The issues facing employers right now are many, and include:
• protecting staff and understanding how best to do that within a complex and changing legal and health advice framework;
• Understanding how to apply for and access the state sponsored financial and other support that is available to employers at this time;
• Changes to the statutory sick pay regime, such as allowing workers to claim from day 1 of their sickness absence and employers being able to recoup 14 days of SSP payments made to an employee;
• A new state scheme that enables employees to be furloughed – with the employee doing no work for a minimum 3-week period up to a maximum 3-month period. There must either be a contractual right to lay off, or there must be an agreement with the employee to furlough, in order for the furlough not to amount to a repudiatory breach of contract. In these circumstances, the employer remains liable to pay to the employee 100% of the contractual wages (unless otherwise agreed) but can claim back 80% of the employee’s monthly salary, up to a £2,500 cap from the state scheme.
• How does an employer administer a furlough scheme fairly and avoid potential claims for discrimination?
• An employer may need to close a site (temporarily or permanently), or reduce staff numbers due to diminished workload, so that redundancies are required to be made.
• To avoid redundancies employees may consider agreeing to vary the terms of their contracts of employment, temporarily or permanently, and how is this done in a way that minimises risk?
• Would it be reasonable to dismiss an employee for reason of redundancy if an employee is willing to reduce their hours and pay, or due to the availability of the furlough scheme?
• Can an employer give notice of redundancy to an employee that furloughed?
• The new role of Emergency Volunteer and the statutory right to request such emergency volunteer leave, introduced by the Coronavirus Act 2020. How might this affect the business and does the employee get paid whilst on emergency volunteer leave?
The coronavirus and Covid 19 have brought all of these issues into stark focus for all employers in the UK, large and small. The Hanne & Co employment team have experience in advising employers in respect of these complex legal issues, which are developing rapidly as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and Covid 19.
At Hanne & Co solicitors we understand this is a worrying time for both employers and employees. We have organised our ways of working and can provide legal advice and support to our clients in a safe and effective way during this period of uncertainty.
We have advised employers on frustration of contract, individual and collective redundancy procedures, an employer’s responsibilities in respect of staff protection and their duty of care towards pregnant employees. We can advise on ways to reduce the risks of claims for unfair dismissal, discrimination and claims related to health and safety at work.
We can work with your business to enable you to:
• understand your legal obligations in respect of your employees during the impact of the Covid 19 outbreak;
• help you, as their employer, to take appropriate steps to protect your employees from Covid 19 at this time, and;
• support you through this challenging time, ensuring your business remains legally compliant and is managing any employment law risks appropriately.
Our rates are competitive. We can provide you with fixed fee services such as our £350 + VAT service that includes a one-off advice on the Coronavirus Act 2020, and the assistance and support that is available to employers from the UK Government at this time.
Please do not hesitate to contact the Hanne & Co Employment Department on 020 7228 0017 or email James at email@example.com or Tom at firstname.lastname@example.org.
James Collier is a Senior Associate in Hanne & Co’s Employment Department