March 18, 2020
COVID-19 Employers 18/03/2020
We are receiving lots of all calls from clients about what options and obligations they have with their employees in this unprecedented outbreak of COVID-19.
We work with a company called Avensure Ltd, who are a great HR support company and they have provided some useful information, links and the offer of free advice to all our clients.
Some of the questions they are asked relating to the COVID-19 outbreak include:
If I have no customers, lost contracts or cannot trade, can I temporarily lay my staff off, reduce hours etc?
Yes, if you have their agreement, either in the contract of employment, with their consent or via a collective agreement with a trade union.
If I don’t have their agreement to temporarily lay off or reduce hours, then what can I do?
You will have to change their contract of employment allowing you to lay them off or put them in short time.
Can I let employees with under 2 years service go?
Yes, unless they have protection for automatic unfair dismissal, there are many reasons where an employee can claim this from day one of employment. Also, it is advisable to still follow a fair documented procedure. Additionally, apprentices have special protection and should only be dismissed in very exceptional circumstances.
What happens if I have to make redundancies and can’t afford to pay?
An employee may lodge an employment tribunal to recover the payment. The government does offer a redundancy protection scheme but only for insolvent companies.
Are zero hours employees entitled to SSP?
Yes, if they qualify, every worker in the UK is entitled to SSP if they earn more the £118 per week. As of 6th April 2020, this increases to £120 per week. https://www.gov.uk/calculate-statutory-sick-pay
What if we normally pay full pay when an employee is absent?
If this is in the contract of employment (depending on the wording) or has become contractual over time as this is the ‘norm’, you are obliged to continue to pay full pay. If you cannot afford to pay you will have to change the contract of employment.
An employee has come to work with symptoms but insists they are fit?
Advise them of your duty of care to other employees and as you are not medically qualified ask them to visit the 111 website and fill out the questionnaire to see if they are fit for work. If you decide they are not fit for work this is medical suspension on full pay. https://111.nhs.uk/
They also receive questions on redundancy, dependants leave, changing contracts and many more issues.
Our contact Steve Balfe has put together this information and has offered to provide advice personally to all our clients to help reduce the impact the coronavirus has on your business.
Steve has attached a link for a free Coronavirus 9-minute eLearning video on how to reduce the risk of the virus spreading and what to do if you’re showing symptoms.
Please follow the link: https://www.ihasco.co.uk/free-coronavirus-awareness-video
If you have any staff issues or concerns regarding the Coronavirus please contact Simon at Avensure, he we will be happy to answer any of your queries.