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EU Settle Status

EU Settle Status

Settle Status: EU Workforce

 

Do you have employees from the EU working within your business? Changes to the law may mean that they have to reapply to secure their residency status with the new EU Settle Status.

To make this transition period easier, we’ll be stepping you through what you need to know as an employer to support the welfare of these employees in such indefinite times.

What is the EU Settle Status?

 

On 31 January 2020, the United Kingdom officially left the European Union. Although no official deal has been agreed upon yet, changes have started to slowly filter through – one of the largest being ‘Settled Status’.

But what is settled status and why does it matter?

Settled status is the term for being a resident in the UK without any immigration restrictions on the length of your stay. There are two types of status in the EU Settlement Scheme:

  • Settled status
  • Pre-settled status

Settled Status:

 

EU citizens who are granted settled status are permitted to stay in the UK as long as they choose; they can also apply for a British citizenship if they are eligible.

 

Pre-settled Status:

 

Pre-settled status – which is usually granted to those who have not lived in the UK for five continuous years – allows inhabitants to stay in the UK for a further five years from the date they are granted pre-settled status. After this period, individuals can reapply for full settled status.

 

Important Notes:

 

The deadline for applying is 30 June 2021.

It is free to apply to the scheme through the government website.

Before beginning the application process for settlement status, applicants should have ready proof of identity and residency. It may also be worth double-checking that applicants have not already received pre-agreed settle status here.

 

What does this mean for employees?

 

Citizens of the EU, EEA or Switzerland can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the UK after 30 June 2021. Without confirmed settlement status, these citizens will not have the assumed right to:

  • Work in the UK
  • Use the NHS for free
  • Enrol in education (or continue studying)
  • Access public funds, such as benefits (if eligible)
  • Enter the UK without a visa

Employees that do not have settled status face the potential risk of having paperwork refused, being unable to work legally in the UK and even deportation – uprooting their family, career and life.

Therefore, it is important to support your EU workforce through their application to ensure there is no disruption to their legal right to work or live in the UK after this deadline.

 

How can employers help?

Importance of application:

 

As employers, there is no legal requirement to inform your workforce of the impending deadline but it’s a good idea to ensure there are no legal hiccups (and it also feels like the right thing to do).

Employers do not require proof that employees have applied but getting status through the scheme will protect their future rights, so it is very important that they apply if you want them to continue working for you.

 

Encouraging application:

 

There are a few practical steps you can take to encourage your employees to apply.

Why not start by sending a letter to all your EU employees? It doesn’t have to take much time with letter templates already drafted up and ready to go. You can also ensure visual cues help prompt their minds by displaying informative posters.

Remember: although you can encourage people to apply, as an employer, you cannot ask them whether they have or about the outcome.

 

Supporting the process itself:

 

The process itself was designed to be as seamless as possible. However, with the added complication of coronavirus, a few spanners have been thrown in the works.

Due to many businesses being shut for a number of months and international travel complications, employees may have struggled to renew expiring passports. Therefore, workers may require flexible hours or additional holiday days to address this before their application.

Further, it may be useful to make your facilities available for support. For example, at this time, many printing shops and internet cafes are shut due to the pandemic. Therefore, pre-granting access for your employees to use your scanner, printer or work phone for their application may aid their progress.

Finally, although it is not standard procedure, if the employee requires any documentation to support their application then provide this in a timely manner; holding this process up will cause additional stress for the employee, distracting them from their work and prolonging indecision.

 

Managing stress:

 

The uncertainty formed in the last few months has had an impact on everyone. However, we must consider those who experience further doubt about their rights within the country compassionately.

Managing stress and keeping a close eye on employees is essential at all times. Look out for key indicators of deteriorating wellbeing, such as:

  • Reduced engagement
  • Missed deadlines
  • Lower morale
  • Increased tiredness

If you notice a significant shift in their wellbeing, it may be time to check in; look out for tell-tale signs of poor employee mental health and be ready to act.

Where possible, refer employees for additional support and be compassionate towards their situation. It may be worth considering ways you can support employees with stress outside of work with flexible working, duvet days or even a shift in the workplace culture.

The charity MIND has some great, free resources to help individuals manage stress – at work and home. Could sharing some of their best resources equip your taskforce with more resilience?

 

What next?

 

Considering your current employees is a great first step, but what about future employees?

Recruitment Process:

 

If you are planning on recruiting before the settlement deadline, it’s important that you don’t sit on your hands.

Speeding up your recruitment process will allow your business to:

  • Beat the deadline;
  • Widen your search for talent;
  • Allow the successful candidate (if from the EU) to apply for settlement status in time.

Discrimination

 

As an employer, you have a duty “not to discriminate against EU citizens in light of the UK’s decision to leave the EU as both a prospective and current employer”.

That means that you cannot make an offer of employment, or continued employment, dependent on an individual having made an application. However, consideration should not stop here; ensure you address workplace discrimination at all levels for a safe working environment for all.

Consider:

  • Checking your processes and procedures for bias
  • Educating employees on how to report discrimination
  • Including EU citizens in your diversity reports
  • Reminding employees of the fine line between ‘banter’ and discriminatory harassment
  • Ensuring you have the processes in place to address hostility appropriately

Right to work checks:

 

It has been confirmed that there will be no change to right to work checks until 1 January 2021. That means that job applicants can continue to prove their right to work using any of the following:

  • their valid passport or national identity card if they’re an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen
  • their valid biometric residence card if they’re a non-EU, EEA or Swiss citizen family member
  • their status under the EU Settlement Scheme using the Home Office’s online right to work checking service.

You will not be required to undertake retrospective checks on existing EU employees. Therefore, changes will only apply to applications in the new year.

For more information, read the official right to work checklist here.

 

More help

 

For official support on how employers should support the EU Settle Status scheme, GOV have created an ‘employer toolkit’ here.

However, if you require expert HR support and consultancy, please get in touch.

 

 

Connection That Transcends Distance

Connection That Transcends Distance

More than a band-aid

Six months ago, businesses were forced to migrate to a new way of working almost overnight as we were urged to stay home to contain the virus. Although many businesses adapted well and remote working became commonplace, the process was rushed – driven by panic and spurred by the need to survive.

These fixes were never built to last.

As we look forward, it seems that remote working is here to stay – with many businesses challenging more traditional setups and looking to ditch or reduce their office overheads. But to be successful long-term, more structure and investment is required – particularly in the effort required to maintain a positive employee connection that transcends distance.

So, how can you keep your team engagement and morale high when working conditions are somewhat different to what you’ve been used to? We discuss this and more, with example to the drawbacks and how to address these going forward.

 

Leading from the front

Winckworth Sherwood found that 78% of employers are planning on “long-term operational changes” as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • 9% considering closing their offices completely
  • 26% considering reducing their office space
  • 47% increasing flexibility around working from home
  • 38% increasing flexibility around set working hours

With huge businesses such as BT and Twitter making the offer to employees to permanently choose how they work it feels like we’re on the precipice of a huge cultural shift.

But, with change comes new challenges. What are the issues associated with managing people from afar and how can you look after your staff when you can’t see them? Let’s take a look.

 

Overcoming barriers to remote working

On the surface, remote working sounds great. It can help employers lure in exceptional talent, reduce office costs, chat and distractions and your employees will relish in their newfound sense of freedom – working how and when they work best.

So, what’s with all the reluctancy and why are some so keen to get back to the office?

Whilst working from home is popular right now, there must be some consideration into the long-term consequences that will begin to appear in the not so distant future.

At this time of great upheaval, we’re going to steer you through some of the HR issues that arise when working from home – with some thought-provoking insight and direction on how to mitigate any hurdles. So, let’s dive in.

 

Negative impacts on employee wellbeing

It is reported that 62% of employees would be “happy” if their offices closed and working from home became a permanent setup. But that leaves a good proportion of the workforce unhappy with this situation.

There are many reasons this may be, as the office can provide benefits for employees including:

  • Social interaction
  • Support – personally and professionally
  • Routine and a change of scenery
  • A place to focus without distractions, such as childcare
  • Relief from home pressures, such as strained relationships

So, without the face-to-face interaction you’re used to, how can you look after employees? Be sure to look a little closer for the signs of someone struggling, including reduced engagement or participation, missed deadlines or overdoing their hours. These may be an indication that an employee’s mental health is declining.

To combat this, consider:

  • Regular team meetings at a coffee shop or co-working space (when safe to do so)
  • Making support digital, such as posting self-help and advice on the intranet
  • Setting up support groups, buddy systems and social nights
  • Encouraging employees to log their hours
  • Reminding employees of their line manager

 

Playing fair

There is some stipulation that the increase in remote working will lead to a more unjust workplace. So how can you play fair in an increasingly competitive environment?

Say there’s a big promotion coming up. Who will be seen more favourably for the leg up: an employee who is frequently present and visible within the office or a team member that may be less well-known working from home?

There’s a great possibility that a two-tier workforce will soon be established – dividing those that come into work and those that don’t. And, with childcare being a key draw for remote working, women are likely to be most affected by this, causing the gender pay gap to be even further widened.

Other concerns include wages being driven down – due to reduced travel expenses, outsourcing and increased competition. Although it’s understandable for businesses to try and reduce costs, this will further suppress our economy and lead your customers to also look for the cheapest option.

Therefore, is leaning towards this remote workforce just a way of shooting ourselves in the foot? Honestly, we can’t tell you how to run your business. However, to stay mindful, take five to contemplate the following…

Consider:

  • Creating a fair criterion for the recruitment process
  • Annually publishing your gender pay report
  • Actively planning to reduce any variance found [see above]
  • Mapping your pay against GDP and inflation

 

Effective work

A huge 46% of HR decision makers are concerned that employees won’t be able to carry out their jobs effectively at home. However, almost half this number of employees have the same concern. So why is this?

A great way to measure whether employees can work effectively at home is to determine what ‘effective’ means to you; take some time to document what a ‘good’ job done looks like.

Consider:

  • Outcome-based measurement
  • Clear communication
  • Realistic deadlines
  • Regular reviews

By measuring outcomes, rather than hours spent in the office, you can then begin to measure whether an employee is effectively working at home or not. Be sure to provide clarity on objectives, detail what is expected from employees and what they need to achieve and by when.

If you have not done the role yourself, you may find it useful to have a discussion with employees to discuss what is reasonable within their time constraints. After all, overly ambitious targets often turn employees off and lead to a decline in motivation, job satisfaction and mental health.

 

Lack of control (trust)

By having employees under their roof, many employers feel as if they can control their employees better. At the end of the day, the issue is: do you trust your employees?

Failure to trust your employees can lead to wasted time on micromanagement, a reluctancy to take ownership of responsibilities and a reduction in engagement and job satisfaction – with employees viewing ‘spying’ negatively. Trust them too much and you risk them feeling lost or taking advantage.

Therefore, it may reassure you to learn that only 12% of employees struggle to motivate themselves. In fact, employees that work from home tend to work harder due to concerns that it will be perceived negatively or that their privileges will be revoked.

To combat this, consider:

  • Learning what makes employees tick and ensuring they feel supported
  • Checking in regularly to monitor and ensure progress
  • Clearly communicating expectations
  • Set meetings and PDRs to review progress and rectify any issues.

 

Monitoring

We anticipate that AI and monitoring will be stepped up in the months to come. In fact, it’s already happening before our very eyes!

Employees can no longer log in early, collect the kids from school and pretend they were working all along. Technology can now determine when you touch your keypad and will alert your manager if you haven’t been active.

Your emails may be monitored too – determining your intentions and engagement by unpicking what and how you word your emails.

So, with monitoring expected to greatly increase, how can we avoid upsetting employees?

To avoid upset, consider:

  • Being transparent about how technologies works
  • Explaining why it has been put in place
  • Outlining how technology will be used (eg, in PDRs)
  • Addressing any concerns that employees may have.

Remember: any worker that has been with you for at least 26 weeks automatically gains the right to apply for flexible working. If you deem it appropriate to grant requests and feel this will not impact the individual’s ability to perform, this may provide a more open solution that will stop employees feeling the need to deceive their employer.

 

Need more help?

If you are considering whether a return to the office is essential, safe and mutually agreed, check out the CIPD’s useful resource here. It helps point you towards some useful resources and raises some poignant questions.

If you need some support adjusting to remote working and require some assistance motivating and engaging your employees, get in touch with Crosse HR.

Our experts offer shrewd HR solutions that won’t break the bank. Discover more today.

 

 

Staying Small

Staying Small

Good things come in small packages – or so that’s how the old saying goes. But if ‘bigger is better’ which should we choose?

When it comes to running your business, no one way is correct.

Yet, the business community is under the impression that growth and speed equals success – despite two-thirds of the fastest-growing businesses ending in failure. So, why does society risk this boom and bust cycle, rather than striving for a small and lean business?

Here we discuss some of the key pros and cons of keeping your business small to help you assess whether a slender approach is right for you.

 

Less Overheads (More Time)

It’s no big secret that staying small means businesses can unlock significantly lower overheads than their larger-counterparts, with savings on costs such as:

  • Office space
  • Expenses
  • Resources

In fact, research from Llyods Bank suggests that, due to a reliance on informal sources, small businesses can continue to save significantly – replacing the financial costs associated with accountants and support services with business advice and favours from friends, relatives and former colleagues.

With significantly reduced overheads and the negated requirement for expensive loans or investors, it is perhaps no surprise that most small businesses start turning a profit by year two with efficiency and their lean structure to thank.

However, for what you save in overheads, you may be paying back in time.

On average, small business owners put in 75 extra days per year than the general workforce. In fact, a whopping 39% of small business owners admitted to habitually working over 60 hours a week.

So, if time is money, where do we draw the line?

 

High Control (High Stress)

Large companies often have thousands of employees in a number of offices – separated by time difference, distance and culture. However, with a small business, this is much less likely, increasing your ability for control.

By controlling all elements of your business, such as overseeing departments, a holistic approach can be applied to business. This may aid you in making informed decisions such as how and where your business operates and give you the ability to take a strategic focus.

However, the dark side to this ability to take control is an inability to switch off.

As a small business owner, you are the business. If you don’t deal with a problem, no one will. So how can you take a break?

Being a small business owner can be a big burden to bear alone. Failure to delegate can lead to overworking and feelings of overwhelm and stress.

On average, small business owners only take two weeks holiday per year – with 81% reporting that they make or return business calls during this time. So, is this an indication that small business owners struggle to relax or is it because they love their job?

You may be surprised to learn that smaller organisations are the happiest at work – with many owners stating that they ‘love’ their job and would do it if money were no object. That said, being a small business owner will still have a significant effect on your lifestyle.

 

Ability to Adapt

With size comes cumbersome red tape that slows down a business’ ability to adapt.

  • Paperwork
  • Processes
  • Hierarchy
  • Slow sign-off

These are just some of the reasons why staying small can help businesses be more nimble, adaptable and agile –positioning them perfectly to respond to change.

We have seen this recently, with the global pandemic taking the world by shock. Many small businesses quickly snapped back into action – moving operations online, changing their offering or even pivoting to take their business in a new direction. This is an unrivalled benefit that large businesses struggle to replicate well.

However, evidence shows that small businesses are less likely to take out loans, with female business owners being particularly frugal with their money. Due to this risk-adversity, although the business is set up with the strategic flexibility to adapt, a lack of resource may hinder this in action.

 

Happy Environment (Harder Cuts)

Instead of feeling like silos scattered with seas and sands between them, small businesses can enjoy the benefits of being one, happy team.

A study by LinkedIn found that employees working for small businesses created the most positive working environments, with 77% of employees reporting that they would recommend their employer to a friend. This is for a number of reasons:

  • Higher control over the work process
  • Sense of belonging
  • Social relationships
  • Higher job satisfaction
  • Opportunities for development
  • Ownership of their work

And, with increased productivity being a result of so many of these factors, the argument for staying small is strong. But what’s the drawback?

According to Duréndez et al, small businesses have less formal management, control measures and processes in place – often relying on a single figure-head to make decisions. In small businesses, it was found that close social relationships, for example, friends or family influences, may cause leaders to make bad business decisions, such as keeping deadwood.

In light of the last few months, it leads us to consider whether small businesses will fail due to their increased loyalty and inability to make the tough cuts that may be required to survive. We urge business owners not to make this mistake and to, instead, reframe smaller businesses as a lean and favourable option that sits on the table.

 

Is staying small right for you?

The answer – it depends on you.

Just remember, a smaller, more lean business doesn’t have to be a back step. It can provide a number of great benefits that make your business a more profitable, productive and enjoyable place to work.

Restructuring your business can feel like an overwhelming task. However, right now, many businesses are being forced down this route in a bid for survival.

During these testing times, the team at Crosse HR are trying to do their bit – supporting small businesses by providing free templates to help time and resources go further.

Download our free restructuring toolkit here and take your first step towards a smaller, leaner business.

 

 

Restructuring Toolkit

Restructuring Toolkit

We decided, as part of the Coming back from Covid series, to give you a quick guide to restructuring.

Whether you are just moving the chairs around the room or making people redundant, our Restructuring Toolkit should provide you a great place to make a start.

We’ve included some templates to help you along – helping you make the most out of your limited time and budget at this difficult time. We sincerely hope that it helps with this difficult time ahead.

Restructuring Toolkit - COVID19 HR Pack

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Change is Gonna Come

Change is Gonna Come

To quote the title of a famous Sam Cooke song, one of the many consequences of the lockdown is that we have all had plenty of time to think, ruminate and ponder about our lives. For us business owners, this time of reflection has extended to include our businesses.

As a result, many may well be facing the prospect of changing their business to adapt to the changing times – be it out of necessity or because you have finally had the time required to get your house and business in order and consider the future.

In short, whether we like it or not ‘A change is gonna come’.

 

Restructuring Your Business

Whether a restructure is a choice or your only option, it can feel like a pretty overwhelming task to approach alone… So, where should you begin?

Below, we share some of the common questions we get asked about restructures and provide clarity to help you on your way.

 

“Can I just ‘do it’?”

Yes, you can. However, we recommend getting a restructure plan in place first.

This doesn’t have to be anything fancy or a scary task. Just write out your rationale for doing it, the consequences it will have, the timeline for carrying it out and the process that you will follow.

Doing so will help you gather your thoughts and put some structure around it, so that you can communicate it to your staff.

“What is consultation?”

Consultation is borne out of Information and Consultation Directive, where employers are obliged to consult with employees on any aspect that will affect their employment.

Before you moan, you really should do it!

However, be sure not to confuse consultation with negotiation. Whilst you should take on board your employees’ views about the restructure, you are under no obligation to actually implement those views.

“Do I have to consult?”

Yes, because failure to consult can cost you.

An employment tribunal can award a penalty for failure to consult. And, in the case of TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings – Protection of Employment Regulations), that award is 13 week’s salary.

“How long should consultation last?”

There are no hard and fast rules if your business has less than 20 employees. However, it should be no less than a week and as much time as possible.

“Can I use Last In, First Out?”

We’re telling you now – no you can’t. We’re not sure where the LIFO philosophy came from but forget you ever heard of it.

“Does furlough cover redundancy?”

The short answer is no.

If you are looking to end furlough to make your employees redundant, seek further support or contact us.

“What is selection criteria?”

Selection criteria is the basis by which you will select employees for redundancy.

The criteria can be based on attendance, performance, disciplinary, experience and qualifications to name but a few. Some businesses choose to base this on a competitive recruitment process.

 

Helping You Restructure

We decided, as part of the Coming back from Covid series, to give you a quick guide to restructuring.

Whether you are just moving the chairs around the room or making people redundant, our Restructuring Toolkit should provide you a great place to make a start.

As we are a generous lot here at CrosseHR, we’ve also included a few templates to help you along – helping you make the most out of your limited time and budget at this difficult time.

And remember, if you need any further help with your restructure or any HR concerns, we are just a phone call away: 0330 555 139.

 

What’s included in our Restructuring Toolkit?

 

Our restructuring toolkit is free to download here. Included within it is:

  • Restructure business plan template
  • General guide to redundancy and the redundancy procedure
  • Consultation invitation letter template
  • Template for recording individual consultations
  • Letter template to inform employees they are ‘at risk’
  • Formal redundancy notice template

 

You can download it for free here.

 

Criminal Record Checks

Criminal Record Checks

If an applicant or employee has a criminal record, that doesn’t mean they aren’t right for the job.

You may be surprised to learn how many people end up with a criminal conviction by the age of 53. So, how does this affect your hiring decisions?

We explore this and more in our presentation below.

Get to understand criminal record checks in our presentation below, including:

-The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act
-Different Types of DBS
-Spent vs Unspent Convictions
-Disclosure
-Filtering
-Risk Assessments

Please play and pause the slideshow by pressing the button in the bottom left of the video.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

 

Preparing to Return to Work: HR in a Post-Lockdown World

Preparing to Return to Work: HR in a Post-Lockdown World

We are living in very strange times and it is not the first time I have said that…

Who would ever have thought 3 months ago that we would all be cooped up in our own homes for days at a time, let out for an hour, having to queue for our shopping, fretting about toilet roll and tinned tomatoes, baking banana bread and relying on a thing called Zoom we had barely even heard of? Some days, I feel like we’re trapped in some weird apocalyptic Netflix drama – but maybe that’s just because I’ve spent a while watching that too – Tiger King and White Lines anyone?

 

Moving Forward – HR in a Post-Lockdown World

However, lockdown didn’t keep us down for long. We adapted surprisingly quickly, kept going and it’s starting to feel like we’re finally coming out on the other side.

That’s the reason for this blog to be honest…

My raison d’etre is to help small businesses navigate the intricacies and plain madness that comes from employing staff, so I decided to make things easier for you all and put together a pack with all the common questions I am being asked by you about the ‘BIG RETURN’ – along with some guidance, information and resources that should help ease your concerns.

The amazing Helen Fleet will also be contributing from a financial standpoint (we are all in this together).

 

So, you want to open up and start the BIG RETURN, what should you do?

Firstly, you need to think about what your organisation needs to look like; i.e. will it be the same or will you need to pivot and change?

  • Do you need to bring people back into the office or keep them working from home for a while or for the foreseeable future?
  • Have you furloughed staff you need to bring back or are you keeping them on furlough or a bit of both?
  • Will some staff be returning at all?

 

Bringing People Back

What should you be considering before you bring people back? Making these considerations is a great place to start…

1. The big first tranche of returnees will occur in July where the furlough rules are changing to allow employees to be furloughed on a part-time basis. If you need to take employees off furlough, it is advisable to write to them to have it confirmed. In our COVID support kit, we’ve crafted a brief returning from furlough letter template to make this an easy task.

2. You need to do a Risk Assessment for each returning employee.  Unfortunately, the only COVID specific risk assessment I could find is from the Northern Ireland HSE but its great and I highly recommend you use this as a basis for your risk assessments. You can view it within the risk assessment pack of our toolkit here.

3. You need to get your offices ready so that the appropriate level of social distancing can occur. It’s also a good idea to deep clean the office if you can and provide plenty of hand sanitiser, soap and notices from the HSE around hygiene and safe practice. Encouraging good hygiene practice will help to keep to kill the virus.

4. You also need to think about your employees’ journeys to work. Does this put them at risk?

5. It may be worth considering staggering and extending hours, and whether working more flexibly could help your business get back quicker. Check out our Flexible Working Policy within our pack for more information on this.

6. Do you even want your employees in the office at all – or would you prefer they worked from home? If so, we’ve also created a Working from Home Policy to help you formalise and control this agreement.

7. You may want to restructure.

8. You may need to consider redundancies.

These are just some of the considerations you may want to make before rushing back to work.

 

When They Return

Mental health, divorce, feelings of anxiety and displacement, pure joy and relief – these are just some of the things you must prepare to face on your return.

But don’t worry, CrosseHR are here to help and we have you covered. Our comprehensive Return to Work Toolkit has been drawn up by experts and our team. It’s designed to help provide you with everything you need to get started, including:

  • Introduction
  • Information on Ending Furlough
  • Return to Work Letter Template
  • Information for Directors
  • Health and Wellbeing Policy
  • Sickness and Isolation Support
  • Health and Safety Guidance
  • Changing Terms and Conditions
  • Childcare and Returning to Work
  • Maternity Issues
  • Conducting Return to Work Interviews
  • Flexible Working Policy
  • Flexible Working Request Form
  • Flexible Working Methods
  • Homeworking Policy
  • Stress Awareness Template
  • Supporting Employees – Debt
  • Energise – Tackle Business Finances with Helen Fleet
  • Supporting Employees – Divorce

So feel free to download it, it’s on us! And, if you want to chat further, we are always delighted to help.

Olga Crosse, on behalf of the team at Crosse HR.

 

 

It’s All Change

It’s All Change

It can be hard to keep on top of the latest advice and regulations at the best of times when you’re spread thin and busy with deadlines – let alone in the middle of a global pandemic. 

Understandably, many of our clients feel overwhelmed by all the information out there. Especially with so many opinion pieces and inaccurate assumptions, it can be hard to know what to trust. 

To help you cut through all of this noise, we’ve collated some useful resources to help address your most pressing concerns. 

This article outlines some of the key changes that you should be aware of and points you in the right direction for more information and support should you need it. 

We hope it helps in this stressful time. 

 

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme 

It is well reported that HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers’ wage costs up to a cap of £2,500pm. This is part of their plan to support businesses during the coronavirus outbreak. 

Who counts as a furloughed worker? 

A furloughed worker is someone who is still employed but not working, perhaps due to a lack of work. The purpose of this scheme is to help businesses to continue paying employees that would have otherwise been laid off by putting them on temporary leave. 

Furloughed employees must have been on your PAYE payroll on 28 February 2020, and can be on any type of contract, including: 

  • Full-time employees 
  • Part-time employees 
  • Employees on agency contracts 
  • Employees on flexible or zero-hour contracts 

 If you have made employees redundant since 28 February 2020, you can rehire and cover these employees under the scheme too. 

What will it cost the employer? 

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is open to all UK employers for at least three months starting from 1 March 2020. In addition to the 80% grant covered by the government, businesses must also pay:  

  • Employer National Insurance contribution 
  • Minimum enrolment employer pension contribution 

Where a company is being taken under the management of an administrator, the administrator will be able to access the Job Retention Scheme. 

Useful Resources 

A breakdown of the government support available for businesses 

How to access the scheme 

 

Claiming Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) 

If you’re self-isolating because of COVID-19, you are entitled to receive Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) of £94.25 per week. 

When can I claim SSP? 

New legislation has been brought forward to give you access to SSP from the first day you’re self-isolating and cannot work. This new legislation came into action on 13.03.20 and overrides the previous 4-day caveat. 

Useful Resources 

How to report and manage sickness in 10 easy steps 

When should I self-isolate? 

How to claim SSP 

 

Changes to IR35 

In light of the coronavirus creating business uncertainty and high levels of stress, the Treasury confirmed that they would postpone IR35 for another year. 

This means that businesses now have until April 2021 to address the reforms necessary. These changes will drive major change in the contracting industry. 

What is IR35? 

IR35 is designed to combat tax avoidance by “disguised employees”. Under new rules, every medium and large private sector business in the UK will become liable for setting the tax status of any employee that they hire – including contract and temporary workers. 

The new rules will apply to businesses with either: 

  • 50+ employees 
  • An annual turnover of over £10.2 million 

With many companies already reviewing their policies and contracts in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, now is a great time to address IR35 so that you’re prepared when the changes come in next April. 

Useful Resources 

What are the changes that IR35 will make? 

Understanding off-payroll working (IR35) 

 

The Good Work Plan 

As of April 2020, The Good Work Plan comes into place. This is a plan that sets out the government’s vision for the future of the UK labour market. It seeks to “reward people for hard work” in a bid to boost productivity and earnings in the UK. 

The new plan details how to address issues in our labour market, such as: 

  • The implications of new forms of work 
  • The rise of digital platforms
  • Impacts of new working models 


The Good Work Plan also draws on recommendations about:

  • Employment status 
  • Agency workers 
  • Increasing transparency in the labour market 
  • The enforcement of employment rights 

Useful Resources 

What changes you should expect to see from The Good Work Plan 

Policy Paper – Good Work Plan 

 

Deferring VAT and Income Tax Payments 

The government have announced that they will support businesses by deferring tax payments, as outlined below. 

Deferred Deadlines: 

  • If you’re self-employed, Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021. 
  • For VAT, the deferral will apply from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020. 

All UK businesses and self-employed individuals are eligible. There is no application required. 

Useful Resources 

Relieve temporary financial distress with HMRC Time to Pay Offer 

A breakdown of the government support available for businesses 

 

Supporting your employees’ financial wellbeing 

Typically, your employee’s largest financial outgoing will be their monthly mortgage payment.  

Taking a break from their mortgage – with a mortgage holiday of up to three months – can act as welcome financial relief. In this unsettling time, if you are having to cut or reduce hours, it may be worth providing some resources for your employees to access this aid. 

Am I Eligible? 

Whether you are eligible to take a payment holiday, for how long, and the conditions you must meet dependon: 

  • Your lender 
  • Your mortgage contract 
  • Your financial circumstance 

It is best to advice that your employee contacts their bank directly to discuss a mortgage payment holiday. However, please do make them aware that this will make their payments go up afterwards. 

What About Those Who Rent? 

The government has announced a package of measures to protect renters that may be affected by Coronavirus and a subsequent loss of earnings. The emergency legislation means: 

  • You cannot be evicted from social or private rented accommodation while this national emergency is taking place 
  • Landlords can take out a mortgage holiday on their Buy to Let mortgage 

Useful Resources 

Pros and Cons of a Mortgage Holiday 

Mortgages and Coronavirus: Information for Consumers by FCA 

Government Press Release – Protection for Renters 

 

General Advice: 

 

Government Advice 

If you are still unsure about how you should be responding to the COVID-19 outbreak, please refer to GOV.UK platform here. It is frequently updated with the latest information and advice. 

For further guidance for employees, employers and businesses, please visit the government website here. 

 

Mental Health 

It is well recognised that isolation and the stress of the outbreak may be triggering for many, leading to a decline in mental health. 

In order to help you address this, we’ve attached some useful resources that help you become aware of your own mental state and some handy tips that may help you look after yourself during this difficult time. 

Discover how you should be looking after your mental health during the Coronavirus outbreak here. 

The mental health charity, MIND, have also released some support and resources to help you during this time. You can access this here. 

 

Working from Home 

If you’ve recently transitioned from office to homethe resources below may help you settle into your new work environment more seamlessly! 

Tips for creating a positive environment to work from are available here.  

Top tips for working from home are also available here. 

We also appreciate that it is especially hard for those who are working from home whilst simultaneously juggling homeschooling. If you’re looking for some advice about working from home with children, you can find some tips here.

 

What Next? 

If you have any concerns or questions about the latest changes in legislation or how they may affect you, please do not hesitate to contact us online or email hello@crossehr.co.uk and we will try our best to point you in the right direction.