QUARTERLY HR UPDATE AND EMPLOYMENT NEWS – Oct 2020
What a year! There are more challenges ahead for small businesses, but I hope the following Coronavirus information will give both support and guidance. However, if you only click on one link, please make sure it is on this one: ‘Tackling Racism at Work’.
Latest Coronavirus Information for Employers
Job Support Scheme JSS (1st November 2020 – 30th April 2021)
This govt support package requires employees to work at least a third of their normal hours, for at least the first three months of the scheme, but this threshold will then be reviewed after the first three months.
Kay’s comment: Employers need to agree and confirm the reduced hours in writing and cannot give notice of redundancy or make the employee redundant whilst accessing this scheme. Do be aware that employers are required to pay for hours worked plus a third of ‘lost hours’ along with national insurance and pension contributions, making it much less financially attractive than JRS. Click HERE for more information.
Job Retention Bonus JRB (31 January 2021)
The JRB is part of the govt’s Plan for Jobs and will pay employers a one-off (taxable) £1000 for every previously furloughed employee, provided that they remain continuously employed through to 31st January 2021 (which includes JSS). Claims need to be made after the Jan PAYE has been filed and employers will receive the payments from February 2021.
Kay’s comment: Employers will only receive this payment if employees receive at least £520 a month on average between 1st Nov 2020 and 31 Jan 2021 (ie the Lower Earnings Limit). The payment will not be made for employees who are serving contractual or statutory notice that started before 1st Feb 2021. There is no obligation on employers to pass on payments to employees but distributing this windfall bonus to loyal workers should be considered. It remains unclear if employees have to return to their existing job or could return to a different one for the business to still be eligible, although further guidance is due soon. Click HERE for more information.
Apprentice Incentive Payments (1st Sept 2020 – 31st January 2021)
These incentive payments are for taking on new apprentices between 1st Aug 2020 and 31st Jan 2021, but only if they are new to the organisation. There are two levels of payment based on age: £2000 for an apprentice aged 16-24 and £1500 for an apprentice aged 25+. Payments will be made directly to employers in two equal instalments, where the apprentice is still in learning at day 90 and day 365.
Kay’s comment: These incentive payments are in addition to payments currently available for training 16-18 year olds or 19-24 year olds who were previously in care or have a Local Authority Education, Health and Care Plan. This means it is possible to receive up to £3000 for a new apprentice. Click HERE for more information.
Redundancy Support Service for Apprentices (1st August 2020)
This free advice service (0800 0150400) has been set up to support apprentices facing redundancy – providing advice and support on apprenticeship opportunities as well as financial, health, wellbeing, legal and careers advice.
Kickstart Scheme (2nd Sept 2020)
Another Plan for Jobs initiative is a £2bn scheme funding six-month work placements for 16-24 year olds on universal credit who are at particular risk of long-term unemployment. The govt has pledged to fund each Kickstart job, paying 100% of the age-relevant National Minimum Wage, National Insurance and pension contributions for 25 hours a week.
Kay’s comment: Employers will also be able to access a £1,500 payment per placement, to set up support and training, help with uniform costs and other set up requirements. However, this scheme is only being offered in batches of 30 placements, so SMEs are expected to ‘club’ together to form a batch of roles! Although Job Centres are supposed to help curate this process, it is likely to be restrictive for a lot of small businesses. Click HERE for more information.
Tackling Racism at Work
In the UK today, there remains a deep-seated structural and historical bias that allows racism to persist in our workplaces. The murder of George Floyd and the recent Black Lives Matter protests, together with compelling research showing the importance of diversity for business success, has seen a significant shift in government policy and public attitude.
There is a business imperative to prioritise anti-racism and take diversity and inclusion far more seriously. Anti-racism means taking action to work against all aspects of racism and proactively dismantling systems of privilege that block equality. This starts with self-awareness and education – so, I urge you to please read my latest article: Tackling Racism at Work , click on the suggested links and share with your managers and teams, then open up your workplace discussions with one or two thought-provoking questions such as: “when were you first made aware of the colour of your skin?” and “how many of your friends are black or from an ethnic minority?”
All businesses regardless of size or sector need to acknowledge that workplace injustices exist, then go further and commit to doing better. Making time for productive and respectful discussions, re-evaluating core values and denouncing weak policies will be important early steps to take.
If you need more ideas on how to start a conversation or how to encourage open and safe discussions about race at work, please drop me a line via my contact page.
Thank you for reading.
Please Note: The information contained in this news update is provided for your general use only. It should not be treated as a substitute for obtaining professional employment advice on specific issues.