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HR advice on furlough, redundancies & staff motivation

24/06/2020

Businesses must act fast to keep staff motivated, but also to maximise the benefit of CJRS, particularly when considering making redundancies, which is a situation many of our colleagues in the hospitality sector, are currently facing. Helen Ash, director at Solutions 22, believes the recovery is likely to be slow, all the more reason to ensure businesses are on the right side of the furlough scheme and the HR law.

➡️HR advice to maximise furlough

Helen Ash shares her insights on maximising the benefit from the furlough scheme and ensuring your staff return to work motivated and safe.

📍The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

As we emerge from the crisis the furlough scheme is evolving to keep vital funds flowing, here are some of the changes and how to take full advantage of them.

👉From 1st August employers cannot reclaim National Insurance & Pension contributions on furlough payments.

👉From 1st of September employers have to pay 10% (of furlough) + NI + Pension contributions.

👉From 1st of October have to pay 20% (of furlough) + NI + Pension contributions.

👉Bear in mind employees on furlough are still accruing holidays which will need to be paid at 100% or you can ask employees to take holiday whilst on furlough and top up to 100%.

👉If you do ask employees to take holiday on furlough, remember the minimum wage has gone up and the top up will have to be paid at the new minimum wage rate.

👉 When asking employees to take holiday you need to be aware of the WTR which require you to give twice the notice for the amount of time you require the employee to take. E.g. To take one week’s holiday you need to give two weeks’ notice.

👉Using furlough to cover holiday can greatly reduce your holiday liability coming out of furlough but you must act fast! Remember it can be demotivating for those employees expected to take holiday so good communication with them is vital.

👉Emerging from furlough : Engage with furloughed employees, find out how comfortable they are with returning and include them in the dialogue at the planning stage. Be aware of individual circumstances, for example employees who are shielding or are living with relatives who are shielding. Focus on people's mental and physical well-being and supporting people back into work, there will be anxiety about travelling on public transport.

👉 New furlough from July 1st: If you have employees who were on the current CJRS for at least 3 weeks or more, you can transfer onto the new part-time scheme and get more flexibility This will run parallel with existing CJRS and will end at the end of October.

This allows you to bring people back for part of the week, pay them in full and then furlough them for the remaining part of the week.

➡️Redundancy

Remember processes and procedures vary depending on the number of positions you are considering making redundant.

If you’re making 20 or more positions redundant you need to be aware of the requirement to report redundancy plans through to the government. Failure to do so is a criminal offence therefore it is very important to get this right.

Consider the requirement to consult individually and collectively depending on numbers.

Key issues to look at: 👉Follow valid and legal processes which will make communication easier. Don’t hesitate to seek advice from a commercial HR entity which could sound expensive at first but save you untold stresses, time and money in the long run.

👉 Stay in touch with people made redundant and encourage former employee whatsapp groups for example.

👉Help leavers to get the support and advice they might need such as Mental health England and citizens advice can help with financial advice.

➡️How to ensure your teams remain motivated and engaged.

Keeping employees motivated and committed while ensuring their mental well-being has never been more challenging for managers.

👉How you treat people will have a bearing on your team remaining with you and supporting you in the re-opening of your business.

👉Engage with your people and talk to them, sometimes they come up with amazing ideas, some teams have all banded together to reduce their hours to keep their teams.

👉Remaining honest and transparent about what is going on will always pay off. People who remain will think about their work environment and how redundancies will impact them.

👉Be understanding. You’ll need to think a bit smarter around travel times to come into work or where they may work if you have more than one location.

👉 Think about their ability to pay their rent if you are going to need to reduce their hours or if any TRONC payments will be significantly impacted. We know it's not contractual but it is significant.

👉Keep your teams safe. Your employees must feel their environment is safe but also feel safe to ask questions, make suggestions in a transparent supportive environment. Some employees might have been involved in local community activities and might very well have some very good ideas from what they have seen.

📍Where to get practical advice on HR related topics:

You can check Acas for very good basics (textbooks etc..), HMRC contains critical information on CJRS - Check both employer and employee advice. Finally, we suggest that you seek advice from a commercial HR entity or online lawyers whose advice could be useful. Helen to conclude : “Businesses are under immense pressure and it is easy to give in to cutting corners, don’t fall into this trap it can have long term costs and consequences, take the professional help to get it right.”