Although it’s become the norm, working from home is still a polarising concept. While fans of the remote life are keen to make it permanent, others crave the buzz of the office as they grapple with feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Yet, despite these feelings being widespread, the government is urging us to continue working from home where possible until all COVID restrictions are lifted on 21 June. A year on, remote working has changed the way we work forever.
So, how can employers keep supporting home workers in the coming weeks – and beyond?
Working from home statistics – an overview
According to the Office for National Statistics, April 2020 saw 46.6% of UK employees work from home in some capacity –86% of them doing so because of the pandemic.
Recent research by the University of Nottingham and Stanford University revealed that post-pandemic, 40% of workers surveyed want to continue working remotely two or three days a week.
Interestingly, 76% of people felt perceptions of home working had improved as a result of the pandemic.
What challenges are homeworkers still facing?
A report from the Royal Society for Public Health revealed 67% of homeworkers felt less connected to colleagues, and 56% found it hard to switch off while home-based. Yet only 34% received mental health support from their employer.
As we face another six weeks of enforced home working, employers must maintain measures to support employees’ physical and mental wellbeing.
WFH employee checklist –
Keep up the support for your remote working team by continuing to:
Maintaining excellent communication levels for the last lap will inform how you shape your working practices moving forward.
Whether it’s a weekly Zoom or a daily call, we all know clear communication channels are the key to a happy remote workforce.
Personalise your approach
Everyone likes to communicate differently, so you have to understand your employees individually to support them effectively. Some may love a daily WhatsApp check-in; others may find group chats overwhelming, so take a sensitive approach to strike the right balance.
Everyday life is challenging for us all, so be open-minded and flexible where possible.
Approachability is critical: if your team feels comfortable giving you a heads up that they’re struggling to meet a deadline, you can make adjustments and stay on track.
Without in-person watercooler chats and Friday pizza, work can feel all-too-serious. So, keep scheduling those virtual coffee breaks and remote socials to encourage your team to switch off and have fun.
And if everyone has Zoom fatigue by now, a surprise early finish or an unexpected brownie box landing on their doorstep can brighten up even the gloomiest remote worker.
How can employers ease the transition into more permanent remote working solutions?
The next step you take as a business could significantly impact your future productivity and morale, so tread carefully to ensure you make the right decisions.
Ask your employees what their ideal situation would be. Do they want to work from home permanently? Are they desperate to get back to the office? Or, is there a happy medium of agile working between the two settings?
Find out what works for your employees, then look carefully at how you can make this work for your business. After all, giving your team the freedom to integrate work more seamlessly into their lives will ultimately boost morale, retention, and productivity.
Making the return to work easy
If you feel you need support welcoming your team back into the workplace, our free return to work toolkit is a great place to start.
It’s full of helpful information, guidance, procedures, and policies you can implement to ease the transition and successfully support your team through the change with zero disruption to your business.
Access more help supporting your team
If you need further help to support your team or you have specific questions about remote or flexible working, we can help. Contact the Crosse HR team by calling 0330 555 1139 or emailing email@example.com
“Toss a coin and see if you are disappointed”. We used to say this a lot as teenagers when struggling to make decisions or work out if we had made the right one. Today I deal with business owners making decisions all day long big and small. Decision making without proper consideration can result in costly mistakes, whilst slow decision making can cripple a business with indecision and result in lost opportunities.
Consider where you sit on the decision-making spectrum.
Quick Decision Making
Slow Decision Making
Act now deal with any consequences later
Quick sense check of financial impact
Review info promptly, discuss and decide
Canvass multiple opinions
Canvass multiple opinions and prepare multiple scenarios
Think about the impact of your approach, is it right for your business and is it right for you. Would you like to move along the spectrum in either direction or consider what you need to do that?
You don’t need a detailed forecast every time you make a decision, but you do need to understand the financial impact. A couple of examples might be –
Change in sales Mix – Consider if you have the key data established to enable you to understand for example the impact of a change in sales mix. It is often straight forward to pick up the external costs for any changes but think also about the impact on your time, your margins and that of your team of any change.
New clients – Growth requires investment so understanding how much you will need to pay out in outsource costs, product costs, system changes or new staff costs will influence your funding requirements.
Think about who you talk to when making decisions about the business – is it too many or not enough?
Do you currently make all decisions yourself with no additional input and does that feel right to you or conversely do you ask too many people and acknowledge this then delays your decision making?
You need to ensure you are asking the right people the right questions…. think carefully about their experiences, one might be right for financials, one for culture, one for process changes.
Challenge and Support
Consider who you have around you when making these decisions too – we can all get stuck in our ways. Think about the last time someone told you your idea wasn’t quite right, how did you react- did you listen, and did you consider your position?
Surround yourself with good people with complementary skill sets who you trust and who you know will both challenge and support you.
Consider other business owners with similar challenges perhaps you can create a partnership to challenge and hold each other accountable. You may have other senior team members who you can be more open with and encourage them to bring new ideas and challenge the status quo.
- Be honest about where you are on the spectrum.
- Write three bullet points which state what level of support and challenge you feel you need.
- Consider your wider network and internal team and who could fulfil this role to help improve your decision-making.
Right now, we know you’re facing tough decisions in the workplace, and redundancies are commonplace. Yet, a lack of basic understanding still surrounds redundancy in many businesses.
Our free restructuring toolkit is full of essential information and resources, including a general guide to redundancy, how the redundancy process works and templates for your business plan, consultations, meeting records, notice periods and at-risk employee communications.
In this blog, we’ll give you an insight into what you’ll find in our restructuring toolkit and answer your top 10 most pressing redundancy questions. Read on to gain a clear, practical grasp of redundancy to move forward confidently.
#1 – I have four people and three jobs. Can I make the last one redundant?
No, the “last in, first out” criteria was abolished years ago, as it paved the way for claims of indirect age and gender discrimination and unfair dismissal. Instead, use selection criteria or a competitive interview process to determine who you will make redundant.
#2 – Can I make redundant employees work their notice period?
Yes, as per the terms of their contract. Although employees can try to negotiate a shorter notice period with you, that’s your decision. If your employees refuse to work out their notice, they’ll be in breach of their contract, and you won’t have to pay them for this period.
#3 – Do I have to pay redundancy?
Yes. If your employees have more than two years’ service, they’re entitled to a statutory redundancy payment paid out by the employer.
#4 – Do I have to pay a redundancy notice?
Yes. Regardless of the length of service, all employees are entitled to a paid notice period during a redundancy.
#5 – Can I make a pregnant employee redundant?
Yes, although not because she is pregnant. If you wish to make a pregnant employee redundant, you must follow the proper process and ensure her job is genuinely redundant. If you fail to do this, your employee can claim unfair dismissal on the grounds of her gender and circumstances.
#6 – Can I reinstate the job after making someone redundant?
No. The point of redundancy is that the job no longer exists, so you don’t require that employee’s services to fulfil it. If you immediately advertise for the same position after making someone redundant, it isn’t a genuine redundancy, and you could face legal action.
#7 – If business picks up following a redundancy process, can I reinstate the job?
You should wait between six to 12 months after a redundancy process before introducing and advertising for a similar role, or it won’t be a genuine redundancy. If trade has improved significantly after this period, you can review your requirements and proceed accordingly.
#8 – An employee I wanted to retain has volunteered for redundancy. What should I do?
Redundancy is an employer’s choice, not the employee’s. So, ultimately, it’s your decision to make. However, if your employee is volunteering for redundancy, they are likely to be unhappy in their job and may look elsewhere. Therefore, talk to the employee to address any concerns or issues they have to see if you can help them feel happier in their role.
#9 – Can I take redundant employees back if business picks up?
Yes, you can and should.
#10 – How do I stop redundant employees suing me?
You can’t unless you ask them to sign a Settlement Agreement. All employees have a right to take their claim to an employment tribunal if they feel you’ve treated them unlawfully. However, if you’re confident you’ve followed procedure and treated employees fairly, this shouldn’t pose an issue to your business.
How do I find bespoke redundancy support?
In this blog, we’ve covered the 10 most common questions you’ve asked us about redundancy.
However, if we haven’t answered your question here and you need further advice, we can offer you bespoke support designed around your needs and circumstances.
There’s no need to deal with your HR headache alone – let us ease the pain by providing practical support.
Call us on 0330 555 1139 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, and let’s see how we can help you navigate redundancies with confidence.
Change is coming: are you prepared? This April, the new financial year brings significant changes to the employer landscape – namely, IR35 and the EU settlement scheme. Read on for the key facts and dates you need to know to ensure your business is ready.
IR35 applies to people who work for a business in a self-employed capacity but are essentially employees. Clamping down on this practice, changes to UK law will see HMRC recover unpaid tax and National Insurance from businesses if they believe employers are guilty of using self-employment loopholes to avoid giving employees necessary rights and benefits.
From 1 April 2021, companies that employ more than 50 employees or have a turnover of over £10.2 million will need to pay tax or National Insurance for workers or contractors who are essentially employees.
What’s the difference between an employee and a contractor?
Employees have a contract, paid holidays, PAYE, pensions, and a host of employment rights. Meanwhile, self-employed freelancers, workers, and contractors submit invoices, aren’t entitled to holiday or sick pay, and don’t share the same rights as employees.
EU settled status
Another critical change coming to the world of employment is the EU settled status. This applies to businesses with EU citizens working for them, as the individuals will have to reapply for residency status.
Post-Brexit, EU workers can only remain in the UK if they arrived before 31 December 2020 and have applied for residency via the EU Settlement Scheme.
Once individuals have settled status, they’re free to remain in the UK indefinitely and may be eligible to apply for citizenship.
Pre-settled status is available to those who have been in the UK for less than five years. It permits them to stay for five years, after which they can choose to apply for full settled status if they wish to remain here.
The good news is, there’s still time to apply for EU settled status if you or your employees haven’t done it yet.
The deadline for employees to apply for EU settled status is 30 June 2021. It’s free, and you can do it here: https://www.gov.uk/settled-status-eu-citizens-families/applying-for-settled-status
If you’re unsure whether your employees have a legal right to work in the UK post-Brexit, you can check here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/right-to-work-checklist
Can I still employ someone from outside the UK post-Brexit?
Free movement between the UK and the EU ended on 31 December 2020, and a new points-based immigration system is in place in the UK.
So, while you can still employ people from the EU to work in your business following Brexit, they must score the necessary points and have a relevant work permit or status, and you must have a sponsor licence from the Home Office.
Skilled workers who have a job offer from an approved employer sponsor must have a skill level equivalent of RQF3 (equivalent to A level), speak English, score 70 points on the system, and earn at least £25,600 (or the “going rate” for the job).
Employees earning lower salaries may still apply by “trading” points, or if their job is on the shortage occupation list.
You may also transfer an employee from another part of your international business to work in the UK via an “intra-company transfer”, but certain stipulations apply.
Need help preparing for IR35 or post-Brexit employment?
Hopefully, this summary will help you work through the changes coming up in 2021.
If you still need any advice or support, we’re here to help. Call us on 0330 555 1139 or drop us a line at email@example.com
You can also take a look at our webinar below, delivered for RIBA West London to share some insight on HR matters currently affecting their members. After many interminable months of furlough doom and gloom, it was great to talk about how businesses can prepare for the future:
- Brexit and work permits
- IR35 and the impact on contracts
- And more
Check out the recording below and ensure you plan for the upcoming change.
Our MD and experienced HR consultant, Olga Crosse, recently joined Fulcrum Care Consulting to discuss what your options are if your staff in care homes refuse to take the COVID-19 vaccine. Olga covers where you stand legally, what the best way to approach your staff is and a ‘last resort protocol’ if staff continuously refuse to take the vaccine. Read on to discover more.
Since the start of the Covid vaccine roll out we have been asked by a lot of our clients who operate in the Care Home space ‘what should we do with some staff who are refusing to have the vaccine, can we force them to?’.
According to Andrew Gregory of the Sunday Times it is expected that between 6% and 8% of the 1.5 million people who work in social care will refuse the vaccine. It has been reported that the National Care Association (NCA) is taking a legal opinion on whether or not care home staff can be ‘made’ to accept the vaccine as they are concerned that as many as 40% of care home staff may refuse the vaccine. On the plus side Nadra Ahmed Chairwoman of the NCA has said that between 50% and 60% of care home staff will definitely have the vaccine. So where does a care home provider stand legally?
Where do you stand legally with the Covid vaccine?
There is no simple answer to that, as a rule you cannot force anyone to accept the Covid vaccine if they do not want to and there is plenty of legislation that protects that right e.g. The Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 specifically states that a member of the public should not be compelled to undergo any mandatory medical treatment, including vaccinations. An employer may fall foul of the Equalities Act 2010 if someone objects on religious or other grounds not to mention breaching Article 8 (right to family and a home life) of the Human Rights Act.
Is there anything else that you can do?
The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 which states that employers have a duty of care to ensure a safe working environment might actually go some way in solving the Covid vaccine conundrum for care homes. Basically, employers have to ensure that the people they care for are not exposed to any risks. In that case, it could be deemed reasonable for a care home employer to insist that employees are vaccinated in a care home setting, in order to protect the residents that are being cared. Care Home employers could even make that a pre-condition of employment, which according to Lee Peart of CHP (Care Home Professional), Barchester Healthcare have done just that, and said that they won’t hire anyone who refuses to take vaccination on non-medical grounds. They have made it a condition of employment for any new hires and that is acceptable in that context, however as always we urge employers to proceed with caution before they do anything like that and always take HR and legal advice.
Consultation and communication with care home staff
Persuasion is always better than mandating anyone to do anything they don’t want to do. As with most things, it’s the fear of the unknown, and lack of communication that scares people the most. Therefore, we recommend care home owners (and employers in general) consult with their staff, listen to any concerns, act on those concerns and put measures in place to protect them to try and persuade nervous or dissenting employees to actually take the vaccine.
What should you do as a last resort?
As a last resort, if consultation and persuasion doesn’t work, care home employers could then take the nuclear step and specifically ‘instruct’ the employees to take the vaccine (as the vaccine is there to protect the residents and the staff, this could be seen as a reasonable management instruction) and any refusal to do so would be seen as ‘refusing a reasonable management instruction’ which is a disciplinary offence, which could potentially lead to an employee’s dismissal. We would urge caution before taking this route and try as much as possible to get consensus and agreement first. It is always better to persuade than to impose and legally a lot safer.
Other employers outside of the care home sector need to be very careful in insisting employees take the vaccine (Pimlico Plumbers springs to mind) and making it a condition of employment. Insisting might not be seen as reasonable in any other context and again might be in breach of a number of pieces of legislation, and you could be sued, so if you are a care home owner be sure to proceed with caution and to take HR and legal advice before you take any actions outlined above.
Fulcrum Care Ltd is a dedicated management support consultancy for care homes. Whatever the nature of your query, whether relating to help with a CQC inspection, improvement programmes, care compliance activities, best practice advice or management support, please get in touch for an initial discussion on finding the right solution for you and your care home.