given holiday year, because the business has been unable to allow holidays during that period, to carry over up to four weeks unused leave for the next two holiday years. There is no provision to allow employees to carry over holiday entitlement, where they have had the opportunity to book holiday and have failed to do so.

    When all employees are back to work, employers should handle holiday requests in a fair and consistent way, balancing the needs of employees to take their holiday entitlement and the need for the business to meet the requirements of its clients.

    Employers should review their holiday policy for the remainder of the year and share this with its staff so all employees know what the rules and expectations are in regards to holiday requests for the rest of the year. It may be that employers only allow a maximum of 1 week’s leave per employee during a certain period, for example the summer months, to give all employees the opportunity to book a holiday during that time. Remember, any unused holiday up to 4 weeks can be carried over until the next two holiday years (if an employee wasn’t able to take holiday due to business reasons).


    Coronavirus testing procedure

    Many more people are eligible for testing now, and we have a first person account of the procedure at a drive through testing facility.

    Here’s what you can expect:

    • Although you will have an appointed time for your test, be prepared for delays. Some sites are still relatively new and there will, of course, be some teething problems (and possibly a bit of road rage, with other attendees getting impatient!)
    • Also, expect the testing procedure to take longer than the advertised 15 minutes, to take into account admin time etc
    • You will likely be expected to administer the test yourself, in your car – you will be given detailed instructions on how to do this.
    • There are four steps to the test:
    1. Register your kit (if required)
    2. Take a swab sample from your throat and nose
    3. Hand in your sample
    4. Receive your test results by text message or email (usually within 5 days)
    • You must clean your hands thoroughly before administering the test
    • Tests should not be used on the under 5s
    • If there is more than one person in the car completing tests, all steps will need to be done separately for each person

    If you would like more details about the testing process, please contact your advisor as usual.


    Calling future architects!

    Do you need something new to keep the children occupied?

    Foster + Partners have released a series of resources to help children learn more about architecture and take more notice of their surroundings – which could make for some different conversations on your daily exercise walks.

    Published resources so far include:

    Foster + Partners encourage you to share your creations on social media with the hashtag #architecturefromhome


    4 May

    Keeping safe when returning to work

    Some businesses are starting to look at returning to work in the not too distant future, especially taking into consideration the government’s impending announcement on Sunday. For this to be done safely, there are certain points that need to be addressed.

    Workplace Risk Assessment

    Before work recommences, a risk assessment should be carried out. This is a vital tool to justify your decisions and actions as a business. Some of the points to assess are:

    • Biology of the virus and how it may be transmitted/spread
    • Identify activities and locations where transmission is increased
    • Apply the hierarchy of control to develop a control strategy

    Once the risk assessment has been completed, it should be made available for all employees to read and sign to acknowledge their understanding.

    Workplace Arrangements

    Screening
    Before returning to work all employees should complete a screening questionnaire (see our guide template SK-COVID-19-Screen-Questionnaire in ‘Useful Documents’ above) to address any possible exposure to the virus, such as personal symptoms or living with someone who has shown symptoms of COVID-19 or received a confirmed diagnosis. Employees where exposure or symptoms are showing should not return to work, but remain at home and continue to isolate.

    Signage
    Signs should be visible in all areas of the workplace highlighting social distancing rules, stop signs, don’t touch unless necessary etc.

    Put procedures in place to keep employees updated with any changes that are happening, and why. If possible, include representatives from the workforce in meetings where changes are being discussed and implemented.

    Controlling access to the workplace

    • Where possible, take fingerprint scanners and keypads out of use completely and use another method of recording attendance
    • Where possible restrict or stop all visits to the workplace unless they are an employee
    • Install barriers or floor markings to ensure social distancing while waiting to enter/exit the workplace
    • Plastic screens should be used to avoid face to face contact

    Controlling the numbers on site

    Where possible reduce the numbers of employees in the workplace at any one time. This can be done in a few ways such as:

    • Introduce a shift system to reduce numbers of workers at any one time
    • Implement a temporary night shift to alternate staff between days and nights
    • Reduce the numbers in teams, and desks to an office as a temporary arrangement

    Welfare and canteen facilities

    There are various factors to consider and ways to control the use of welfare facilities. These include:

    • Reducing the number of staff in the canteens by introducing staggered dinner breaks
    • Taking alternate chairs out of use to eliminate face to face contact and ensure social distancing while eating
    • Providing hand gels and sprays for wiping down communal items such as microwaves, kettles etc
    • Using small toilet facilities as a ‘one in, one out’ basis and putting a sign on the outside of the door to show ‘in use’
    • Larger toilet blocks can have every other cubicle/urinal taken out of use to ensure social distancing while using the facility
    • Ensure posters highlighting the importance of the thorough washing of hands are displayed

    Cleaning procedures

    A more frequent and robust cleaning regime must be implemented to ensure all areas of the workplace are regularly cleaned and completed to a high standard. This should include all areas which may not usually be part of the daily cleaning regime, including:

    • handrails on stairs
    • door handles
    • PCs
    • printers
    • telephones etc.

    Cleaning products should be sourced for ‘anti-viral’ cleaning as Covid is a virus not a bacterium.

    PPE

    PPE should be addressed as a last form of protection as we have been informed that the frequent washing of hands for the recommended 20 seconds is the best way of breaking the cycle of contamination.

    • Nitrile gloves should be provided for tasks involving multiple people, as this eliminates the skin to skin contact
    • Employees currently using FFP3 masks should continue to do so
    • Face shields offer no protection for the respiratory system – if a risk of exposure has been identified, then exchange for respirators.
    • Re-usable PPE should be thoroughly cleaned and stored and should not be shared with multiple users
    • Single use PPE should be disposed of as soon as finished and treated as clinical waste

    Hand washing and gels

    Hand washing should be encouraged where possible. If this is not possible, then hand gels should be provided. 70% alcohol based should be used where available, if not 60% will offer some protection.


    We have provided regular coronavirus HR updates, but it’s worth reminding ourselves of all of the changes that came in in April, including The Good Work Plan and the changes to National Minimum Wages etc.

    As ever, if you have any questions regarding any of these changes, please contact your designated advisor as usual.

    Good Work Plan

    As you may be aware, from the beginning of April elements of the government’s Good Work Plan have been introduced. With this comes several changes to Employment Law… 

    Right to written statement of main terms and conditions

    As of 6 April 2020, there is now a legal obligation for contracts of employment to be given on or before day one of employment. This requirement also extends to all bank staff and casual staff, not just permanent employees. 

    The government now expects to see an increased level of detail in employment contracts including: 

    • How long the role is expected to last, e.g. if this was a fixed term role
    • Eligibility to sick pay
    • Confirmation of probationary period and notice details 
    • Details of any training requirements or entitlements
    • Details of all other leave entitlement, for example maternity leave or paternity leave
    • All other remuneration and benefits 
    • Normal working hours, the days of the week the worker is required to work and any variation. 

    It is essential that you review your employment contracts to ensure that your documentation complies with the new rules. If you need any assistance reviewing and updating your documentation, please contact your designated HR Advisor. 

    Holiday Pay  

    Previously, when calculating holiday pay for employees who regularly work overtime or receive bonuses, commission etc, companies were required to use a 12-week reference period. From 6th April, this increased to a 52-week referencing period.

    If a worker hasn’t worked for a continuous 52-week period, calculations should be based on the number of weeks they have been employed. 

    Agency Workers

    Previously, agency workers could exchange their right to be paid equally to permanent counterparts in return for a contract guaranteeing pay between assignments. This is known as the Swedish Derogation. From 6 April 2020 these provisions were removed.

    In addition, agency workers are now entitled to receive specific information covering their pay, type of contract, holiday entitlement and who is responsible for their employment. It is the responsibility of the relevant agency to provide the worker with this information.  

    Changes to IR35

    At present, the IR35 rules apply when an individual performs services for a company, through an intermediary, where the services are provided under a direct contract. For tax purposes the individual is regarded as being employed by the company and it is the intermediary’s responsibility to determine whether IR35 applies or not. 

    Originally, changes to this legislation were set to come in April 2020, however, the government has now postponed the reforms from 6 April 2020 to 6 April 2021. This delay is due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    From April 2021, the IR35 rules will be applied to medium and large business in the private sector. The onus will shift to the client to determine whether the IR35 rules apply or not. 

    Break in Service

    Previously, a working break of one week is enough to constitute a break in continuity of service. With effect from April, that break in service increased to four weeks.


    National Minimum Wage

    From April 2020 the new rates are:

    • The National Living Wage for ages 25 and above rose by 6.2% to £8.72
    • The National Minimum Wage for 21 to 24 year olds rose by 6.5% to £8.20
    • For 18 to 20 year olds, a rise of 4.9% to £6.45
    • For under 18s, a rise of 4.6% to £4.55
    • For apprentices, a rise of 6.4% to £15

    It’s important to remember that although these rates took effect from the beginning of April, workers are only entitled to this increase from when their pay reference period starts, e.g. if a monthly paid worker is paid on the 10th April, they would be entitled to receive their new increased rate from the 11th April.

    Parental Bereavement Leave

    The Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay Act has now been introduced and means that as of April 2020, employees who suffer the loss of a child under the age of 18 are automatically entitled to Parental Bereavement Leave.   

    Parents or carers who have been employed for 26 continuous weeks or more prior to the child’s death, and who have received the lower earnings limit for the previous eight weeks, will receive a right to two weeks leave at a statutory rate of pay. 

    Workers who have not been employed for a continuous period of 26 weeks are entitled to two weeks unpaid leave. 

    The two weeks leave can either be taken in one block or as two separate blocks of one week each. Furthermore, this must be taken within 56 weeks of the date of the child’s death. This allows for any difficult events such as birthdays or anniversaries. 

    Notice for Parental Bereavement leave is flexible and can be taken on short notice.


    30 April

    COVID-19: Managing a pandemic

    We are hosting a new webinar: COVID-19: Managing a Pandemic – Advice and guidance on key safety and employment issues we are all currently faced with, on the 6th May 2020, at 1pm.

    This will include H&S and Employment Law professionals as well as Mental Health First Aiders giving presentations on:

    • Managing Homeworkers 
    • Mental health tips for homeworkers
    • PPE, workplace and travel 
    • Job retention scheme 

    This will include essential information for every business, and we will be taking questions, the answers to which will later be added to our website. This webinar will be the first of many, so please keep an eye out for future invitations.

    You can register for this webinar here today: https://bit.ly/3bPAirE


    Preparing to return to work

    We have prepared several documents to help businesses return to work, once current restrictions are relaxed or lifted.

    These include specific coronavirus:

    • Health screening questionnaire
    • Risk assessment
    • Toolbox talks
    • Policy and Advice

    We will be adding to this list and include industry-specific versions too.

    If you require any of the above or wish to discuss your individual requirements, please contact your advisor.


    Construction workers now eligible for virus testing

    Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, has announced that construction site workers in England with coronavirus symptoms are now eligible to get tested, and so are their families. 

    Anyone in England with coronavirus symptoms who either has to leave home to go to work or is aged 65 and over will now be able to get tested. This will mean people who cannot work from home and those aged 65 and over can know for sure whether they have coronavirus and need to continue isolating. Members of their households with symptoms – a new continuous cough or high temperature – will also be eligible for testing.

    There are two ways to arrange a test:

    • Self-referral – enables workers and members of their households who have symptoms to book a test directly using the online system
    • Employer referral – allows employers to refer workers for a test via a secure portal. Employers will need to obtain a login by emailing portalservicedesk@dhsc.gov.uk with their organisation name, nature of their business, region, and names and email addresses for two users.

    Build UK advises that contractors may find it more efficient for clients already registered for their essential workers to request the test on their behalf.


    DVSA updates for the transport industry

    New requirements for travelling to France

    Recent changes meant that all those driving to France, including freight operators, had to complete an International Attestation to confirm that their journey meets the criteria for essential travel.  This was designed to curb non-essential travel.

    Since then, French authorities have confirmed that, for drivers of vehicles performing international transport of goods by road, a completed Certificate for International Transport Workers will be accepted and they no longer need the International Attestation.

    The certificate must be carried in hard copy form by the driver and shown, if requested, to French enforcement agencies. Passengers in either freight vehicles or other vehicles will still need to produce the ‘International travel certificate to mainland France’.

    Heavy vehicle testing exceptions

    Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the DVSA took the decision to suspend heavy goods vehicle (HGV), trailer and public service vehicle (PSV) testing for up to 3 months.

    However, there are some instances where they will be testing vehicles which are being used to support the COVID-19 response.

    These are:

    • out-of-service MOT vehicles or trailers being returned to service
    • approval of specialist vehicles, including ambulances and fire service vehicles

    Some of this testing will be carried out by DVSA staff at ATFs. Operators/vehicle presenters will nominate an ATF based on the location of the vehicles. 


    28 April

    World Day for Safety and Health at Work

    Today is World Day for Safety and Health at Work.

    The original theme was to be around violence and harassment in the world of work, but has been replaced in view of the current global crisis, with Stop the pandemic: Safety and health at work can save lives

    The event is hosted by the International Labour Organization (ILO), and many resources can be found on their website.

    In light of this, join us for our very own webinar: COVID-19: Managing a Pandemic – Advice and guidance on key safety and employment issues we are all currently faced with, on the 6th May 2020, at 1pm. This will include H&S and Employment Law professionals as well as Mental Health First Aiders giving presentations on:

    • Managing Homeworkers
    • Mental health tips for homeworkers
    • PPE, workplace and travel
    • Job retention scheme

    For a full description, and to register, please visit this link 


    100% state-backed loans for small firms

    Small firms are to get access to 100% taxpayer-backed loans after they raised concerns about slow access to existing coronavirus rescue schemes.

    Yesterday, Chancellor Rishi Sunak told the House of Commons the scheme would start next week, offering firms loans up to £50,000 within days of applying. It aims to unlock a backlog of credit checks by banks amid fears many small firms could fold before getting loans. The loan terms mean that no capital or interest repayments will be due for one year. Instead, the government will pay the interest for the first 12 months.

    Underwriting the loans removes the risk that banks will not get their money back, which Mr Sunak hopes will speed up the application process. The new “microloan scheme” would provide a “simple, quick, easy” solution, he told the Commons.

    In another significant change, firms applying for the new loans will now only have to prove that they were viable in the past before the crisis, not that they will viable after the crisis. Companies have complained they struggled to prove their future potential with so much uncertainty over the economic environment.

    The chancellor had come under pressure to underwrite all loans, not just those up to £50,000. But he said he was not prepared to do this as he needed to balance the risk to the taxpayer with the needs of small businesses. He said: “I’ve heard some calls for the government to underwrite all our loan schemes with 100% guarantees. I remain unconvinced by the case for doing that universally.

    “We should not ask the ordinary taxpayers of today and tomorrow to bear the entire risk of lending almost unlimited sums to businesses who may, in some cases, have very little prospect of paying those loans back and not necessarily because of the impact of the coronavirus.”

    You can find out more about this new scheme here

    Source: BBC


    When the working day is done…

    You’ve finished your work for the day and you’ve exhausted the Netflix catalogue, so what now?

    Here are a few ideas for some alternative entertainment ideas for the long evenings spent indoors:


    27 April

    Social distancing, keeping businesses open and in-work activities during the coronavirus outbreak

    HSE is constantly reviewing the fast-moving pandemic situation with their partners across government to support the national effort to tackle COVID-19 and have published the following guidance to help businesses through.

    Social distancing 

    While social distancing is fundamentally a public health measure introduced to reduce the spread of infection, HSE recognises the concerns raised on social distancing within the workplace and are in contact with trade unions.

    Where HSE identifies employers who are not taking action to comply with the relevant PHE guidance to control public health risks, e.g. employers not taking appropriate action to socially distance or ensure workers in the shielded category can follow the NHS advice to self-isolate for the period specified, they will consider taking a range of actions to improve control of workplace risks. These actions include the provision of specific advice to employers through to issuing enforcement notices to help secure improvements with the PHE guidance.

    Essential and non-essential work 

    Keep your business open. With the exception of some non-essential shops and public venues, HSE are not asking any other businesses to close – indeed it is important for business to carry on.

    However, employers should take every possible step to facilitate their employees working from home. Where it is not possible to work from home, you can still travel for work purposes, provided you are not showing coronavirus symptoms and neither you nor any of your household are self-isolating. 

    Employers who have people in their offices or onsite should ensure that employees are able, where possible, to follow Public Health England guidelines on social distancing (including, where possible, maintaining a 2 metre distance from others), and hygiene (washing their hands with soap and water often, for at least 20 seconds). Follow government guidance on how to keep your employees safe

    In-work activity

    All workers are encouraged to keep working and should be working from home if they can. 

    • Only travel to work when you absolutely cannot work from home.
    • Protect yourself, your workers and help save lives by staying at home.
    • Follow government guidance on what you need to do
    • If you are travelling to your workplace you will still need to observe the social distancing guidance whilst you are travelling, as far as is practical. Social distancing means staying 2 metres (6ft) apart from other people. 
    • In your workplace you need to observe, where possible, the social distancing guidance.

    Home schooling resources

    We’re well aware that it can be a struggle to balance working from home with home schooling, and getting this balance right can make all the difference to everyone’s wellbeing in the household.

    As you know, there are many online resources to help with home schooling, but it’s good to get some variety in there, to break the monotony and keep your children interested, so we’ve listed some more below for you to check out:

    • Mindfulness: Every day at 9.30am, the Facebook group (it’s private, so make sure you join in advance)MiniMe Mindfulness provides a coaching session for kids to help keep them in a healthy mindset as we all tackle a new ‘normal’.
    • Maths: White Rose Maths offers five free maths lessons for children in years 1-8, and each lesson comes with a video that you can watch on your own, to understand the lesson first, or with your child. Each lesson lasts 20-30 minutes and the group, made up of teachers and mathematicians, recommends you do one session per day.
    • Art: Children’s book author and illustrator, Rob Biddulph, is running draw-along videos every Tuesday and Thursday at 10am which you can leave your kids to follow along to, armed with a pencil and paper while you get some of your own work done, or join in too.
    • DT: Study science, engineering and computing with Dr Chips at 10am every weekday, where he teaches children how to code, make musical instruments out of household objects and how cybersecurity works through video lessons and quizzes.
    • Food technology: The Feasted Facebook group does daily cooking classes for children, at 10am Monday to Friday. It has 30 minute slots you can book onto as far ahead as 13 May, with themed weeks such as chocolate (where the kids can make recipes such as brownies).
    • English: Collins Dictionary is running a word of the day series, which can help you explain what a pandemic is, what furlough means, why we’re in lockdown and more, so you can help keep your children calm and understand why they can’t go to school or see their friends.

    We did the marathon!

    Well, a ‘workout’ marathon. Online!

    On Saturday, many of the Stallard Kane staff (and some clients) teamed up with local business owner, fitness expert and founder of S3LF Jessica Neary, to take part in a home workout marathon to raise money for the NHS. Jess hosted seven sessions in all, with 85-100 participants taking part in each one. So far, Jess has raised an amazing £3,084 for the amazing NHS Foundation Trust, so thank you to everyone who took part and/or donated. If you’d still like to do some of the workouts, Jess will be uploading the videos to her Instagram page later today @S3LFUK.


    24 April

    The Job Retention Scheme – comprehensive guidance

    As you will know from our previous updates, the government’s Job Retention Scheme has been set up to protect businesses during the current crisis, and the HMRC portal to make claims, went live this week.

    As you can imagine, we have had a lot of enquiries surrounding this, so we thought it would be useful to share this House Of Commons Briefing Paper on the scheme.

    It covers everything, including:

    • Rules of the scheme
    • Who’s eligible
    • Who can be furloughed
    • What furloughed employee can and can’t do (such as work for another employer while on furlough)
    • Selecting workers for furlough
    • Meaning of ‘reference salary’
    • And other employment issues, such as annual leave etc

    Of course, should you have any specific questions you need an answer to, please don’t hesitate to contact your SK advisor as usual.


    HSE open letter to the food industry

    HSE have written an open letter to the food industry in response to concerns that have been raised.

    A lot of the communication is specific to bakeries, but the advice is relevant for the wider food industry.

    “In bakeries, breathing in flour dust can be a significant risk as it can cause occupational asthma. We are aware that currently there is a restricted supply of dust masks (PPE) across many parts of the food industry and that many employers still rely on them to control exposure to hazardous substances. However, suitable control can often be achieved using good working practices and local exhaust ventilation (engineering controls) which then means that employees do not need to wear dust masks; reducing overall pressure on the supply chain. To advise bakeries on what they can do we have produced the guidelines in Annex 1.

    “During the COVID-19 outbreak we do not anticipate an increase in cases of occupational asthma. Employers that effectively control exposure to flour dust using good working practices, engineering controls and PPE will not see an increase in cases. However, whenever cases are reported, in line with our publicly available Incident Selection Criteria, we will investigate them to understand the circumstances.

    https://www.hse.gov.uk/enforce/incidselcrits.pdf

    “Guidance on what to report to HSE under the Reporting of Injuries, Disease and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) is available on our website. The guidance includes the restricted circumstances under which cases of COVID-19 amongst employees are reportable:

    https://www.hse.gov.uk/riddor/index.htm”

    You can read the whole letter here.


    Fitting respirators properly

    Now more than ever, it is important to ensure that ventilators are fitted correctly, as if it’s not, it will not provide you with sufficient protection – not just from Coronavirus, but also from the usual workplace pollutants, such as dust etc.

    HSE has published an article on the importance of fitting respirators correctly, as well as specific advice to healthcare workers on using respiratory protective equipment (RPE).

    Ideally, Stallard Kane could assist with face fit testing, to ensure the respirator has a good seal, but due to the current situation, HSE’s Chief Medical Advisor, Professor David Fishwick, features in a video providing guidance on fitting RPE properly.


    Protecting lone workers

    Due to social distancing, lone working has become far more common, so HSE has produced guidance for employers to keep workers healthy and safe.

    They have recently revised their leaflet Protecting lone workers: How to control the risks of working alone, which is very useful for anyone who employs lone workers, or engages them as contractors etc, including self-employed people or those who work at home. It has been updated to include advice on work-related violence, keeping in touch, and the impact of lone working on stress and mental health.


    Get sweaty this Saturday!

    Don’t forget Stallard Kane are teaming up with local business owner, fitness expert and founder of S3LF Jessica Neary, to take part in a home workout marathon! 

    It’s all for a great cause – to raise money for the NHS. Starting at 10am on Saturday 25th April on Instagram (follow @S3LFUK), there will be 20-25min workouts every hour, on the hour! ANYONE can take part, not just our employees or clients, but anyone who wants to Stay Home & Get Sweaty! Why not get the family involved, or just work up a sweat to break up the monotony of lockdown?! We’d love to see your pictures…

    Sessions are free to join, but donations to support the amazing NHS Foundation Trust can be made here


    23 April

    Virtual Classrooms

    While many businesses are having to adapt the way that they work, with reduced workloads or employees on furlough*, we are offering a new range of courses to be conducted in a virtual classroom setting.

    They cover a range of subjects that can either enhance communication skills in the workplace, or at home, or aid wellbeing.

    Each course is 10hrs long and will be split into two 5 hour sessions. Times and costs will vary depending on the number of participants and courses booked.

    If you are interested in signing up for any of these, please contact our training team at training@skaltd.co.uk and they will be in touch to discuss your requirements and set the courses up.

    *An employee on furlough can still undertake ‘training’ or ‘learning’ as long as it cannot be used by the employer to generate revenue. If an employee is required to complete training that will potentially generate revenue for the company, this will bring furlough leave to an end. These particular courses should all be suitable for employees on furlough to undertake, but please contact your HR advisor or our HR team for clarification.

    Introduction to British Sign Language and understanding hearing loss

    Duration: 10 hours
    This course will help you understand ways to manage communication with people who have hearing loss. Learn how to use sign language to communicate and hold brief conversations. The course material can be adapted to vocabulary for each person, for example, the care/retail/education sector.

    Your tutor has over 15 years of further education teaching experience and is a double hearing aid user; using both BSL and spoken English.

    The skilled helper – an introduction to the skills needed to be a counsellor, support worker, coach or mentor

    Duration: 10 hours
    This course will help you understand the skills needed to work with people in a support role. Learn how to effectively listen, and process information to work through to an action plan. You will look at the ethics involved within each role and professional qualifications required. The course material can be adapted for each person, for example, the care/education/health sector

    Your tutor has over 15 years of further education teaching experience and is a full time Counsellor, Coach and Mentor in private practice, supporting organisations and public the sector.

    How to manage your anxiety and negative thoughts

    Duration: 10 hours
    This course will look at anxiety and how thoughts and behaviours differ. We look at the internal messages you keep in your mind and how to re-write them.

    We use your own personal experiences in the course, so a conversation with the tutor ahead of starting is necessary.

    Your tutor has over 15 years of further education teaching experience and is a full time Counsellor and Supervisor in private practice, supporting organisations and public the sector

    Home harmony – effective communication in the home

    Duration: 10 hours
    This course will help you understand the dynamics of effective communication. You will learn how personality types impact on the way people listen and respond.

    The course material will show tips and techniques of managing conflict before it happens. We will adapt the course material for each person and their own household, including elderly relatives and teens.

    Your tutor has over 15 years of further education teaching experience and is a full time Counsellor, Coach and Mentor in private practice, supporting organisations and public the sector.

    Workplace conflict – effective communication in the workplace

    Duration: 10 hours
    This course will help you understand the dynamics of effective communication. You will learn how personality types impact on the way people listen and respond. How the different generations’ values and behaviours can be misunderstood in the workplace. The course material will show tips and techniques on how to manage conflict before it happens. We will adapt the course material for each person and their workplace culture and sector.

    Your tutor has over 15 years of further education teaching experience and is a full time Coach and HR consultant in private practice, supporting organisations and public the sector.

    Adulting – the 19+ guide to breaking and changing perceptions

    Duration: 10 hours
    Moving emotionally into adulthood can be challenging. Although you’ve gained many skills and knowledge, you are still carrying around the perceptions of you as a young person.

    How can you break the mould of negative behaviours, challenge (effectively) perceptions that people have and learn how to create a new brand of you?!

    Your tutor has over 15 years of further education teaching experience and is a full time Coach and HR consultant in private practice, supporting organisations and public the sector.

    Winning ways – how confidence can be calm, yet strong

    Duration: 10 hours
    Being more confident is not about faking it. It’s not about being artificial. This course will look at the person who you are and work with that, and turn your core self into a confident self.

    We will look at the life scripts you carry with you and how, if challenged, you can re-write them to be strong in your own world.

    Your tutor has over 15 years of further education teaching experience and is a full time Counsellor, Coach and Mentor in private practice, supporting organisations and public the sector.


    Stay home, Get sweaty

    Stallard Kane are teaming up with local business owner, fitness expert and founder of S3LF Jessica Neary, where our staff are taking part in a home workout marathon! All for a great cause – to raise money for the NHS. Starting at 10am on Saturday 25th April on Instagram (follow @S3LFUK), there will be 20-25min workouts every hour, on the hour! ANYONE can take part, not just our employees or clients, simply anyone who wants to Stay Home & Get Sweaty! Get the family involved, or just work up a sweat to break up the monotony of lockdown!

    Sessions are free to join, but donations to support the amazing NHS Foundation Trust can be made here


    22 April

    How to calculate your furlough pay claim

    As you will likely be aware, the Government Job Retention Scheme Portal opened on Monday and you can now submit your claims for 80% of your employees’ wages (even for employees on National Minimum Wage) – up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.

    You will still be required to pay employer National Insurance and pension contributions on behalf of your furloughed employees, and you can claim for these too.

    You cannot claim for:

    • additional National Insurance or pension contributions you make because you choose to top up your employees’ wages
    • any pension contributions you make that are above the mandatory employer contribution

    You must check you are eligible for the scheme before submitting a claim.

    Claims should start from the date that the employee finishes work and starts furlough, not when the decision is made, or when they are written to confirming their furloughed status.

    It may be that you are now ready to make a claim but are unsure exactly how to calculate 80%. To support employers with this task, the Government have set up an online calculator along with additional advice on what to include when calculating wages and this can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/work-out-80-of-your-employees-wages-to-claim-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

    Please remember you need the following information to be able to complete a claim:

    • to be registered for PAYE online
    • your UK bank account number and sort code
    • your employer PAYE scheme reference number
    • the number of employees being furloughed
    • each employee’s National Insurance number
    • each employee’s payroll or employee number (optional)
    • the start date and end date of the claim
    • the full amount you’re claiming for including employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum pension contributions
    • your phone number
    • contact name

    You also need to provide either:

    • your name (or the employer’s name if you’re an agent)
    • your Corporation Tax unique taxpayer reference
    • your Self Assessment unique taxpayer reference
    • your company registration number

    When you are then ready to submit a claim you should use the step by step guide, which can be found at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/880376/Coronavirus_Job_Retention_Scheme_step_by_step_guide_for_employers.pdf


    Superstar supply teachers

    UK schools have been closed to all but vulnerable children and those of key workers since 20 March to curb the spread of Covid-19, and the two-week Easter holiday has just finished.

    So yesterday, on the day children were due to go back to school, the BBC announced a new raft of learning resources, featuring lots of famous faces, to help with home schooling.

    The programme includes BBC Bitesize Daily, airing on BBC iPlayer and the BBC red button, which will feature six 20-minute programmes each day aimed at different age groups.

    There will also be a maths and English lesson every day for different age groups, daily education podcasts and programmes on BBC Four on weekday evenings to support GCSE and A-level courses.

    Some of the stars getting involved are:

    • Doctor Who actress Jodie Whittaker will be dropping in on Bitesize Daily lessons
    • Stars including singer Mabel, Strictly Come Dancing’s Oti Mabuse, One Direction member Liam Payne and Countryfile presenter Anita Rani will read books aimed at both primary and secondary age children.

    Celebrities leading lessons or making appearances include:

    • Manchester City footballer Sergio Aguero will help youngsters learn to count in Spanish
    • Sir David Attenborough will look at geography topics such as oceans and mapping the world
    • Former shadow chancellor Ed Balls will deliver a maths class for 11 to 14-year-olds
    • Professor Brian Cox will teach science topics such as force, the solar system and gravity
    • EastEnders actor Danny Dyer will give a history class for five to seven-year-olds on Henry VIII

    21 April

    D4 medical suspension, driver hours and motorway services

    D4 medical suspension

    The government has temporarily suspended the need for a D4 medical when renewing driving entitlements.

    With NHS staff rightly focused on the nationwide response to COVID-19, the government is taking action to protect essential supply chains by making temporary provisions for commercial drivers aged 45 and over, to forgo the need for a D4 medical in order to renew their driving entitlement.

    This change is temporary and will only apply where the driver does not have any existing notifiable health conditions, and their licence has not expired before 1 January 2020. The licence will only be valid for 1 year instead of 5 years and the driver will need to submit a completed D4 when the licence is due for renewal in 12 months. 

    Drivers will still be required to self-declare any medical conditions that may affect their ability to drive. Those with health issues that prevent them from driving safely will not have their licence renewed. All drivers must ensure they are medically fit to drive.

    Motorway services are open

    Motorway and major trunk road services remain open 24 hours a day following advice from the government deeming them as ‘essential services’.

    The welfare of commercial drivers is a priority. While some service stations have reduced their opening hours, fuel, toilets, food and drink remain available at all service stations 24 hours a day.

    Drivers can plan their break stops by visiting the Highways England website, which is updated 7 days a week.

    Driver hours relaxation extended to 31 May

    As part of the government’s effort to keep supply chains moving throughout the coronavirus outbreak, the Department for Transport has authorised an extension to the existing relaxation of the drivers’ hours rules.

    The extension means that the temporary relaxation, previously due to end today (21 April), will continue until 23:59 on 31 May 2020. This extension does not apply to the previous relaxation on break requirements.

    Driver safety remains a priority for the government and drivers should not be expected to drive whilst tired. Employers remain responsible for the health and safety of their employees and other road users.


    COVID-19 advice for hire shops continuing to trade

    We have put together a short presentation advising hire shops on how to keep safe during the current crisis. Although specific to hire shops, a lot of the guidance is relevant for many other types of businesses, so please take a look.


    Stepping up for the NHS

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    The Talley Group Limited factory

    We all know how hard our frontline staff are working during the current crisis, but there are many businesses working behind the scenes to ensure they have the resources and equipment to do their jobs well.

    One such business is Talley Group Limited, who have been working with Stallard Kane since 2015 and are currently working around the clock to supply urgently needed beds and bed frames to the NHS.  

    Now the UK`s largest privately owned specialist in pressure ulcer prevention, Talley Surgical was set up in 1953 by Henry Talley, grandfather to the present owners Christopher and John Evans, and were the first manufacturer in Europe to create and sell pressure area care mattresses. Talley Surgical became Talley Medical in the mid-1980s and relocated to Romsey in Hampshire in 1989, and is now Talley Group Limited.

    Talley make the hospital beds, mattresses and all of the electronic components from scratch – all aspects of production are carried out in-house, using the latest technologies, including design, plastic polymer injection moulding, surface mount electronics, manufacturing, and testing, to retain control and to maintain the highest quality standards.

    Not only do Talley supply both the UK and international markets, but they also provide rental and service support by delivering, installing, collecting, and repairing equipment for hospitals, care homes, hospices, equipment stores and private individuals. For many of their customers and service users, their equipment is vital, and therefore they felt it was imperative that they tried to maintain `business as usual` as far as possible during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

    Many of their employees are now working from home, and whilst their manufacturing and service depots remain open, they have implemented several measures such as no visitors, additional PPE and strict social distancing guidelines.

    It has become apparent that their products and services are required more than ever right now, and they are committed to doing all they can to continue with their normal production and services. In order to keep up with the increased demand with minimal effect on lead times, they took the decision to temporarily reduce their range to three key products.

    They recently received an urgent order from the NHS to supply Quattro Plus mattresses and electric profiling bed frames to support the opening of new NHS facilities, including the Nightingale Hospitals in both London and Manchester. Incredibly, they managed to supply the first batch within days of the order being placed, which contributed to the hospitals being able to open on time and enabled vital treatment to take place. This work continues as they are providing further equipment on a weekly basis to support the NHS efforts throughout the UK. They are also providing assistance to the NHS in the form of Sue, their Clinical Affairs Associate, who has an extensive nursing background and is supporting the pandemic by working on the frontline in the NHS for two days a week.

    To find out more about Talley Group, please visit their website: www.talleygroup.com


    20 April

    Job Retention Scheme important update

    Today marks the day that the HMRC online portal will open for employers to claim for the grant through the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme.

    The government have released step by step guidance for employers on how to claim, which can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-job-retention-scheme-step-by-step-guide-for-employers?&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=covid19&utm_content=jrs_step

    The guidance is split into five sections and employers must read the advice before proceeding with a claim:

    1. Essential Information
    2. Before you make a claim
    3. Calculating a claim
    4. Making a claim
    5. What to do next

    The government have also put together a pre-recorded webinar to help employers using the online portal. The aim is that employers will receive payment through the claim six days after the applications have been submitted. The guidance explains how to make a claim by yourself or through an agent who has authorisation to act on your behalf.

    In the Calculating a Claim section, the guidance explains how to calculate a claim for 80% of pay, the grant for Employers National Insurance Contributions and Employer Pension contributions, all separately.

    Once you have made a claim, HMRC will verify this and expects to the pay the grant within six working days. Employers will be issued with a claim reference number, that should be kept safe. Employers should retain all their calculations for the claim as there may be audits or they may be required by HMRC. Employers should inform their furloughed employees they have made a claim and that they do not need to take any further action themselves.

    Holidays and Furlough

    Further guidance has also been released on holidays during the furlough period. Employers and employees can agree to vary their holiday entitlement during the furlough agreement, however employees should still receive at least the 5.6 weeks paid statutory entitlement and cannot go under this. Employees can agree to forfeit any other holiday entitlement over and above this.

    Employees can take holiday during the furlough period and, in line with the Working Time Regulations, employees should receive their normal pay for this. Where an employee’s pay varies, they should receive an average of their pay over the previous 52 weeks. If it is agreed that an employee will take holiday during the furlough period, the company will be able to claim through the grant for the first 80% or £2,500 however this will need to be topped up to full pay by the company, the additional element cannot be claimed back by the company through the scheme.

    With the Easter bank holidays that have just gone, employers could pay this as a day’s holiday and would therefore have to make up the difference between 80% or £2,500 and full pay. Alternatively, if the company is not in a position to make these payments, the holidays should not be used and therefore these will be carried forward for the employees to use at some point down the line.

    If you need any further advice please do not hesitate to contact your advisor.


    Coronavirus & RIDDOR – how do we know when to legally report?

    There may be some confusion around what, when and why a case of Covid-19 may be reportable under the requirements of The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases & Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR).

    The HSE have published guidance on reporting Covid-19, which specifically states that employers must only make a report under RIDDOR when:

    • an unintended incident at work has led to someone’s possible or actual exposure to coronavirus. This must be reported as a dangerous occurrence.
    • a worker has been diagnosed as having COVID 19 and there is reasonable evidence that it was caused by exposure at work. This must be reported as a case of disease.
    • a worker dies as a result of occupational exposure to coronavirus.

    The HSE then go on to give examples for each of the above – all of which are heavily aimed at the healthcare sector and, whilst it is quite obvious to state that workers within the healthcare sector will be the most effected, it would be unwise for any employer to assume, based on the examples the HSE use so specifically for each instance, that the new guidance does not apply to them also.

    The intentions of the HSE and their guidance is not meant to capture an employee simply contracting Covid-19 and this then being reportable. It is purely for those instances where an employee has contracted/suspected of having contracted the virus in relation to work activities – this is very important keep in mind.

    Also remember that, both RIDDOR and the HSE guidance require a diagnosis and ‘reasonable evidence’ that an individual has contracted Covid-19 caused by exposure at work. Therefore, this would require a positive test or a diagnosis by a medical practitioner and furthermore, an opinion on causation. This will be extremely difficult and, in some cases, almost impossible to determine whether exposure has actually arisen in or out of connection with work, due to the infectious nature of the disease, persons being a-symptomatic, incubation periods, lack of testing in the UK and so on. And, whilst it is fair to say that more clarity is needed on the guidance, until this is given by the HSE, here are a few key points to consider when determining whether an employee may have contracted Covid-19, or had possible exposure:

    • Remember, the guidance is not there to capture an employee contracting coronavirus, but is to be used only for instances which are work related.
    • Therefore, employers should carefully consider whether there is a formal diagnosis, rather than a mere suspicion of coronavirus, and consider what evidence there is to support that it has been caused by exposure at work, or adversely, whether it is a result of exposure outside of work – this will be crucial with regards to the need to report.
    • Diagnosis given by a medical practitioner is required, and furthermore, an opinion on causation should be sought – the doctor may indicate the significance of any work-related factors when communicating their diagnosis. This will help to clarify if contraction was in connection with work.
    • Investigations will be required internally to determine points of contact relevant to the infected person(s). The aim here is to try to get to the bottom of whether the contraction of the virus came out of work or not.
    • A report should then be made whenever there is reasonable evidence (i.e. the above point) suggesting that a work-related exposure was the likely cause of the disease.

    If employers have possible cases within their workforce, they should seek professional advice to ensure they are informed correctly as to legal duties to report under RIDDOR.


    A hair-raising achievement

    Time for a good new story…

    Our H&S Advisor, Steve Taylor, is very proud of his son Jack, and rightly so. During the Easter break Jack suddenly came up with the idea that he wanted to do something good for all the NHS staff that are putting their lives at risk during this time. He decided that he would shave his hair for charity, which, you may think is not that much of a sacrifice, but apparently, this is the greatest sacrifice that Jack could think of –  he has grown and nurtured his mass of very thick hair (Irish roots) for at least 6 months and it stood up at an astonishing 4 inches high!!!

    He decided to donate funds to NHS Charities Together, as he read that any money raised through this charity gets distributed to where it matters. He set his target at £50 as he just wanted to “do his bit” for something that, unbeknown to Steve, had obviously affected him as much as any adult.

    Jack braved the big cut on Saturday and has managed to raise an amazing £614 for NHS Charities Together.

    Well done Jack. Dad next maybe?!


    17 April

    An overview of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme*

    The online HMRC portal for the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme is expected to open on Monday 20th April. The Government has continued to release further guidance on the scheme on an ad-hoc basis, so Stallard Kane have put together a review of the scheme as a whole, as a refresher. 

    Today the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak has announced that the Coronavirus job retention scheme will be open until the end of June, an extension of a further month, further to yesterday’s announcement to keep social distancing measures in place.

    Who can claim?

    Employers who have negatively been affected by the Coronavirus outbreak can furlough qualifying employees and look to reclaim the lower of either 80% of their regular earnings or £2,500 per employee per month, plus associated Employers National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment pension contributions.

    Although the scheme was announced on 20th March, claims for the grant can be backdated to 1st March and following today’s announcement the scheme will be open until at least the end of June. The minimum period of time an individual can be furloughed for is 3 weeks and employees can be furloughed multiple times. Employers do not have to furlough all employees in order to be eligible for the scheme.

    In order to be eligible to claim for the grant, an employer must

    • Have created and started a PAYE scheme on or before 19th March 2020
    • Enrolled on PAYE online
    • Have a UK bank account

    The scheme is open to any type of business including charities, recruitment agencies and public authorities. The government have made it clear that it does not expect public authorities will use the scheme, especially those who receive public funds to pay wages. However, in a small number of cases this may be relevant for organisations who are not primarily funded by the government to furlough employees.

    Companies in administration

    Where a company is in administration, the Administrator will be able to access the Job Retention Scheme. However, it is expected that the Administrator would only access the scheme if there is a reasonable likelihood of rehiring the workers, i.e. if there is to be a sale of a business.

    Who can you claim for?

    Any employee who was employed and on the payroll on or before 19th March 2020 can be claimed for under the furlough scheme. The Company must have notified HMRC via an RTI submission on or before 19th March, in order for the individual to qualify. Unfortunately, in line with the current guidance if HMRC have not been informed prior to the 19th March, that individual will not qualify.

    The scheme will cover the following types of employee:

    • Full time and part time employees
    • Employees on agency contracts
    • Employees on zero-hour contracts
    • Apprentices

    As well as normal employees, you can also claim for the following:

    • Office holders (including Directors)
    • Salaried members of a limited Liability Partnership (LLP)
    • Agency workers including those employed by Umbrella companies
    • Limb (b) workers

    Employees who have either been made redundant or left the company on or before 19th March could also be re-hired and placed onto furlough. An employee in this scenario will have had to have still been on the PAYE of the Company on or before 28th February and have left employment from that date up to 19th March. Even if they have started employment elsewhere, if they do not qualify through their new employer, they can be furloughed by their old employer. Employees can also undertake volunteer work whilst they are furloughed. The voluntary work should not be for their employer.

    Employees on unpaid leave cannot be furloughed unless their unpaid leave started after 28th February (with the exception of those returning from statutory leave, please see below). Employees on sick leave or who are self-isolating are entitled to receive SSP. Companies can claim for both the Coronavirus SSP and Job Retention Scheme, however, not for both at the same time. After the period of absence where SSP is claimed, individuals can be furloughed.

    Those employees who are returning from statutory leave i.e. Maternity, Paternity, Adoption, Shared Parental leave or Parental Bereavement leave can also be furloughed. Therefore, some employees who took unpaid statutory leave before the 28th February will be eligible to be furloughed. The 80% pay should be based upon their usual pay when they are at work, and not on their statutory pay.

    Employees on fixed contracts can be furloughed, their contracts can be renewed or extended during a period of furlough and the individuals would still be eligible to be furloughed. If a fixed term contract is ended, the individual will cease to be eligible for the grant from that point.

    Employees who have transferred under the TUPE regulations after 19th March can be furloughed by their new employer.

    Employees who are shielding in line with public health guidance (or who need to stay at home to shield others) and those who are unable to work as they have caring responsibilities because of the Coronavirus outbreak are also eligible to be furloughed.

    The guidance suggests that any employee who left employment on or after 20th March will not qualify for the Job retention scheme.

    How to furlough employees

    To claim for the scheme, employees must have been furloughed. This is a change in employment status and employers should seek the agreement of employees to be furloughed and confirm this in writing, as well as the understanding that whilst they are on furlough they will not be required to undertake any work for the company. Employers will be required to keep records on file of this agreement for up to 5 years, and it is thought that HMRC may undertake retrospective audits on companies.

    As per our update of 6th April, if an individual has been furloughed by one employer this does not mean that they cannot continue to work elsewhere. As long as your contract of employment allows for this, individuals could work at another employer, even if they have been furloughed by their main employer. For any employer that takes on a new employee, the new employer should ensure they complete the starter checklist form correctly. If the employee is furloughed from another employment, they should complete Statement C.

    Training 

    An employee on furlough can still undertake ‘training’. The training must not be used by the employer to generate revenue. If an employee is required to complete training, this will bring furlough leave to an end. However, employees carrying out training should be paid at least National Minimum Wage for the period of time that they undertake training. Furlough payments will be taken into consideration when considering whether National Minimum Wage was paid for the training undertaken.

    How much you can claim

    For employees on a salary you can claim back 80% or £2,500 per employee per month, whichever is lower based on their salary as of 28th February 2020. Employers can choose to top up this amount to 100% if they wish to do so, however they do not have to do so. Employees should not provide any services for the company whilst they are furloughed, regardless of the amount of pay they are receiving.

    For employees whose pay varies, for those who have been employed for 12 months employers can pay the higher of the following:

    • Same month’s earnings from the previous year
    • Average monthly earnings from 2019-20 tax year

    If an employee has been employed for less than 12 months, employers can claim for 80% of their average monthly earnings from the date they started up until the date they were furloughed.

    Employees on furlough do not need to receive National Minimum Wage based on their normal working hours (with the exception of Apprentices who need to be paid the appropriate rate for any training they undertake). However, employees should receive National Minimum Wage for any hours spent undertaking training.

    What you will need to make a claim
    Employers should discuss with their staff and make any changes to the employment contract by agreement. Employers may need to seek legal advice on the process. If sufficient numbers of staff are involved, it may be necessary to engage collective consultation processes to procure agreement to changes to terms of employment.

    To claim, you will need:

    • your employer PAYE reference number
    • the number of employees being furloughed
    • National Insurance Numbers for the furloughed employees
    • names of the furloughed employees
    • payroll/employee number for the furloughed employees (optional)
    • your Self-Assessment Unique Taxpayer Reference or Corporation Tax Unique Taxpayer Reference or Company Registration Number
    • the claim period (start and end date)
    • amount claimed (per the minimum length of furloughing of 3 consecutive weeks)
    • your bank account number and sort code
    • your contact name
    • your phone number

    This scheme is new to us all and with new guidance being released every day, so it is important that you continue to monitor this. Should you need any further advice on the Furlough scheme please do not hesitate to contact your advisor who will be happy to assist.


    Updated documents

    We have updated our Site Works Risk Assessment on our website. Please see below:
    SK-Coronavirus-Site-Works-Risk-Assessment-V6Download

     


    And something for your kids…

    Twinkl have produced a fantastic project for children to do at home – a 2020 Coronavirus Time Capsule. Twinkl has thousands of teaching resources which they’re currently offering for free, so why not check out their website to see what else they have to offer.


    16 April

    Furlough scheme extended to include more employees

    The government have released further guidance on the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme on 15th April, which has extended the cut-off date for when employees started new jobs.

    EDIT:

    As you will be aware, the situation we currently find ourselves in is ever changing and unprecedented. There have now been further developments following our earlier email, there has been a directive issued by HM Treasury to the HMRC in line with the Coronavirus Act 2020 and it is important that employers act based on this updated guidance. 

    On the whole, the details provided earlier, below, are in line with the guidance. However, there are some key areas that need to be highlighted that may have an effect on you. 

    The most significant change in the guidance now states that to claim furlough, both employer and employee have to have a written agreement regarding the terms of their change of status to that of a furloughed worker. Initially it was understood we could impose a period of furlough should you have a temporary lay-off clause, either in their contract, or in the employee handbook. Because of this new guidance, we would advise, if you have imposed a period of furlough, that you now issue the below letter requesting their agreement retrospectively.

    As stated within the attached letter, their agreement can be provided in an email. The letter also states that they agree not to carry out any work whilst on furlough. It is advised that this letter is now sent out to all employees who have been furloughed who haven’t previously signed to say they consent to be furloughed. Should you have any questions regarding this change we would encourage you to contact your HR Advisor. 

     

    The original cut-off date was 28th February 2020, however this has now been extended to 19th March 2020, the day before the scheme was announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak. This now means that thousands of individuals who previously did not qualify for the scheme because of their start date, will now be eligible to be furloughed.

    As per our previous updates, it is hoped that the scheme will be operational as early as the 20th April, for claims to be submitted and it is expected that these will take a few days to process, whilst the government undertakes the relevant checks before any payments are made.

    A review has concluded that the time frame should be extended and now any employee that was on an Employer’s PAYE payroll on or before 19th March, will be eligible to be furloughed. HMRC must have been notified that the employee was on the payroll through RTI submissions on or before 19th March. This is important for employers to check, to ensure that individuals are eligible for the scheme, as employees could have started working before 19th March, however if the company’s pay run means that they have not yet been notified to HMRC through RTI submissions, they are unlikely to be eligible for the scheme.

    The extension also applies to employees who left their previous employer. Employees that were employed as of 28th February 2020 and on payroll, who were either made redundant or left employment before the 19th March, can also now qualify for the scheme if their former employer is happy to re-employ them and place them on ‘furlough’. Employers can re-employ individuals after the 19th March and ‘furlough’ them.

    An employer is eligible to claim through the scheme in respect of employees of a previous business transferred after 19th March, if either the TUPE or PAYE business succession rules apply.

    Claims can begin when the employees finished work and started furlough, not when the decision was made or the employees were written to, to confirm the decision.

    National Minimum wage
    Those that have been furloughed and therefore receiving the lower of 80% of their normal wages or £2,500, can receive this amount even if this means, based on their normal contracted working hours, that it would bring them below the normal appropriate minimum wage. Nevertheless, time spent as training is classed as working time for the purpose of the working time calculations and therefore must be paid at the appropriate minimum wage rates, taking into account the increases that took effect from 1st April 2020, which we discussed in a previous update.

    What you can claim for
    As previously discussed, you can claim the lower of £2,500 or 80% of an employee’s wages. Updated guidance now states that for salaried employees, this can be as of their last pay period up to 19th March 2020. 

    For employees with more than 12 months’ service whose wages vary, you can claim the higher of:

    • Same month’s earnings from the previous year
    • Average monthly earnings from the 2019-20 tax year

    If an employee has been employed for less than 12 months, then an 80% average of their monthly earnings to date can be taken.

    Past Overtime, Fees, Commission, Bonuses and non-cash payments
    You can claim for any regular payments you are obliged to pay your employees. This includes wages, past overtime, fees and compulsory commission payments. However, discretionary bonus (including tips) and commission payments and non-cash payments should be excluded.

    Payroll Consolidation
    Where a group of companies have multiple PAYE schemes and there has been a transfer of all the employees into a new consolidated scheme after 19th March 2020, the new scheme will be eligible to furlough these employees and claim the grant. 

    Employers are also entitled to furlough employees who are being shielded, are on long term sick or are unable to work due to caring responsibilities resulting from CVOID-19 outbreak. The latest government guidance has clarified employees who are shielding in line with Public Health guidance, or need to stay at home with someone else who is shielding, can be furloughed. 

    Employees on Sick
    Employees who are on sick leave or self-isolating because of the Coronavirus will be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay from day one. The job retention scheme is not intended to cover short term absences and therefore employees should not be furloughed in this situation. However, if businesses want to furlough individuals for a business reason and they are currently off sick, as long as they are eligible to do so, employers can furlough these individuals.

    The individual would no longer receive SSP and will instead be classed as a furloughed worker. The decision is for the employer as to whether they shield sick employees or those who are shielding. Employers are able to claim back through the job retention scheme and SSP for the same employee, however not for the same period, an employee is either sick or furloughed at any given time. 

    Employees becoming sick whilst on furlough  
    Employees who have been furloughed retain their statutory rights, including the right to Sick Pay. This means if a furloughed employee becomes sick they must be paid at least SSP. It is up to the employer to decide whether to keep these employees on furlough or to move them on to SSP. If an employee moves onto SSP and the absence is not related to the Coronavirus, then employers will be responsible for paying the SSP themselves and will not be able to claim this back. However, should they decide to keep the employee as furloughed, they will be able to continue to make a claim for the employee through the Job Retention Scheme.

    What you will need to make a claim
    You must ensure that you either seek agreement to changes employees’ contracts of employment or that you already have the contractual right to do so. It may be necessary to look at collective consultation if it involves the relevant number of staff. 

    To claim, you will need:

    • your employer PAYE reference number
    • the number of employees being furloughed
    • National Insurance Numbers for the furloughed employees
    • Names of the furloughed employees
    • Payroll/employee number for the furloughed employees (optional)
    • your Self Assessment Unique Taxpayer Reference or Corporation Tax Unique Taxpayer Reference or Company Registration Number
    • the claim period (start and end date)
    • amount claimed (per the minimum length of furloughing of 3 consecutive weeks)
    • your bank account number and sort code
    • your contact name
    • your phone number

    You will need to calculate the amount you are claiming. HMRC will retain the right to retrospectively audit all aspects of your claim. You should keep records for up to 5 years.

    If you have fewer than 100 furloughed staff you will be asked to enter details of each employee you are claiming for directly into the system – this will include their name, National Insurance number, claim period and claim amount, and payroll/employee number (optional).

    If you have 100 or more furloughed staff you will be asked to upload a file with the information, rather than input it directly into the system. They will accept the following file types: .xls .xlsx .csv .ods. The file should include the following information for each furloughed employee: 

    • Name
    • National Insurance number
    • claim period and claim amount
    • payroll/employee number (optional)

    HSE guidance on carrying out thorough examination and testing of lifting and pressure equipment

    HSE recognises the potential challenges when carrying out legal requirements for thorough examination and testing (TE&T) of plant and equipment as a result of the additional precautions people need to take to help reduce the risk of transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19) and has produced guidance to help industry during this period

    Inspection engineers are supporting GB industry to maintain operations and viability by prioritising critical industries and the protection of equipment aiding vulnerable persons. 

    Operators of such equipment must still make all reasonable efforts to ensure that social distancing measures in the workplace aren’t perceived to be a barrier to carrying out TE&T.

    Businesses and inspection bodies should cooperate to ensure access to plant and equipment for TE&T continues to schedule. This includes businesses arranging access for visiting inspectors to undertake thorough examinations at businesses that are currently closed (either by choice or due to COVID-19 related legislation).

    If the coronavirus outbreak means your businesses is unable to meet its obligations for TE&T, this guidance includes a risk-based process to determine whether there are steps you can take to safely continue to use equipment critical for essential work, or if you must decide to stop using the equipment.

    The law for Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER) and Pressure Systems Safety Regulations (PSSR) remain in place and businesses must continue to make ensure that equipment is safe to use.


    Now you can go (virtual) sightseeing

    Live Safari: Beyond Travel in collaboration with wildlife broadcasting experts WildEarth, have started to stream (in real time) twice-daily, three-hour long game drives from Ngala Private Game Reserve and Djuma Private Game Reserve in South Africa. You can view the safaris between 8.00am–11.00am and 5.30pm–8.30pm on YouTube.

    Wonders of the World: Although many of the world’s most iconic landmarks are closed, you can still visit them ‘virtually’ online through a variety of website, including Machu PicchuChrist the RedeemerPyramids of GizaTaj MahalThe Great Wall of China and Chichén Itzá, Mexico

    National Parks: Many national parks across the world are offering virtual tours of their grounds. In the US, Google Earth has teamed up with the National Parks Service to offer visual experiences of some of America’s most iconic parks, such as Yosemite and Yellowstone – simply go to Google Earth and type in your desired destination.


    15 April

    Adapting to change

    Many businesses are having to adapt or change the way that they work during the current crisis. One of our clients has done just that, by changing their business model entirely.

    Greg Thatcher of Blakes Meats Ltd realised the seriousness of the current situation when he and his family caught their flight home from their holiday in Austria, and Austria effectively closed to the outside world behind them.

    Soon after, he saw his company’s orders go from 100% to 0% in just three days, prompting an urgent Cobra meeting with his team.

    Blakes Meats Ltd usually supplies meat to caterers and educational establishments, so it was decided that they would change from a business to business, to a business to consumer model. However, looking to the future, rather than change Blakes Meats, they created a totally new brand: Brighton Express Meats.

    It was a steep learning curve as Greg built a brand new e-commerce website, using Wix, and ordered flyers for distribution through local letterboxes. Social media played a large part in getting the message out there too – one post had a reach of 26k!

    Brighton Express Meats’ initial target audience was the over 65s, as many of them now had to rely on food deliveries. The website offers a wide range of products, but the most popular have proved to be the meat packs, which can be produced for 1-2/3-4 people etc. Currently, they are receiving around 150 orders per day.

    The majority of the staff from Blakes Meat have been transferred to the new business, with just a handful being furloughed. However, Greg acknowledged how fantastic his staff have been, how they understood the situation and how some even offered to take furlough to help.

    When asked if he had any advice for businesses in a similar situation, Greg said that the lessons learned were:

    • Get the best management team you can find – it’s all about the people
    • Be honest with everyone
    • Make sure your business is agile
    • Keep your finger on the pulse regarding technology, e.g. route planning software
    • Stress test your business – look at forecasts, cashflow, budgets etc – how would you survive if you suddenly lost 50% of your business? Ask yourself some brutal questions.

    How cross-contamination works

    The HSE performed some research at its Buxton base, regarding the 2m distancing rule and hand washing, as featured in a short video by the BBC.

    The results are quite an eye-opener – your hands may be clean, but what about the sink?…

    You can watch the clip here.


    Updated documents

    We have updated some of our useful documents, below. Please see the top of the page for our other documents and check back for further updates regularly.


    Self-Employment Income Support Scheme update

    The government announced a scheme that will allow self-employed individuals to claim for a taxable grant of up to 80% of your trading profits, to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next three months. Here we lay out the key information, but if you need further help, please don’t hesitate to contact your advisor as usual.

    To be eligible to apply you must be self-employed or a be a member of a partnership and:

    • Have submitted your income self-assessment tax return for 2018-19
    • Have traded in 2019-20
    • Are still trading, or would have been had it not been for COVID 19
    • Intend to continue to trade in the tax year 20-21
    • Have lost trade/partnership trading due to COVID 19

     To qualify your profits should be less than £50,000 and more than half or your income should come from self-employment. This will be determined as follows:

    • Have trading/ partnership trading profits in 2018-19 of less than £50,000 and these profits should constitute more than half your taxable income
    • Have average trading profits in 2016-16. 2017-18 and 2018-19 of less than £50,000 and these profits to constitute half your taxable income.

    If you started trading between 2016-19, HMRC will only use those years you have filled in and filed a Self-Assessment tax form for.

    How much you will get
    You will receive a taxable grant of up to 80% or a maximum of £2,500, of the average profits from tax years (where applicable):

    • 2016 to 2017
    • 2017 to 2018
    • 2018 to 2019

    This will be calculated by adding together the 3 years profit (where applicable) and dividing this by 3. Any grant will be paid directly into your bank account in one instalment and will be payable for up to 3 months. 

    How to apply 
    The scheme is not yet up and running and therefore presently you cannot apply for this grant. HMRC will contact your directly if you are eligible for the scheme and invite you to apply online.

    Once you have applied for the scheme, HMRC will contact when they have received your claim to let you know what you are eligible for and how and when you will receive the grant.  If you are claiming tax credits, you will need to include the grant in your income.

    Other help available
    The government has put in place other measures to help the self-employed during the COVID-19 outbreak such as:

    • deferral of Self-Assessment income tax payments due in July 2020 and VAT payments due from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020
    • grants for businesses that pay little or no business rates
    • increased amounts of Universal Credit
    • Business Interruption Loan Scheme

    Advice on social distancing for transport businesses

    Public Health England (PHE) has published a list of tailored advice for different scenarios as an example of how social distancing and other measures might be implemented by employers in England to help protect their workforce and customers from coronavirus while still continuing to trade.

    Social distancing should be maintained where possible but the Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) recognises that on many forms of transport, staff will not always be able to stay 2 metres away from each other or passengers. Some examples of advice given are below:

    • If workers have to share enclosed spaces such as the cabs of vehicles, they should keep the window open for ventilation and they should be careful to avoid touching their face at all times. On leaving the enclosed space, they should wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or more or use hand sanitiser when they cannot wash their hands.
    • For the use of private vehicles or when car pooling, if the journey is essential, such as travel to work, and there is no option but to share a car with people who are not part of the same household, journeys should be shared with the same individuals and with the minimum number of people at any one time.
    • Good ventilation (i.e. keeping the windows open) and facing away from each other may help to reduce the risk.
    • Private vehicles that are used by people from multiple households should be cleaned regularly using gloves and standard cleaning products with particular emphasis on handles and other areas where passengers may touch surfaces.

    More information on different scenarios and advice can be found here.


    A bit of light relief

    One positive that can be taken from the current situation is how various organisations have enabled us to see and hear so many things we wouldn’t ordinarily get the chance to. We have complied a short list of some of the latest initiatives that you might enjoy:

    • Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals for free: A different Lloyd Webber musical will stream each week on The Shows Must Go On!, a new YouTube channel devoted to this project. Each show will go live on the channel on Friday at 7pm BST (2pm EDT, 4am AEST), and will remain viewable for 48 hours afterward. So far they have shown Joseph and Jesus Christ Superstar
    • National Theatre at Home: While they’re closed, the National Theatre is showing some of its greatest productions for free, on their YouTube channel. This week’s picks include Jane Eyre, and Treasure Island (great for the kids)
    • Virtual Aurora Tours: Lights Over Lapland are giving people the chance to get a taste of their fabulous location via virtual reality. One of their videos captures a typical day in Lapland: You start at the world famous Icehotel before traveling north to the shoreline of Lake Torneträsk where you watch the waves gently roll in. You then head south to Rautas to spend a few minutes with a herd of reindeer before hopping on a sled and moving through pure Arctic Wilderness. Finally, you head back to Abisko and visit the Sami hut at the STF. After a long day of exploring you finally get to see the northern lights dancing in the sky above Abisko National Park, Sweden.

    9th April

    Coronavirus now reportable under RIDDOR

    If there is a possibility that someone caught Coronavirus in the workplace, it is now reportable under RIDDOR.

    You must only make a report under RIDDOR (The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013) when:  

    • an unintended incident at work has led to someone’s possible or actual exposure to coronavirus. This must be reported as a dangerous occurrence. 
    • a worker has been diagnosed as having COVID 19 and there is reasonable evidence that it was caused by exposure at work. This must be reported as a case of disease. 
    • a worker dies as a result of occupational exposure to coronavirus.

    What to report   

    Dangerous occurrences: If something happens at work which results in (or could result in) the release or escape of coronavirus, you must report this as a dangerous occurrence. An example of a dangerous occurrence would be a lab worker accidentally smashing a glass vial containing coronavirus, leading to people being exposed.  

    Cases of disease: exposure to a biological agent: If there is reasonable evidence that someone diagnosed with COVID-19 was likely exposed because of their work, you must report this as an exposure to a biological agent using the case of disease report. An example of a work-related exposure to coronavirus would be a health care professional who is diagnosed with COVID-19 after treating patients with COVID-19. 

    Work related fatalities: If someone dies as a result of a work related exposure to coronavirus and this is confirmed as the likely cause of death by a registered medical practitioner, then you must report this as soon as is practical and within 10 days of the death.

    If you need help with RIDDOR reporting, please contact your designated advisor as usual, or call us on 01427 678 660.


    HMRC online portal rumoured to be up and running by 20th April

    Representatives from HMRC have informed a Parliamentary Select Committee that the online portal for furlough payments will be open from Monday 20 April and HMRC will be ready to make payments by Thursday 30 April. It also said that its aim is to process payments within 4-6 working days of receiving the claim. It will be open 24 hours per day, 7 days per week and there will be a queuing system.

    With the huge number of companies trying to access the portal we imagine there will be initial teething problems, so be prepared for this. Please also be aware that should you need to claim back using the portal for furloughed staff, you will be required to have the following:

    • your ePAYE reference number
    • the number of employees being furloughed
    • the claim period (start and end date)
    • amount claimed (per the minimum length of furloughing of 3 consecutive weeks)
    • your bank account number and sort code
    • your contact name
    • your phone number

    You will need to calculate the amount you are claiming. HMRC will retain the right to retrospectively audit all aspects of your claim.

    If you haven’t already set up an ePAYE ref number, you can do it at https://www.gov.uk/paye-online/enrol. Please be aware this takes time, including waiting to receive a code by post, so we would encourage you to act quickly on this and ensure you have the ePAYE set up well in advance of Monday 20th April when the portal is hoped to go live.

    If you already have a HMRC Services account you should be able to add PAYE as a service.


    The HSE has issued additional documents around Legionella safety for use during the current Covid-19 outbreak

    Regulatory Activity During Coronavirus outlines the approach HSE will be taking for the regulation of occupational health and safety during this time. Other risks, including Legionella risk, must still be managed during the outbreak.

    Under UK health and safety laws, all water systems should already have a legionella risk assessment in place. It is likely that this risk assessment will now need to be reconsidered where buildings have low occupancy, or where buildings are empty, as this may pose a significant change to the risk.

    While many buildings are closed, there may be the opportunity to survey and inspect water systems that would not normally be accessible, provided personal risk is managed and the government’s social distancing rules are observed.

    We have advisors with specialist legionella knowledge who would be able to assist with any of the above, so please contact us should you require assistance.


    DVSA: Periodic tachograph calibrations and new requirements for entering France

    Periodic tachograph calibrations and inspections  

    Because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic the DVSA has decided to suspend periodic tachograph calibrations and inspections on vehicles. All lorries, buses, coaches and trailers with a periodic test of their tachograph (calibration or inspection) due to expire will now be given a 3-month extension. New certificates will not be issued. To ensure all tachograph vehicles remain legal whilst the country deals with the coronavirus outbreak, DVSA will be bringing in a relaxation from the legislation.

     

    What this means for your vehicle

    • If your tachograph calibration or inspection is due in the next 3 months, an extension will be issued automatically.
    • You do not need to take any extra action.
    • You’ll still need to keep tachographs operating effectively.
    • If your tachograph develops a fault, this must be repaired in line with the normal requirements.

    New requirements when travelling to France
    In order to curb non-essential travel, all those driving to France, including freight operators, must from now on complete an International Attestation form to confirm that their journey meets the criteria for ‘essential travel’. This is a new requirement introduced by the French authorities in response to the coronavirus outbreak. More information can be found on GOV.UK


    8th April

    Home workers

    We’ve had a few enquiries for Homeworker assessments in the last few weeks, so it’s worth noting the following guidelines from the DSE (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations.

    Risk assessments should be conducted for employees who are DSE users and work from home, whether or not the workstation is supplied in whole or in part by the employer. For example, the employer may have provided the DSE but not the furniture.

    The guidance to the DSE Regulations suggests that it is easiest to conduct such an assessment by providing a checklist for the employee to complete and return. Specifically, it should cover any need for special training or information to compensate for their lack of direct contact with the employer.

    In light of this, we are sharing a standard (not Coronavirus-specific) Homeworker Hazard Checklist, which includes a comprehensive list of questions that may help keep your workers safe.

    There is also some helpful guidance for working from home in the Useful Documents section above. In addition to these, T2 Hub has produced a useful PDF around maximising your energy levels while working from home – something many of us may find useful now that we’re a few weeks in!


    2 metre rule strengthened for Welsh employers

    All employers in Wales are being told to do their best to keep workers two metres (6ft) apart or face a fine, as a new law comes into force.

    Companies are being asked to take “reasonable measures” to keep staff healthy during the coronavirus crisis. The Welsh Government believes the move is necessary after some employees complained they were not social distancing at work.

    Police and councils will have the power to enforce the rules and will be able to issue fines of between £60 and £120.

    But business organisation CBI Wales said the way the law had been introduced had caused companies “great difficulties”.

    First Minister Mark Drakeford said the new rules are not an “absolute ban” on people working closer together than two metres. 

    Instead, he urged employers to take “all reasonable measures” to ensure the health and safety of workers, adding that the law will largely be “self-policing”.

    Source: BBC

    The government has produced more specific advice about the 2 metre rule, for a variety of businesses, including:

    • Shops running a pick-up or delivery service
    • Tradespeople working in people’s homes
    • Construction
    • Manufacturing and processing businesses
    • Retail
    • Logistics businesses
    • Outdoor businesses
    • Farming
    • Fishing and other short-term offshore work
    • Cargo-shipping or other long-term offshore work
    • Transport businesses
    • Waste management businesses

    You can read the full guidance here.


    How the Hospitality Industry can find a way through

    Ronnie White, one of our Health and Safety Advisors has produced the following advice for our hospitality industry clients.

    The hospitality industry has been one of the sectors most badly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Across the UK, all pubs, bars and restaurants have had to close their doors and shut up shop, in order to abide by the unprecedented measures ordered by the Government.

    Although these measures may have provided some certainty to operators after days of confusion, they will also doubtless breed fear and concern among the leisure and retail sector alike. With premises forced to completely close, the hospitality industry faces a period of huge change and re-adjustment.

    Staying above water
    With an uncertain road ahead, the future prosperity of businesses and workforces will be a major concern. As most are facing entire income streams being lost, businesses are having to prioritise reduction of costs and cash flow management. To stay afloat during this crisis, maintaining strong communication lines between all stakeholders will be vital.

    High on the agenda will be supporting staff and preventing a slew of redundancies. Operators will have invested considerable time and money in training their teams and establishing their working culture. It is imperative that they maintain the goodwill of their staff and engage with them as much as possible through the crisis to ensure their investment is not wasted and their teams provide continuity and consistency when the business is able to re-open its doors. Fortunately, the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention scheme should help with this, by lessening the burden of keeping staff on the payroll during this time period. The scheme enables businesses to register employees who can no longer work as ‘furloughed workers’ through HMRC’s online portal, which then requires HMRC to reimburse up to 80% of these wages (which is capped at £2,500 per month). However, the Government still needs to establish how this scheme will operate in practice. Urgent clarification is now needed on when the reimbursement scheme will be up and running and how it will apply to specific circumstances.

    The Government has also announced that all hospitality, retail and leisure businesses across the UK, irrespective of their rateable value (R.V.), will not have to pay business rates for the 2020/21 tax year. In addition, those businesses operating on smaller premises, with a R.V. between £15,000 and £51,000, will receive a £25,000 cash grant.

    Further action has been taken by the Government to ensure that commercial property landlords cannot evict tenants for the next three months due to non-payment of rent. Whilst this will provide some security for businesses whilst they get their finances in order, obtaining lasting relief from rental obligations will be vital throughout this crisis, and so negotiations between operators and landlords must continue to achieve a sensible and sustainable outcome.

    Another measure implemented by the Government is the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan scheme. Businesses with a turnover of less than £45m will be able to borrow up to £5m from banks, with the Government providing security for up to 80% of the loan. With the first 12-months also interest free, these loans can provide short-term liquidity and help to bridge the gap until other government support measures are felt. However, whilst these loans may provide businesses with relief in the short-term, it is important that they consider the longer term implications of taking on the burden of further debt. Additionally, many operators are struggling to agree sensible terms quickly with their banks, so it is still unclear as to whether these businesses in need of a fast, short-term loan facility will actually find this scheme effective.

    Businesses have also been looking to maintain income through alternative streams, for example by changing their offering to takeaway or delivery. However, following the further restrictions implemented by the Government, restaurants may need to discuss with delivery platforms to ensure they are able to continue such offerings. Alternative measures to alleviate cash flows have included offering vouchers that require up-front payment now to be redeemed in future, when operations recommence.

    Going forward
    Although difficult times lie ahead for the hospitality sector, businesses must plan ahead for when normality eventually returns. For the time-being, retaining both staff and customer loyalty is a must. The continuity and commitment of staff will prove crucial when normality returns. Additionally, customers will look to how local businesses have contributed to the local community during a period of crisis, so keeping customers engaged throughout the process is critical for when their regular social lives begin again in earnest. 

    For ensuring the return goes as smoothly as possible, having tight recovery strategies in place is also crucial.

    This includes: 

    • Carefully modelling supply to meet demand, including making sure that stock is not over-ordered (but still sufficient for customer requirements).
    • Ensuring that not too many staff are not taken out of furloughed status too early.
    • Additionally, larger businesses operating on multiple sites must consider whether it is financially viable to re-open all sites, or if key sites should be prioritised initially.

    With news of the coronavirus affecting the global economy dominating the headlines, it is easy for businesses to feel overwhelmed. However, when the peak of the disruption is over, attention must be turned to recovery. 

    Being proactive and ensuring that a clear strategy is in place, alongside utilising the support measures provided by the Government, will enable the UK hospitality industry to transition back to normality as smoothly as possible.

    For those businesses that are currently operational, please also see our Guidance for Food Businesses on Coronavirus.


    6th April

    Updates on the Job Retention Scheme

    Over the weekend the Government released further guidance on the Job Retention Scheme. Please see the additional information below.

    Job Retention Scheme 
    Since the scheme was first announced a couple of weeks ago, the Government have released further clarification on the scheme in a piecemeal fashion. Over the weekend, further guidance has been given on the scheme:

    • The online service is still not yet up and running, however, it is hoped to be by the end of April. Any employers whose operations have been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak can furlough employees and apply for a grant for up to 80% of their salary, or £2,500, per employee per month, whichever is lower, plus the additional costs such as Employer National Insurance contribution and minimum auto enrolment contributions. Employers can choose to top up an individual’s salary, however, they will not be able to claim for anything above the 80%. Whilst on furlough individuals should not provide any services for the business.
    • The grants can be claimed for the date that employees finish and starts furlough, not when the decision is made or confirmed to the individual in writing. The company will need to keep records of the employees being furloughed and these should be kept on file for up to 5 years. 
    • Companies can claim for any regular payments they are obliged to pay their employees. This includes wages, overtime, fees and compulsory commission. This does not include discretionary bonuses.

    Length of furlough
    The minimum length of period an individual can be furloughed for is 3 weeks. When they return to work they must be taken off furlough. Employees can be furloughed multiple times, however, each occasion should be for the minimum period of three weeks. 

    Working for a different employer
    If allowed within the contract of employment, employees are permitted to work for another employer whilst they have been furloughed.

    What type of employee can be furloughed
    It has already been clarified that salaried, hourly paid, employees on flexible or zero hours contracts and agency workers can be furloughed. The Government have given further clarification on other types of employee:

    • Apprentices: This type of employee can be furloughed in the same way as other employees and they can continue to train whilst furloughed, however whilst they are training employers should pay at least the Apprentice National Minimum Wage, National Minimum or National Living Wage, whichever is appropriate, for the time spent on training. These rates recently increased from 1st April (link to Fridays update)
    • Public Sector employees: Where employers receive public funding for staff costs, it is not expected that these employees will be furloughed. This also applies to non-public sector workers who receive public funding. In some circumstances where organisations are not primarily funded by the government and whose staff cannot be redeployed, the scheme will be applicable.
    • Ex-employees who stopped working for you after 28th February: If an employee was either made redundant or they stopped working for the employer after 28th February, employers can re-employ them and place them onto furlough. Any employee, taken on after 28th February will not be eligible for the scheme. 
    • Employees on unpaid leave, self-isolating on sick leave or shielding: Any employees that started unpaid leave after 28th February can be claimed for under the scheme. Employees who are in receipt of Statutory Sick Pay cannot also be furloughed, however, once their claim for SSP has ended they can be placed on furlough. 
    • Employees who are shielding or who are staying at home with someone who is shielding: In line with public health guidelines they can be furloughed if they cannot work from home and you would otherwise have made them redundant.
    • Employees who have caring responsibilities: Employees unable to work, as they have caring responsibilities due to the effects of COVID-19 can be furloughed.
    • Employees on a fixed term contract: This type of employee can be furloughed and their contracts can be renewed or extended within  the furlough period. Where a fixed terms contract comes to an end and it is not renewed or extended, these individuals will ceases to be eligible of the scheme.

    Non-employees
    The grant can be claimed for individuals who fit into the following group, if they are paid via PAYE:

    • Office holders, such as Directors
    • Salaried members of limited liability partnerships
    • Agency workers
    • Limb b workers

    Construction Sites COVID-19 Guidance

    We will be producing regular downloadable bulletins offering useful guidance for businesses during the current situation. The first of which gives comprehensive guidance for those managing and working on construction sites.

    We have also produced a screening questionnaire to establish whether it is safe for individuals to work. If you would like a copy of this, please contact your designated advisor as usual.


    Coronavirus: A joint statement between HSE, the TUC and the CBI

    This is an extremely worrying time for firms and workers. We know many workers, union reps and employers have questions and concerns about safe working – especially for those continuing to work away from home.

    This joint statement between the Health and Safety Executive, the TUC and the CBI is intended to clarify the position.

    The health and safety of workers remains paramount. Employers are and must continue to provide workers with information about risks to their health and the actions their employers must take.

    Social distancing is a key public health measure introduced by Public Health England to reduce the spread of infection. Most employers are going to great lengths to ensure social distancing wherever possible. The HSE, CBI and TUC wish to publicly support these efforts. Firms that can safely stay open and support livelihoods should not be forced to close by misunderstandings about government guidance.

    But If it comes to the HSE’s attention that employers are not complying with the relevant Public Health England guidance (including enabling social distancing where it is practical to do so), HSE will consider a range of actions ranging from providing specific advice to employers through to issuing enforcement notices, including prohibition notices.

    Where a worker has a genuine concern about health and safety which cannot be resolved through speaking with their employer or trade union, they should contact the relevant enforcement agency – either their local authority, or the HSE through https://www.hse.gov.uk/contact/concerns.htm

    For firms who are unsure about the guidance, please visit https://www.hse.gov.uk/news/social-distancing-coronavirus.htm


    3rd April

    Updated Coronavirus Policy and Risk Assessment

    We have updated our free Policy and Risk Assessments. Please keep checking back to see that you have the latest versions and bear in mind that these are generic documents and will need adapting for individual businesses.

    How furloughed pay works for employees

    If you are furloughed, your pay should still be paid on the normal pay date each month and employees should not go without pay until June, albeit this could be reduced to 80% (up to £2,500) in line with the government guidance. Failure by companies to pay employees on their normal pay dates could lead to claims of breach of contract and ultimately constructive dismissal claims. If companies are struggling to meet wage bill costs, it is strongly advised to look at the Business Interruption Loan Scheme the government have set up along with the Small Business Grants.

    Pension payments while furloughed

    Under the Government Job Retention Scheme as well as being able to claim up to 80% (up to a maximum of £2,500 per employee per month), the government will also be covering Employer National Insurance contributions and the minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions, meaning that employees will continue to receive pension payments, in line with the government guidelines.

    Fraud

    We’ve all seen examples of the good that people are doing at the moment, but sadly, there are still people who take advantage of situations like this to commit fraud and scams.

    Simple steps you can take to protect yourself are:

    Some examples we’ve heard of:

    Tax refunds
    Criminals have created a variation on an existing fraud – an email that looks as if it comes from the tax office, saying you’ve overpaid and are owed a refund. The new variation says the refund is due because of coronavirus. It asks you to click a link to access your funds, again leading to a fraudulent site that puts you at risk. 
    Don’t click on these emails: delete them immediately. This is not how HMRC would tell you about a potential refund. 

    Phishing emails
    Fraudsters purporting to be from a research group that mimic the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organisation (WHO). They claim to provide the victim with a list of active infections in their area, but to access this information the victim needs to either: 

    • click on a link which redirects them to a credential-stealing page
    • or make a donation of support in the form of a payment into a Bitcoin account. 

    There are also emails circulating purporting to be from the NHS, asking for donations.

    It has got so bad that the WHO has issued a warning on its website. It makes it clear that the World Health Organisation will: 

    • never ask for your username or password to access safety information 
    • never email attachments you didn’t ask for 
    • never ask you to visit a link outside of www.who.int  
    • never charge money to apply for a job, register for a conference, or reserve a hotel 
    • never conduct lotteries or offer prizes, grants, certificates or funding via email. 

    Coronavirus news updates
    Fraudsters providing articles about the virus outbreak with a link to a fake company website where victims are encouraged to click to subscribe to a daily newsletter for further updates. 

    Schools Amazon gift cards scam
    We have heard of schools being targeted with emails purporting to be from the headteacher or senior manager to a member of staff, asking them to reward the staff that have been going above and beyond, with Amazon gift cards. They are asked to visit the Amazon website and purchase several gift cards, using the school/company credit card or procurement system, and then send the gift card codes to the headteacher to then circulate amongst the employees. Obviously, they never arrive and the fraudsters receive all of the codes, along with the Amazon account details. Other organisations, aside from schools, have also been targeted with a similar scam.

    PPE, masks, gloves and hand sanitizer scam
    Bogus websites are preying on front-line workers desperate for masks, gloves and hand sanitizer by falsely claiming to sell much-needed PPE.

    One scam website was rumbled after exploiting a legitimate Birmingham company, run by a Midlands doctor, to try and profiteer from the crisis, Birmingham City Council’s Trading Standards said. Despite appearing ‘convincing’, the scammers had stolen the identity of A & G Medical Ltd, which never had its own site, to set up a website using a US domain server. Those behind it purported to be able to supply large quantities of masks, gloves and sanitizer immediately, all the while demanding half the deposit paid upfront.

    The Action Fraud website can be used to report any scams or fraudulent activity and also publishes daily updates about new scams, as well as offering lots of advice about keeping safe.

    CITB help and advice for the construction industry

    Wellbeing
    CITB is funding the training of mental health first aid instructors for many in the industry. Instructors have come from employers, federations and clients. The training is provided by Mental Health First Aid England and the project has been managed on behalf of industry by the Lighthouse Club. This is a charity dedicated to the health and wellbeing of construction workers and their families. The charity’s Construction Industry Helpline is needed now more than ever, with a recent increase in calls of at least 25%, while there’s also a helpline app you can download here.

    Support for the NHS
    Construction is under extreme pressure right now, but the NHS also needs your sector’s help. The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) in England; Industry Wales; and the Scottish Government are asking employers to provide resources, wherever possible, including:

    • PPE such as masks, gowns, and sanitiser
    • Accommodation
    • Transport and logistics for moving goods or people
    • Manufacturing equipment
    • Warehouse or office space for medical use or storage
    • Expert advice or consultancy in IT, manufacturing, construction, project management, procurement, or engineering.

    CITB will be offering support in the form of PPE from their National Construction Colleges and potentially accommodation at Bircham Newton. If you would like to find out if or how you can help the NHS, please go to this page on the Government website and see also the National Business Response Network.

    Changes to professional driver requirements

    The Government has announced temporary changes to professional driver requirements as part of its response to the coronavirus outbreak.

    Driver CPC periodic training
    During the coronavirus outbreak, it may be difficult for drivers to complete their periodic training. The Department for Transport has therefore put in place temporary changes to professional driver qualification requirements.Professional lorry and bus drivers whose Driver Qualification Card (DQC) expires in the period 1 March 2020 to 30 September 2020 can continue driving.

    Drivers should continue to carry their expired DQC during this period. Find out more about the updated guidance on their website.


    2nd April

    Time for training?

    SK Training is still able to deliver some of its face to face courses via virtual classrooms. All that is needed is a laptop with a webcam. This means that candidates can still interact in the same way as if they were in a classroom, with a tutor leading the training in a live environment, allowing all of the normal interactions and getting answers to questions in real time.

    Courses currently able to be delivered in this way are:

    • IOSH Working Safely
    • IOSH Managing Safely
    • UKATA Asbestos Awareness
    • H&S in a Nutshell
    • Mental Health First Aid Awareness
    • Manual Handling
    • Working at Height

    To find out more, or to discuss any other training requirement, please contact our training team: faye@skaltd.co.uk

    FREE online First Aid Refresher course

    The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has announced a 12-week extension to all First Aid at Work and Emergency First Aid at Work certificates that would have expired after 16 March.

    While this means qualifications will not expire during this time, first aid skills remain important and necessary, perhaps even more so in the light of the COVID-19 outbreak. St John Ambulance want to make sure nobody feels unprepared to provide first aid help when needed, so they’re giving first aiders free access to their online Annual Refresher Course until 1 June. 

    The interactive modules refresh knowledge of the five key life-saving techniques:

    • Chest pains
    • Choking
    • Severe bleeding
    • Recovery position
    • Basic life support and AED (CPR)

    Each module can be done independently, allowing you to dip in and out. A certificate of completion will be available to download once all five modules are finished.

    To register, please visit the St John Ambulance website


    Company directors can furlough their PAYE pay*

    It has been confirmed from the Treasury that limited company directors, even if they’re the only employee, can furlough their PAYE income – i.e. get 80% of their salary up to £2,500 per month. Unfortunately, this help doesn’t apply to those who are paid in dividends. The reason for this is that HMRC find it difficult to separate the dividends you get from your own company from dividends that you get from other sources, such as share income. You may, however, also be able to combine these payments with Universal Credit – find out more about this and other benefits here.

    Unfortunately, unlike the self-employment scheme, if you do take advantage of this scheme, technically you can’t then work for the firm, but you can continue to perform your statutory director’s obligations, e.g. official legal filings. Find out more in limited company help.


    Old employers can rehire you to furlough you* 

    If you left a job after 28 February 2020, that old employer can rehire you to furlough you. The guidance already states they can do this for those they made redundant, yet Martin Lewis’ Money Saving Experts asked the Treasury if this applies to those who left voluntarily (e.g. to start a new job that’s now fallen through), and it has just confirmed it does. Yet while employers can do this, it doesn’t mean they have to. Find out more about how to get your old employer to furlough you

    *Source: Money Saving Expert


    Sport England £20m Community Emergency Fund for clubs and community organisations

    Sport England have released a significant funding package to support clubs during this current time.

    You can find out more about the Community Emergency fund and apply here.

    More information about all their £195m support packages can be found on the Sport England website.


    CITB Skills and Training Funds

    The CITB’s new Skills and Training Fund has been refreshed and now encompasses two strands supporting micro and small companies (up to 100 employees) and medium sized businesses (up to 250 employees) to become a wider offer for employers. 

    The fund comprises of two streams:

    • A Skills and Training Fund for Micro and Small Businesses where businesses can apply for a maximum of £10,000 (full details and how to apply here) depending on the size of the employer
    • A Skills and Training fund for Medium sized businesses where employers with up to 250 employees are eligible to receive up to £25,000 (full details and how to apply here).

    Based on employer need, the fund will allow businesses to define, then address their particular challenges. The focus has broadened from productivity and innovation, to helping employers with business sustainability and skill retention – key concerns for the construction industry at the moment.

    The stream for medium sized businesses includes greater flexibility on funding rules to ensure it addresses employers’ immediate needs. The CITB urges interested employers to contact their local CITB Advisor to talk about how they can make this funding opportunity work for them.

    Leadership and Management Development Fund

    Employers of all sizes need support which is why The CITB’s fund for large companies will be launched on April 14. Its focus will be on the retention of critical skills and investment in leadership and management development and training. More details will follow shortly, so please visit their website to check for update.


    1st April 

    Government support for businesses

    The government has put in place measure for businesses of all sizes, to help them through the current crisis. You can find out about all of the current help available on their website. We have highlighted some of the key topics below…

    Furloughed workers

    As an employer, who could be facing cashflow issues at the moment, you do have the option to furlough workers, rather than making them redundant, putting them on unpaid leave or laying them off. The government has put this system in place to help businesses, so please consider it if you can.

    You are allowed to:

    • Just furlough the staff with no work to do, you don’t have to furlough all staff
    • Furlough staff who need to self-isolate for 12 weeks
    • Furlough staff who have to be at home to look after their children
    • Furlough staff with variable incomes or zero hours contracts
    • Re-hire staff who were on the pay roll on 28th February, and furlough them, whether they left of their own accord or were laid off.

    We have produced letter templates for furloughed workers (please note that these are generic and will need adapting for each business), available as free downloads from the Useful Documents section above.

    Support for businesses through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

    The temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme supports SMEs with access to loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million and for up to 6 years.

    The government will also make a Business Interruption Payment to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees, so smaller businesses will benefit from no up-front costs and lower initial repayments.

    The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to pre-lender cap on claims) to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs. The scheme will be delivered through commercial lenders, backed by the government-owned British Business Bank.

    Eligibility
    You are eligible for the scheme if:

    How to access the scheme
    The scheme is now open for applications. There are 40 accredited lenders able to offer the scheme, including all the major banks.

    To apply, you should talk to your bank or one of the 40 accredited finance providers (not the British Business Bank) as soon as possible, to discuss your business plan. You can find out the latest on the best ways to contact them via their websites. Please note that branches may currently be shut down to enable social distancing.

    The full rules of the scheme and the list of accredited lenders are available on the British Business Bank website.

    If you have an existing loan with monthly repayments you may want to ask for a repayment holiday to help with cash flow.

    Support for self-employed through the Self-employment Income Support Scheme

    The Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will support self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships) who have lost income due to coronavirus (COVID-19).

    This scheme will allow you to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of your trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next 3 months. This may be extended if needed. Claim a grant through the Self-employment Income Support Scheme.


    Tools and guidance for construction workers

    Stallard Kane have produced a new bulletin offering additional guidance for use on construction sites, which covers topics such as toilet facilities, access, meetings, cleaning and more.

    Should you need further advice regarding construction sites, please contact your designated advisor as usual.

    Toolbox Talk to help keep construction workers safe

    To help protect health on construction sites and maintain social distancing during COVID-19, the Construction Industry Training Board

    (CITB) has produced a free toolbox talk for construction workers. Topics covered include travelling to work and what to do if someone thinks they are unwell. There are also posters for supervisors to display in the workplace.


    Logistics professionals

    The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) has launched an initiative to bring together logistics and passenger transport operators in urgent need of supply chain resources.

    The initiative, backed by the Road Haulage Association (RHA), the Freight Transport Association (FTA) and the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) matches organisations together so that those who have capacity can help those organisations in need, such as the NHS and the grocery retail sector.

    Register on the CILT website if:

    • your organisation needs urgent support
    • you’re a driver in need of work
    • your organisation has capacity to support others in need

    Motorway services are open
    Motorway and major trunk road services remain open following advice from the government deeming them ‘essential services’. The government has made it clear that for haulage and delivery drivers, travel is essential and therefore motorway services remain open, and continue to offer takeaway food, toilet and shower services.

    How to keep safe
    The RHA has published guidance for lorry drivers on how to keep safe when delivering goods, handling documentation and refuelling.

    Keep up to date with all official government advice on COVID-19 at GOV.UK.


    Legionella whilst in lock down

    If you have had to close down your buildings, or fewer people are using your buildings during the current crisis, it’s important to ensure that your premises are safe for when your employees return to work.

    Simply put, legionella bacteria growth can occur in standing water in unused water systems. The HSE, in itsTechnical Guidance HSG274 Part 2, states that “where a building, part of a building or water system is taken out of use, it should be managed so that microbial growth, including legionella in the water, is appropriately controlled.”

    They advise that:

    • You should continue to flush your water systems regularly to maintain good circulation and avoid stagnation
    • Aim to keep your hot water hot, your cold water cold and keep the water moving and keep it clean

    If you are not able to do any of the above, your water systems should be recommissioned as though they were new, before the building is occupied again.

    You should also update your Legionella Risk Assessment to reflect any changes.

    If you need any help regarding this issue, please contact your designated advisor or use the contact form on our website.


    Destroying spoilt beer during Coronavirus (COVID-19)

    HMRC has introduced a temporary measure to help brewers and publicans in the destruction of spoilt beer during coronavirus.

    Normally, the destruction of beer must be supervised by a responsible person from the brewery. However, due to social distancing requirements this is currently difficult for brewers and publicans to follow.

    Who can destroy spoilt beer
    Brewers can now appoint the publican or an agreed person at the premises to carry out the destruction of spoilt beer. An Authorised Company Representative (ACR) from the brewery does not need to be present.

    How long will the change apply
    This temporary change will apply while coronavirus social distancing restrictions remain in place.

    What you need to do as a brewer
    You must continue to keep:

    • an audit trail confirming destruction of duty paid beer
    • evidence of a full credit of the duty paid, or replacement of the goods to your customer or the owner of the goods at the time they became spoilt
    • a spoilt beer record

    Evidence they need
    The brewer claiming the relief must be happy that destruction has taken place and keep suitable evidence. For example, evidence can be in the form of a video. The agreed person at the premises can record this and give this to the brewer for their records.


    Coping with stress

    Today marks the start of Stress Awareness Month. Stress Awareness Month has been held every April, since 1992 to increase public awareness about both the causes and cures for our modern stress epidemic.

    Now, more than ever, it’s important to take measures to help manage your stress levels. People are worrying about their health, their loved ones and their finances, all amplified by being cut off from others.

    Stress.org.uk has lots of useful information about stress and how to manage it, which may be worth sharing with your employees. Their key advice includes:

    • Talk about Stress and its effects – work together to reduce the stigma that is associated with stress by talking about the topic openly and freely with friends, family and colleagues.
    • Share your coping mechanisms – if something has worked for you why not share it? It might benefit someone you care about and in the meantime it might help you take your focus off your own challenges.
    • Be nice to those who are stressed and anxious – we are all undoubtedly going to experience stress and anxiety in our lifetime so treat others going through it with compassion and empathy.
    • Look after yourself – we all need to think more about self-care. Take time out of your day to relax or do something that you enjoy. Don’t forget to exercise and eat well, even when you feel too stressed.
    • The most crucial thing you can do when you are stressed or anxious is to make sure you are continuing to look after yourself. Make time to relax when you need to and learn to say no to requests that are too much for you.

    Get creative

    Artists including Sir Antony Gormley, Grayson Perry and Jeremy Deller have shared ideas for activities during the coronavirus lockdown.

    The ideas are being put together by art gallery Firstsite in Colchester, Essex, so people can make art at home. Activities include paper chain designs from Sir Antony and a toilet paper poetry competition from Jeremy Deller.

    ‘Art is where the home is’ will give you ideas about how to get creative at home. Anyone can have a go – there are no specialist materials required, and it’s completely free to download.


    31st March

    Holiday carry over

    The Business Secretary, Alok Sharma announced amendments made to the Working Time Regulations 1998 in the form of The Working Time (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020. This means that employees who have been unable to take their statutory holiday entitlement (equivalent of 4 weeks holiday per year) due to the coronavirus outbreak, will be able to carry over any unused holiday entitlement over the next 2 holiday years.

    In the UK, all employees are entitled to 28 days (pro rata if part time) or the equivalent of 5.6 weeks holiday per year. Usual practice is that if individuals fail to take their annual entitlement within a given holiday period, they would lose that holiday entitlement, with the exceptions being where an employee has been on maternity leave or long term sick. Employers are obliged to ensure that all employees take the statutory entitlement in one holiday year and failure to do so could result in fines against the company. 

    The changes under the new regulations mean that “where it is not reasonably practicable for a worker to take some, or all, of the holiday to which they are entitled due to the coronavirus, employees will be able to carry over up to four weeks unused holiday entitlement for the next two holiday years.” The regulations apply to individuals on hourly paid, zero hour and agency worker contracts.

    The measures have been put in place to ensure that key workers were able to continue the fantastic jobs they are doing in helping the country battle against the coronavirus, without fear of losing out on their holiday entitlement. The measure will also have an impact on workers who have been furloughed due to the coronavirus outbreak, with the government confirming that employers should not look to pay employees in lieu of taking the required holidays.


    Government support for businesses

    The Chancellor has set out a package of temporary, timely and targeted measures to support public services, people and businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19.

    This includes a package of measures to support businesses including:

    • a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
    • deferring VAT and Self-Assessment payments
    • a Self-employment Income Support Scheme
    • a Statutory Sick Pay relief package for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs)
    • a 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery businesses in England
    • small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
    • grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
    • the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank
    • a new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans
    • the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme

    You can find out more about these schemes on the Government’s website.

    Our HR team have produced template letters to help businesses with furloughing workers, which are available to download as Word documents from the Useful Documents section above.


    Coronavirus Policy and Advice update

    We have updated our Coronavirus Policy (available to download from the Useful Documents section above) to cover advice about the Coronavirus on more surfaces. The change is as follows:

    Recent studies have shown that the virus can survive on cardboard for up to 24 hours, plastic and stainless steel for 2 to 3 days but longer on door handles, plastic-coated or laminated worktops and other hard surfaces, possibly up to 9 days, unless cleaned properly, but has found that copper surfaces tend to kill the virus in 4 hours.


    The manufacture and supply of hand sanitiser products

    As we mentioned in yesterday’s update, the Government has relaxed the red tape to allow companies to apply to produce hand sanitiser.

    The HSE has been working closely with Government agencies, manufacturers and trade associations to help ensure that the increased demand can be met. They have subsequently published comprehensive guidance on how to apply for a derogation from the requirements for product authorisations for propan-2-ol/isopropanol hand sanitiser products. The full article can be found on their website.


    Keeping the children entertained

    In addition to the activities and links we’ve written about previously, the NHS Change 4 Life website has lots of advice and activity suggestions to help keep children entertained and active – you’ll probably enjoy a lot of them yourself!


    30th March 2020

    Government supports construction businesses to stay open

    Nadhim Zahawi, under-secretary of state for business, has reaffirmed that house-building and other construction work must keep going to help the economy survive the devastation of the coronavirus pandemic.

    While Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon and London mayor Sadiq Khan have acted to close down construction sites, the position of the UK government remains firmly that all work that cannot be done from home should continue, on the condition that all workers remain two metres apart and observe all other Public Health coronavirus guidelines.

    Nadhim Zahawi writes in The Daily Telegraph today: “The last few weeks have been tough, as infections and deaths due to Covid-19 rise, and as we adjust to the new social rules we must live by. Horrendously, we know the coming weeks will be harder still, before the measures brought in start to take effect and as we travel towards the peak of the virus

    “That framework of rules was enacted with a heavy heart; no British prime minister wants to restrict the daily lives of citizens, close businesses or ban gatherings. Every one of us is being forced the learn to live differently, but there is no other option.

    “However, we have seen some, intentionally or otherwise, wrongly interpreting the current rules and unfairly criticising businesses that are implementing the rules correctly.”

    He continues: “It has therefore been disappointing that those who feel the need to criticise any and all private sector work have started attacking companies for staying open when their work cannot be done remotely. It does not matter whether they appear on that key worker list, what matters is that they follow the rules our government has set out.

    “These businesses need to be defended because we need to minimise the damage to our economy where possible, and be ready to spring back into action as soon as this lockdown is over. There will always be some work that cannot be done from home, whether it is construction or packing boxes in an Amazon warehouse – but we still need houses built and for deliveries to be made. If the scientific view changes, and all of this work becomes too high risk, the government will update its advice. But until then businesses should not be criticised for following the rules.”

    He concludes: “These are difficult times for business. We cannot allow those who hate the private sector to use this crisis as an excuse to pile unfair criticism on them. We should stand up for those that are correctly following the rules. They are the same companies we will need to help fund our recovery when we finally get through this.”

    Source: The Construction Index

    We have produced a free Coronavirus Policy and a site-specific Risk Assessment (downloadable as Word documents in the useful documents section above). We encourage all of our construction clients to utilise these, bearing in mind that they are generic templates and will need adapting for each business and site. As ever, please contact your usual advisor if you have any queries.


    It could be six months before life in the UK returns to “normal”

    Speaking at the government’s daily coronavirus briefing, Dr Jenny Harries, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, said: “It could be six months before life in the UK returns to ‘normal’. This is not to say we would be in complete lockdown for six months.” But, she continued, the UK had to be “responsible” in its actions and reduce social distancing measures “gradually”.

    Dr Harries said the government would review the lockdown measures for the first time in three weeks. But she warned the public: “We must not then suddenly revert to our normal way of living. That would be quite dangerous.” She continued: “If we stop then all of our efforts will be wasted and we could potentially see a second peak. So over time, probably over the next six months, we will have a three-week review. We will see where we are going. We need to keep that lid on – and then gradually we will be able to hopefully adjust some of the social distancing measures and gradually get us all back to normal. Three weeks for review, two or three months to see whether we have really squashed it but about three to six months ideally, and lots of uncertainty in that, but then to see at which point we can actually get back to normal.”

    So, businesses may not return to normal functionality for a while, but we are doing our best to help and advise our clients as well as possible in the meantime. Please keep checking this page and the Government’s website for updates, but if you have a more specific enquiry, please do not hesitate to contact your designated advisor directly.

    #oneoftheteam


    Cutting of red tape to allow companies to produce PPE and hand sanitiser

    To help get personal protective equipment (PPE) and hand sanitiser to NHS staff as quickly as possible, Business Secretary Alok Sharma is easing administrative requirements and barriers to imports of these essential tools, without compromising on their safety.

    By reducing the amount of red tape, new suppliers and businesses that produce ingredients for safe hand sanitiser and PPE will be able to bring their products to market in a matter of days. HMRC confirmed manufacturers of hand sanitisers and gels will have their applications for denatured alcohol fast-tracked.

    Efforts to boost availability of essential supplies involve temporary measures including:

    • asking the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Local Authorities to fast-track PPE through the product safety assessment process and prioritise this activity over other market surveillance activity
    • allowing PPE equipment providing protection against COVID-19 which lack the CE mark onto the market provided products meet essential safety requirements
    • providing new guidance for local authorities and ports and borders enforcement officers on the import and safety testing of hand sanitiser

    Some of our local gin distillers, such as Lincoln Gin and Bottomley Distillers have already switched production to produce hand sanitiser, for local health services, businesses and charities.

    The Business Secretary said: “Today’s measures will reduce the burden on business, giving bosses much-needed breathing space to keep their workers employed and their companies going.”


    Suspension of wrongful trading

    Business Secretary Alok Sharma announced on Saturday that he will make changes to enable UK companies undergoing a rescue or restructure process to continue trading, giving them breathing space that could help them avoid insolvency.

    This will also include enabling companies to continue buying much-needed supplies, such as energy, raw materials or broadband, while attempting a rescue, and temporarily suspending wrongful trading provisions retrospectively from 1 March 2020 for three months for company directors, so they can keep their businesses going without the threat of personal liability.

    The Business Secretary said: “The government is doing everything in its power to save lives and protect livelihoods during these unprecedented times.”

    Speaking about the reforms to insolvency law, Matthew Fell, Chief UK Policy Director, Confederation of British Industry, said: “The CBI welcomes these interventions at a critical time for business. The temporary suspension of wrongful trading provisions, along with other measures, will give much needed headroom for company directors to enable otherwise viable businesses to use the government’s support package and weather this crisis.”


    AGMs and filing of accounts

    The Business Secretary also announced on Saturday that the government will introduce legislation to ensure those companies required by law to hold Annual General Meetings (AGMs) will be able to do so safely, consistent with the restrictions on movement and gatherings introduced to address the spread of coronavirus.

    Companies will temporarily be extended greater flexibilities, including holding AGMs online or postponing the meetings.

    This measure follows an announcement earlier last week that companies would automatically and immediately be granted a three-month extension to the filing of their accounts following a fast-track online process.

    Over 10,000 businesses have already successfully applied for the extension.


    An employer’s guide to Statutory Sick Pay

    Your employees may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), which is £94.25 a week for up to 28 weeks.

    You can offer more if you have a company sick pay scheme (you cannot offer less). Company schemes are also called ‘contractual’ or ‘occupational’ sick pay and must be included in an employment contract.

    You can pay SSP to an employee who is self-isolating for more than 4 days because of coronavirus (COVID-19) from the first day.

    HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) expects the law to change to allow small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) to reclaim 2 weeks’ SSP they have paid to employees who are self-isolating because of coronavirus (COVID-19). The government’s page will be updated if the law changes.

    Holiday (or ‘annual leave’)

    Statutory annual leave is accrued while the employee is off work sick (no matter how long they’re off) and can be taken during sick leave.


    Take your kids to ‘virtual’ Disney!

    The coronavirus pandemic may have caused Disney to close its gates indefinitely, but a YouTube channel (unaffiliated with the Walt Disney Co.), means you can still experience some of the joy.

    Since 2016, the YouTube channel “Virtual Disney World” has been offering virtual reality rides through 360-degree videos, posted by fans. They are compatible with a virtual reality headset or a smart phone with a headset. 

    Have fun!

     


    27th March 2020

    HR UPDATE

    Updated Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme Guidance and Furloughed Workers 

    Following many requests, we have produced some furloughed workers letter templates, which are free to download above.

    The government have released further guidance on the Job retention scheme initially announced last week by the Chancellor, explaining who can claim, what employees can claim for, how to work out the claim and how to claim.

    The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has initially been set up for a 3 month period, with employers able to back date claims to the 1st March for employees who have been furloughed. The scheme has been set up to support businesses and employees who have adversely been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

    The Government are setting up an online HMRC portal, which will allow for employers to reclaim up to 80% of their usual wage, with claims being capped at £2,500 per employee per month, plus the associated costs of Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum auto enrolment employer pension contributions. 

    The scheme is open to all employers who have created and started a PAYE scheme on or before 28th February 2020. The scheme is open to all businesses, charities, recruitment agencies and public authorities. Employers can claim for:

    • Full time employees
    • Part-time employees
    • Employees on an agency contract
    • Employees on zero hour contracts

    The scheme also covers employees who were made redundant after 28th February 2020 on the condition that they are re-hired by the employer and placed as a furloughed worker. The scheme is only open to those employees employed before 28th February 2020. 

    Whilst furloughed, employees should remain at home and not be required to undertake any work for the employer. If an employee is still working, albeit on reduced hours or reduced pay, they will not be able to claim the subsidiary. Employees either need to be furloughed or at work. If employees are furloughed they need to be furloughed for at least a 3 week period. Employees can take part in volunteer work or training as long as this does not involve providing services which generate revenue for the employer. If employees are required to undertake training whilst furloughed, they must be paid at least National Minimum Wage for the time spent training.

    By making an employee a ‘furloughed worker’ employers are making changes to the individual’s contract of employment. If the company already has a temporary lay-off/ short-time working clause in place, they will not be required to seek the agreement of employees to furlough them. Instead the company should speak to the individuals, advise them on the decision that has been made, the reason why and what this will mean. This should then be confirmed in writing and a copy of the letter should be kept on file by the employer as this may be needed when claiming for the subsidiary. A template letter to impose furloughed working can be found in Useful Documents above.

    If the employer does not have the contractual right to temporarily lay off staff, then in order to furlough workers they should seek the express agreement of its workforce to do this. In this scenario it is advised that the company consult with all staff, again explaining the situation  and what they are looking to do and the reason why and then write to employees seeking their permission to amend the contracts and to furlough the workforce, in order to protect the business and individuals’ long term employment. If employees respond and give express agreement to the change, the company can then furlough staff. A template letter seeking the agreement of employees to furlough them can be found in Useful Documents above..

    It may be the case that employers require to furlough some staff but not all. In such circumstances the employer can ask for volunteers in the first instance, or use an objective scoring criteria to decide which employees are to be furloughed and which employees will be required to continue to work. 

    Employees on unpaid leave or sick
    Only employees who were placed on unpaid leave after the 28th February can be furloughed

    • Employees on sick leave or who are self-isolating should receive SSP but can be furloughed after this.
    • Employees who are shielding in line with public health guidelines can be placed on furlough.

    What can you claim?
    Employers can claim up to 80% of an employee’s usual wage or salary, up to a maximum of £2,500 per employee per month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum auto enrolment employer contributions. Employers can top up this amount to 100% of the employees normal wage, but do not have to. Fees, commission and bonuses should not be included as part of this scheme.

    For employees who wages vary from week to week employers can claim for the higher of the following:

    • The same month’s earning from the previous year
    • Average monthly earnings from the 2019-20 tax year

    If employees have been employed for less than a year, claims can be for the average monthly earnings since they started employment.

    What you need to make a claim
    Once you have been through the appropriate process to furlough workers you will need to provide the following:

    • Your PAYE reference number 
    • The number of employees being furloughed
    • The claim period (start and end date)
    • Amount claimed 
    • Your bank account number and sort code
    • Contact name 
    • Contact phone number 

    As an employer you will need to calculate the amount you are claiming. HMRC reserve the right to retrospectively audit all claims.

    Claims can only be submitted once at least every 3 weeks and can be back dated until 1st March. Once you have submitted an eligible claim, the grant will be paid by BACS payment to your UK Bank account.

    Full guidance can be found on the government’s website.

    Business closures

    The government guidance around business closures is changing daily, so it is recommended that you check the gov.uk website for updates.

    Currently, construction sites are still allowed to be open (see below), but it is important that businesses follow the government’s guidelines regarding social distancing and hygiene.

    To assist you in this, we have produced a free construction site specific risk assessment (in useful documents above). Please bear in mind that this is a generic template and will need to be adapted for individual businesses.

    Can builders still go to work?
    Shortly after Boris Johnson made this latest announcement, Robert Jenrick, the communities and housing secretary, tweeted that the latest advice for the construction industry was, “If you are working on site, you can continue to do so. I think it’s important that, when we have construction work that is going in a way that can be done safely, in the open air and on new sites, that does continue. It’s important that we make sure that construction and manufacturing can continue and that seems to me to be the safest way of ensuring that we can maintain appropriate social distancing rules in a way which ensures that people who cannot work from home continue to do so.”

    Senior minister, Michael Gove, explained, “It is the case, as Robert Jenrick pointed out, that construction on sites should continue. People should obviously exercise sensitivity and common sense and follow social distancing measures. But construction in the open air on those types of sites can continue.” 

    However, although it was confirmed that construction sites in the UK can currently remain open, the Scottish Government has advised that construction sites should instead close and is currently developing guidance for businesses on how to respond to this, and how they can confirm whether their activities are essential or non-essential. First minister Nicola Sturgeon said on 25thMarch: “This morning I was specifically asked on the radio about building sites and hair salons, and my advice would be to close. I want to reiterate that if you run a business, and if the nature of your business makes it difficult for you or your workers to work from home or to practice safe social distancing, then you should close for the period of the efforts to combat this virus. If you are an employee, and your workplace is not abiding by this, I would urge you to speak to your employer and ask that they take action.”

    Can builders go into people’s homes?
    In regards to entering people’s homes, Mr Gove told ITV’s Good Morning Britain (25th March), “If it is the case you are reconstructing or building a home in which there is no one present, that is appropriate and it can go on. But if we’re talking about the sort of construction work that involves a builder coming into home in order to deliver an extension or something like that, that would seem not appropriate and not in line with the clear guidance.”

    When then questioned about home extensions, Mr Gove added, “The construction work of the kind you have mentioned, which involves intimate contact in someone’s home, that is inappropriate.”

    Government support for the self-employed

    In the latest step to protect individuals and businesses, Rishi Sunak has set out plans that will see the self-employed receive up to £2,500 per month in grants for at least 3 months.

    Millions of people across the UK could benefit from the new Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, with those eligible receiving a cash grant worth 80% of their average monthly trading profit over the last three years. This covers 95% of people who receive the majority of their income from self-employment. The scheme will be open to those with a trading profit of less than £50,000 in 2018-19 or an average trading profit of less than £50,000 from 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19.

    Note:

    • further information and details of the scheme will be shared shortly by HMRC
    • HMRC will use the average trading profits from tax returns in 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 to determine the size of the grant
    • this scheme also applies to members of partnerships
    • before grant payments are made, the self-employed will still be able to access other available government support for those affected by coronavirus including more generous universal credit and business continuity loans where they have a business bank account

    You can read more about this scheme here.

    CITB to suspend levy payments

    CITB’s board met yesterday (March 25) and gave final approval to suspend the issue of its levy bills, due for payment in 2020, for an initial period of three months.

    The bills will subsequently be issued for the full year. The delay will provide immediate financial relief to construction employers during the coronavirus crisis. In normal times CITB assesses and sends out levy bills each April in accordance with legal requirements. CITB levy bills are usually due for payment in May, but CITB will not seek collection on the suspended bills until August, or later if possible.

    You can read more about what the CITB are doing to support the construction industry throughout the COVID-19 crisis here.

    Call for businesses to help make NHS ventilators

    The government is looking for businesses who can support in the supply of ventilators and ventilator components across the UK as part of their response to COVID-19.

    As well as manufacturers, they are looking for businesses with the following skills:

    • design/specification
    • rapid prototyping
    • contract/product assembly
    • certification/regulation/testing
    • logistics
    • medical training

    If you think your business can help, please register your details here.

    Filing accounts

    Companies House have announced that businesses will be given an additional three months to file accounts to help companies avoid penalties as they deal with the impacts of COVID-19. Full guidance on applying for an extension can be found here.

    Gender-pay reporting

    Enforcement of the gender pay gap-reporting deadlines are suspended for this reporting year (2019/20) due to the coronavirus outbreak. The decision means there will be no expectation on employers to report their data.

    And finally, why not visit the zoo today…

    Virtually, of course! Chester Zoo will be live streaming a whole day of animal antics:

    10:00 Red pandas 🐼
    11:00 Rothschild’s giraffes 🦒
    12:00 Asian elephants 🐘
    13:00 Butterflies 🦋
    14:00 Sun bears 🐻
    14:30 Sumatran tigers 🐅
    14:45 Humboldt penguins 🐧
    16:00 Aquarium* 🐠

    (*Running order may be subject to ever so slight changes… and there may be more surprises throughout the day!)

    You can join in the fun here.

    26th March 2020

    Today’s update includes important HR and Employment Law information around furloughed workers, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (also available as a downloadable Word document, above), and Statutory Sick Pay, as well as news regarding the changes for MOT testing, and finally, free resources for a ‘virtual school day’ for those of you with children at home.

    HR UPDATE

    What is Furlough Leave?
    From Friday the 20th of March 2020, the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced a raft of measures to protect businesses, including unprecedented government support in the shape of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, allowing employer to ‘Furlough’ Staff, rather than lay them off or make them redundant. 

    This includes limited companies, sole traders, LLPs, Partnerships, charities etc., allowing them to access financial support to continue to pay part of their employees’ salaries. This would enable employers to retain their employees for at least the short term, without having to worry about possible redundancies, also giving employees comfort around their ongoing status and pay, for the short term. 

    Affected employees would be classed as furloughed workers. These employees would have to be notified of their changing status which would remain subject to existing employment law and depending on their contract, may be subject to negation. It’s crucial for an agreement to be made between the employer and employee as to whether the employee becomes ‘furloughed’.

    How can this be imposed?
    Employer’s must check to see whether they have a contractual right to lay off workers, if so, they can instead furlough workers, in an effort to safeguard the business and the individual’s long term employment. This should then be confirmed in writing.  

    Where there is no temporary lay-off or short time working clause in place, the employer would need to seek the agreement of each individual employee to amend them to ‘furloughed workers’.  

    How much does the Government pay, and how do they process this?
    Although full details of the scheme are yet to be released, what is known so far is that under the scheme, if someone is designated as a ‘Furloughed worker’, employers will be able to register and can look to be reimbursed up to 80% of an employee’s wage, based on a salary cap of £2,500 per employee per month. These payments can be backdated from the 1st of March.

    Process:

    • The employer would need to submit information to the HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed, about their earnings through a new online portal, which has not been set up as of yet. HMRC will provide further details on this.
    • HMRC will reimburse 80% of ‘Furloughed workers’’ wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. HMRC are urgently working to set up this system. This is broadly, £30K per annum which is roughly the national median salary. It is not clarified as to whether this is Net or Gross pay, however, from guidance, this states it is to cover all employment costs, such as pensions and national insurance contributions.
    • An employee classed as a ‘Furloughed worker’ should not undertake work for their employer while they’re ‘Furloughed’. 
    • The scheme has initially been set up for 3 months, however the government have already indicated this can be extended if needed.  
    • Employees must remain on the payroll
    • The 80% relates to Gross Pay, CJRS payments will be classified as employment earnings and therefore PAYE/NIC etc. apply and other deductions such a pension contributions

    Questions to be answered:
    Full details of the scheme are yet to be released and this has left a lot of unanswered questions, such as:

    • If employees have already received a P45, how are they ‘re-employed’ to then be ‘furloughed’?                                                                                            
    • What will the online HMRC portal look like?
    • How will the 80% be calculated for employees on variable hours and those who receive overtime, bonuses or commission? 
    • Will the system be in place for the next pay run for Weekly Staff? 
    • How will temporary staff be affected and is there a cut-off date for ‘employed’ workers at the time of a business shut down?
    • Will Optional Remuneration Arrangements continue for furloughed employees?
    • What are the implications for National Minimum wage? (BEIS have now issued some guidance around loans and advances)
    • What are the implications for apprenticeships (although some guidance has now been released)? 

    Can the employer top up to 100%?
    There is no guidance on whether the employer needs to top up the 20%, as this would be optional to the employer. The employer has the option whether to top up the extra 20% or not.

    How does this affect the Self-Employed?
    Proposals have been put forward which would protect the income of self-employed and freelance workers to a set level, and an announcement is expected at some point today (26th March) about self-employed individuals. 

    The amendment of the COVID-19 bill, entitled Statutory Self-Employment pay, appears to propose the government will guarantee earnings of 80% of monthly net earnings, averaged over the last three years, or £2,917 a month, whichever is lower.

    Business Interruption loans 
    Amongst a raft of other support for businesses, the government have announced a Business Interruption Loan scheme to help businesses with short-term costs, such as wages etc. The loans will be interest free for 12 months and businesses with less than a £45 million turnover, who meet the British Bank Eligibility criteria, will be eligible for the scheme. Further information can be found here.

    What you can do as a business
    There are still many unknowns, however, you can start to prepare by undertaking the following:

    1. Review your employment contracts to establish whether you have lay-off or short-term contract provisions. 
    2. If you do not have lay-off or short-term contract provision, you will need consent to change employment status to ‘furloughed’ – Stallard Kane are able to assist you with a letter to do this.
    3. Be aware that changing the status of employees is subject to existing employment law. Criteria are needed for selecting which employees are affected. Failure of an employee to accept a change could lead to a redundancy, so we recommend using similar criteria to redundancy selection.

    Statutory Sick Pay

    What we know so far: 

    • Coronavirus related SSP starts from day 1 of sickness or self-isolation. This applies retrospectively from the 13thMarch 2020. Waiting days do not apply.
    • If self-isolating because you have the virus or someone in the household has symptoms or has the virus, SSP is payable covering a maximum of 14 days.
    • The first 7 days of isolation/sickness are self-certificated, following 7 days’ virtual certification from NHS 111 online.
    • Certificates must be in place by law to account for not only coronavirus related sickness, but all sickness.
    • For an employee working from home but not self-isolating, SSP does not apply, it’s not payable or recoverable. 
    • Pregnant women are covered by the same 14 days coronavirus sickness regime. If they are concerned and cannot return to work, a doctor’s certificate is required. 
    • Employers can only recover SSP up to a maximum of 14 days, and only sickness relating to coronavirus.

    MOT tests and garages

    From 30 March 2020, MOT due dates for cars, motorcycles and light vans will be extended by 6 months. This is being done to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

    This is only applicable for cars whose tests are due after (and including) the 30th March.

    If your MOT is due up to and including 29th March, the Government’s guidance is:

    • If you’re not self-isolating or extremely vulnerable from COVID-19 you still need an MOT to make sure your vehicle meets road safety and environmental standards. Currently, MOT centres and garages are still allowed to stay open, so book your MOT test at any open test centre. 
    • If you or someone you live with has symptoms of coronavirus and your MOT runs out while you’re staying at home, you should book an MOT test after your period of self-isolation is over. The Department for Transport (DfT) is working with insurers and the police to make sure you are not unfairly penalised for not being able to get an MOT.
    • If you are extremely vulnerable from coronavirus you must not take your vehicle for its MOT. DfT is working with insurers and the police to make sure you are not unfairly penalised for not being able to get an MOT.

    Advice for garages and test centres
    Currently, you’re still allowed to open your garage or MOT centre and carry out MOT tests.

    The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has published guidance for vehicle owners that says:

    Your MOT centre can stay open after 30 March 2020 to carry out MOTs if you need to. This could include retests or tests of a vehicle that had an MOT due before 30 March.

    Garages can also stay open to carry out essential repairs or services as well.

    What to do if someone becomes unwell in your MOT centre
    If anyone becomes unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature in the workplace they should be sent home and advised to follow the stay at home guidance.

    For more full information read guidance for employers and businesses on coronavirus (COVID 19)

    Limiting the spread of coronavirus at your centre
    You should:

    • follow social distancing advice and keep at least 2 metres between customers and members of staff at all times
    • remind employees and customers to wash their hands for 20 seconds more frequently than normal
    • frequently clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, using your standard cleaning products
    • use seat covers and new disposable gloves for every test

    You can download posters, leaflets and other materials to display at your MOT centre.

    Virtual school day for those with children at home

    One of the challenges of working from home is keeping your children occupied and ensuring they’re still getting a decent education. Routine is really important too, so we’ve put together a daily timetable of free resources to help:

    Non-daily events include:
    Science with Professor Brian Cox, Robin Ince & Guests https://cosmicshambles.com/stayathome/upcoming-schedule

    25th March 2020

    Today’s update includes useful documents, advice on business closures, training, working from home and wellbeing.

    Work carried out in people’s homes
    Work carried out in people’s homes, for example by tradespeople carrying out repairs and maintenance, can continue, provided that the tradesperson is well and has no symptoms. Again, it will be important to ensure that Public Health England guidelines, including maintaining a two metre distance from any household occupants, are followed to ensure everyone’s safety.

    No work should be carried out in any household which is isolating or where an individual is being shielded, unless it is to remedy a direct risk to the safety of the household, such as emergency plumbing or repairs, and where the tradesperson is willing to do so. In such cases, Public Health England can provide advice to tradespeople and households.

    No work should be carried out by a tradesperson who has coronavirus symptoms, however mild.

     

    Businesses that must close
    We have included above an updated list of all businesses that have been instructed to close, including the exceptions. However, as with a lot of guidance at the moment, things change frequently, so please check the Government’s website for updates.

    First Aid training certificate expiration
    The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is aware that people holding Offshore Medic (OM), Offshore First Aid (OFA), First Aid at Work (FAW) or Emergency First Aid at Work (EFAW) certificates nearing expiry date, might experience disruption to access requalification training as a result of events or circumstances generated by the coronavirus pandemic.

    “If requalification training is prevented for reasons associated directly with coronavirus or by complying with related government advice, it is reasonable and practical to extend the validity of current certificates by up to 3 months.  Anyone taking advantage of this extension should be able to describe clearly their reasons for delaying requalification training, and demonstrate steps they have taken to undertake the training, if required.

    This guidance comes into effect for certificates expiring on or after 16th March 2020. HSE will review this matter over the coming months and will issue further statements as necessary.”

    You can read more here.

    Critical workers
    Due to the new travel restrictions, we have produced a template letter for key workers, in the event they are stopped and have to provide evidence of their need to travel. The template is downloadable as a Word document in the Useful documents section above.

    The do’s and don’ts of working from home
    It can be very hard to discipline yourself and settle in to a good routine when working from home.

    Our Health & Safety Advisor, Steve Taylor, has put together some tips on how you can work more effectively from home, which covers the following points:

    • Maintaining regular contact with your team
    • Snacking
    • Dress
    • TVs
    • Workspace
    • Breaks
    • Organisation
    • Hours

    The full document is included in the Useful documents section at the top of the page.

    Face masks
    British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS) have shared this free article from the Annals of Work Exposures and Health on filter performance of N99 and N95 face-piece respirators.

    If you need to wear a mask, the simple takeaway from all this is:

    • Ensure that you’re face-fit tested for the mask you’re wearing.
    • Make sure that you’re clean shaven so the mask seals properly.
    • Ensure that you’re using the correct filter for what it is you’re trying to protect against.
    • Check your mask regularly. If it is damaged, cut, worn or broken, stop wearing it and get a new one.

    You can find the full article here.

    Looking after your mental health
    As we are all aware social distancing and isolating are the best tools we have to help stop the spread of the CORVID-19. However, being inside and isolated from our usual support systems will have a negative impact on all of our mental health.

    Below are 7 “Top Tips” that our Training Manager (and Mental Health First Aider) Faye Bevington, has put together for looking after your Mental Health during this time:

    1. Communication – find other platforms to communicate with your friends and family. Set specific times to Video Call people, having a “virtual” cup of tea with friends is a good way to stay connected. Different communication platforms are already offering inclusive activities for people to join with their friends and families. Zoom are offering daily sing along sessions to get people singing and dancing together which are currently free to attend. Netflix Party allows users to have synchronised screens and has a group chat function, this will allow you to watch a film together and share interaction about the film in real time without anyone leaving the house. Text and emails are a great way to communicate, but they lack intimacy, find ways to communicate with each other that still feel personal. From a working/business point of view, Stallard Kane are utilising Microsoft Teams, which they’re currently offering free to businesses for 6 months – you can sign up here: https://bit.ly/2wxmqD7
    2. Exercise – as it currently stands we are allowed to leave the house once a day for the purpose of exercise. Whatever you choose to do with this time, ensure that it follows government guidelines of remaining only with people in your household and not gathering in groups of more than two people. Walking and cycling are both great forms of cardio-vascular activities which also have the additional benefits of being outside in the fresh air. Many gyms and fitness instructors are also now offering Virtual Training Sessions, some are free to join (see the Joe Wicks’ PE sessions link below), others do have a cost associated . Not only will this keep you active, but will help to make you feel part of an online community.
    3. Deep breathing – breathing in slowly and deeply for 60 seconds encourages our bodies to release endorphins (the happy hormone) which will help us feel instantly more relaxed
    4. Being grateful – in such uncertain times it is hard to find things we are grateful or thankful for. But take the time to write down three things each day that make you grateful. This will help to improve your mood and can aid to fight off feelings of mild depression.
    5. Tidy your workspace – not all of us will be able to have a “home office” set up. Many of us will be working from our kitchen tables or lounges, however, it is still important to have a clear, non-cluttered workspace. This helps with feeling organised and more in control of your surroundings. You’ll find more tips on working from home in our Do’s and Don’ts document above.
    6. Limit screen time – as much as possible, when not working, it is important to limit the amount of screen time you have. Constantly scrolling through news feeds and social media, especially during this crisis, can cause many people to have increased anxiety. To help clear your mind, set specific times of the day when you can have your phone and screen off, your mind needs time to process all of the information it already has without constantly overloading it with further information.
    7. Routine – working from home will push all of us out of our normal routines, it is therefore vital that we create new ones. It is important to break your day up so please ensure that lunchbreaks are being taken as this will also allow you to have time away from screens.

    If anyone wants further information on any of the above, or would like information on more specific support tools that are available please don’t hesitate to contact our Training Team.

    Free resources for those with children at home
    Those of us working from home may find it difficult if you’re also having to entertain and home school your children. Here are some great free resources you might enjoy…

    • David Walliams has confirmed he will be releasing a free audio story each day for the next 30 days to help keep children entertained during the coronavirus lockdown: https://www.worldofdavidwalliams.com/elevenses/
    • Joe Wicks is holding free PE lessons on YouTube for all the kids whose schools have been closed. It’s live-streamed every weekday at 9am.

    24th March 2020

    Following last night’s statement from the Government, we’ve listed the latest guidance and and advice below, but as this is a very fluid situation, we encourage you to regularly check the Government’s website for updates: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

    FREE Microsoft Teams to help us keep in touch
    Remember, we’re still working for our clients, just in a different way. To enable us to do video/telephone audits as much as possible, our preferred method of communication is Microsoft Teams, which allows us to share documents and screen share etc. Microsoft are offering this service free to businesses for six months, so we encourage you to sign up if you haven’t already done so: https://bit.ly/2wxmqD7

    It’s business as usual, so to relieve the strain on our switchboard, please contact your designated advisor directly in the first instance if you need any further help or guidance.

    Stay at home to stop coronavirus spreading
    Everyone must stay at home to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

    This includes people of all ages – even if you do not have any symptoms or other health conditions.

    You can only leave your home:

    • to shop for basic essentials – only when you really need to
    • to do one form of exercise a day – such as a run, walk or cycle, alone or with other people you live with
    • for any medical need – for example, to visit a pharmacy or deliver essential supplies to a vulnerable person
    • to travel to and from work – but only where this is absolutely necessary

    Business closures

    The Government has enforced business closures, with some exceptions. The full list can be found here (PDF):https://bit.ly/2Jb6yZD

    Currently, building sites are allowed to remain open, according to Michael Gove on the BBC this morning, but this guidance is changing by the hour. We encourage you to use your own judgement as to whether to remain open, until the government says otherwise, but is important that all workers remain at least two metre apart and follow government advice on protection and hand washing etc. 

    Compliance is essential. Everyone is instructed to comply with the rules issued by the government in relation to Coronavirus, in order to protect both themselves and others. As of 2pm on 21 March 2020, closures on the original list from 20th March (including cafés, pubs and restaurants (except for take-away food), nightclubs, theatres, cinemas, gyms and leisure centres) are now enforceable by law in England and Wales due to the threat to public health. The government will extend the law and enforcement powers to include the new list of premises for closure. Further measures on enforcement could be taken following the passage of the Coronavirus Bill through parliament. 

    A business operating in contravention of the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Business Closures) Regulations 2020 will be committing an offence. As agreed with the devolved administrations, these measures will be extended to Scotland and Northern Ireland by Ministerial Direction once the Coronavirus Bill is in force.

    Environmental Health and Trading Standards officers will monitor compliance with these regulations, with police support provided if appropriate. Businesses and premises that breach them will be subject to prohibition notices, and potentially unlimited fines.

    Isolation notes

    If you are an employee and need to prove that you have to self-isolate, you can get a note from the NHS website

    Use this service if you have been told to stay at home because of coronavirus and you need a note for your employer.

    This service is only for people who:

    • have symptoms of coronavirus and have used the 111 online coronavirus service
    • have been told by a healthcare professional they have symptoms of coronavirus
    • live with someone who has symptoms of coronavirus

    If you are not sure if you need to stay at home, get the latest NHS advice on coronavirus.

    If you have to stay at home but feel well enough to work, ask your employer if you can work from home. If you can work from home, you will not need an isolation note. You can also use this service for someone else.

    Staying at home isolation guidance

    It can be tricky to understand exactly how and why to keep apart from each other if everyone is at home. The government has produced some useful stay at home guidance for households here.

    Deliveries

    If you have goods delivered to or collected from your work premises, you must let visiting drivers use your toilets and hand washing facilities by law. Be part of the national effort to tackle the spread of coronavirus – it’s vital that drivers are able to wash their hands when they need to. More guidance can be found on the HSE websitehttps://bit.ly/33HcCCA

    Guidance for apprentices, employers, training providers, end-point assessment organisations and external quality assurance providers

    These are difficult times for employers, apprentices, and providers of apprenticeship training and assessment. As part of the cross-government efforts to respond to the impact of COVID-19, the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) is implementing new measures, for the duration of the pandemic, to make it easier for apprenticeships to continue and complete in a different way, if they need to take break and resume an apprenticeship later when that becomes possible.

    The full guidance can be found here: https://bit.ly/3bnnDLU


    23rd March 2020

    Job Retention Scheme 
    Following the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak’s briefing on Friday evening, the Government has stepped in to support with the payment of employees’ wages for individuals who are not currently working due to the Coronavirus, by offering to pay 80% (up to £2,500 per month) of wages for the next three months under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. The scheme will be back dated to the 1st March and is hoped to be in place by the end of April. All employers will be eligible for the scheme. 

    To access the scheme the employer will need to:

    • Designate affected individuals as ‘furloughed workers’ and notify the employees of the change. Changing the status of employees remains subject to employment law and will depend upon what is contained within the contract of employment
    • Submit information to the HMRC on the ‘furloughed workers’ and their earnings via the HMRC online portal.

    It is hoped that the scheme will be up and running within the next six weeks, however businesses that are struggling to pay in the meantime may be eligible to apply for a Coronavirus Business Interruption loan

    The scheme has originally been set up for three months,  however Mr Sunak announced that this could be extended if needed.  Although full guidance on the scheme has yet to be released, on the issue of zero hour workers,  Sunak added: “Zero hours covers a variety of situations, but it may well be you are on a PAYE scheme and have a set of regular earnings and it will be covered depending on your particular circumstance.”

    VAT payments
    Further measures to support business include Mr Sunak announcing that this quarter’s VAT payments for all firms will be deferred. No companies will be required to pay VAT until the end of June. The business interruption loan scheme that was announced earlier this week, will now be interest free for 12 months, rather than the 6 months that was previously announced.

    Business closures
    The Prime Minister further announced the closure of all Bars, Restaurants and Cafés, leisure centres and Gyms  from Friday 20th March, although restaurants and cafés can still operate to provide home delivery services. 

    Working from home
    Like us, many businesses are having to temporarily change the way they work, and have their employees work from home. ACAS have published some useful guidance…

    Employers and employees should be practical, flexible and sensitive to each other’s situation when working from home because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

    Employers should:

    • talk to their employees and workers about working from home arrangements
    • consider which roles and tasks can be done from home – this might involve doing things differently and not assuming a role cannot be based at home
    • support employees to adjust to remote working
    • consider individual employees’ needs, for example anyone with childcare responsibilities, a long-term health condition or a disability
    • write down the arrangements that have been agreed so everyone’s clear

    To help prepare their workplace, employers can: use the preparing for homeworking questionnaire from CIPD

    As the spread of Coronavirus is changing by the day, it is most important that you keep up to date with the latest information and advice provided by the Government.

    Wellbeing if working from home or isolating
    Working from home and being isolated from others is a new experience for a lot of people, and many thrive on social interaction, so it’s important to consider your employees’ wellbeing at this time.

    We are equipping all of our staff with home work stations and mobile phones, as well as utilising Skype and other channels to help us communicate with each other and with our clients. There are many ways employees can communicate, other than phone or email, such as WhatsApp group chats and Workplace from Facebook.

    Mind.org also has some useful advice to help look after your wellbeing, including:


    19th March 2020

    The current COVID-19 pandemic is affecting every one of us. We would like to reassure all of our clients that we have put measures in place to provide our usual services as much as we possibly can. Our foremost responsibility is keeping our employees and clients safe, so the way we work may be different, with people working from home or unable to do site visits, but we are equipping all of our staff to be able to communicate with each other and our clients using digital solutions and a variety of channels.

    This current crisis will pass and we understand the importance of keeping your business safe and ready to face the future. We will be posting regular updates on our website and social media channels, so please keep checking back. Please read our updates and advice below – specifically covering advice for employers and keeping your premises safe.

    We will also be sending out news bulletins via email, not just about the current crisis, but about all of our services, and in particular, upcoming HR and employment law legislation updates. If you do not currently receive our email updates, you can subscribe here.

    Remember, we are #oneoftheteam and are always on hand, as ever, whenever you need help or advice.

    Keeping your premises safe

    In these uncertain times many of you will be closing down your premises to work from home because of Government instruction, for an unknown period of time. As you prepare to adapt to working from home where possible, some things can easily get overlooked. Please see the reminders below.

    Mains Gas
    If you can, isolate the gas at the point of entry to your building. This will prevent possible leaks and the hazards that produces

    Gas Cylinders
    Remove from workstations to your secure storage, external if possible. If there are any cylinders that cannot be moved or your storage is not external, then ensure any hoses or regulators are removed and the cylinder head valve is closed.

    Electricity
    Where possible isolate and disconnect machinery and isolate any lines where the power does not run essential systems. Remember to keep fire detection systems and intruder alarms powered, along with your servers.

    Water
    Again, if possible, isolate. This is important if there will be no heating in the building.

    Key holder information and response numbers
    Ensure all key holder information is up to date, along with response names with fire and alarm monitoring companies. You may want, if you are able to, to add additional names in case people are unavailable due to isolation requirements. 

    Also ensure your internal contact list is up to date and distributed.

    Vehicles
    Any vehicles that remain on site should be locked and parked in a secure location. You may want to move them inside if possible or park them in a tighter formation for enhanced security. Keep keys in a separate secure location.

    External fuel tanks
    Turned off and ensure they’re securely locked.

    Compressed air systems
    Turn off, vent and isolate if possible, unless they are running essential systems. If you have vented the system, it is a good idea to leave the air receiver drain open.

    Site security
    Ensure that if you have CCTV that you do not obstruct any cameras, and your boundary is secure. If you have remote access via a smart phone, ensure you know how the system works. If possible, periodic checks on site security should be made. 

    Advice for employers

    Under health and safety law, employers have a duty of care to protect employees from infectious diseases at work. Coronavirus is the most recent outbreak of disease and it is the employer’s responsibility to take precautions to prevent exposure to the disease and ensure the health and safety of employees. Developing a plan or a policy on reducing the risk of infection and what to do in the event of an outbreak is the best way to be prepared for an outbreak in the workplace. 

    As employers, our own policies and procedures on the matter are under constant review, and with that so is the guidance that we are issuing to our clients. Every update from the Government, NHS, Public Health England (PHE) and Department of Health & Social Care (DHSC) should be considered and, where necessary, form part of an internal review. 

    Advice and updates for employers is available for employers on the Gov.uk website. Public Health England also provide useful further information via their blog “Public Health Matters” which is updated daily, and we encourage employers to keep up to date with it.

    What are the symptoms of someone with coronavirus? 
    The following symptoms may develop within 14 days of coming into contact with someone who is infected by COVID-19:

    • A new, continuous cough – this means you’ve started coughing repeatedly
    • A high temperature – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
    • Difficulty breathing

    Important: These symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness. The symptoms are like many other illnesses that are much more common, such as a flu or a common cold. Generally, these infections can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.

    So, what to do if a member of staff displays symptoms of coronavirus?
    Following the latest Government guidance, any person displaying a new, continuous cough or a high temperature should stay at home and self-isolate for 7 days. If you have employees who live with other people who are displaying the symptoms then they, and everyone else living in the house, should self-isolate for 14 days from the day of the first person having the symptoms.

    For anyone in the household who starts displaying symptoms, they need to stay at home for 7 days from when the symptoms appeared, regardless of what day they are on in the original 14-day isolation period.

    If asked to self-isolate you will find advice here.

    You should not phone 111 as a first port of call any longer due to the understandable demand that this situation has put on the service. You should instead use the NHS 111 coronavirus service if:

    • You feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home
    • Your condition gets worse
    • Your symptoms do not get better after 7 days

    Please note that you should only phone 111 if you cannot get help online.

    The NHS have asked the public not to go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. This is simply a control measure to prevent the spread of the disease. Testing for coronavirus is not needed if you’re staying at home. Remember to stay calm and seek the advice through the NHS 111 coronavirus service first. 

    What practises can we adopt to help protect employees from infection?
    At the time of writing, there is no vaccine for Coronavirus. There are two main routes by which people can spread COVID-19:

    • Infection can be spread to people who are nearby (within 2 metres) or possibly could be inhaled into the lungs.
    • It is also possible that someone may become infected by touching a surface, object or the hand of an infected person that has been contaminated with respiratory secretions and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes (such as touching a door knob or shaking hands, then touching otheir own face).

    The most efficient way to prevent the infection is to avoid exposure. Maintaining and encouraging good levels of hygiene is highly important. Methods you could employ are:

    • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze. See Catch it, Bin it, Kill it.
    • Put used tissues in the bin straight away.
    • Wash your hands with soap and water often – use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available. See hand washing guidance.
    • Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell.
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
    • Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.

    Other steps to explore to mitigate the risks are:

    • Risk assess your activities to help identify potential sources of exposure and formulate suitable control measures, e.g. can some face to face meetings where there is the potential to increase the risk of contact be just as easily carried out via video conference calls, or conference calls?
    • Where possible employees should be asked to work from home.
    • Encourage employees to follow Government guidance and avoid gatherings and crowded places, such as pubs, clubs and theatres.
    • Monitor staff who have pre-existing medical conditions, pregnant workers, persons with weak immune systems etc. as further steps may be required to reduce risk.
    • Keep information to employees clear, concise and up to date – ensure effective communication.

    What if I have staff returning to the UK from other countries?
    It is down to the employer to assess the risk of the employee returning to work, however Government guidance should be followed on a case by case basis as the rules and guidance for each country may be different.

    Self-isolation should be followed as per the above guidance should any employee display symptoms upon returning home from another country.


    *Disclaimer
    The information and any commentary contained within these updates is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or any other type of professional advice. Stallard Kane do not accept and, to the extent permitted by law, exclude liability to any person for any loss which may arise from relying upon or otherwise using the information contained in these bulletins. If you have a particular query or issue, you are strongly advised to obtain specific, personal advice about your issue and not to rely solely on the information or comments in these updates.