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Flexible working in the digital era webinar

We are holding our July webinar on Friday 24th July at 12:30 on the topic of Flexible working in the digital era.

This will cover:

  • How to manage remote employees
  • Flexible working requests
  • How to use Zoom
  • Legal & Safety obligations

We will close with a Q&A session followed by an exclusive after party for all our HR retained clients.

If you’d like to join us please sign up here.

Could we also add the contact details for the payroll clients please: “If you need any HR support please contact us on: or 01522 815100”

Flexible working in the digital era webinar

We are holding our July webinar on Friday 24th July at 12:30 on the topic of Flexible working in the digital era.

This will cover:

  • How to manage remote employees
  • Flexible working requests
  • How to use Zoom
  • Legal & Safety obligations

We will close with a Q&A session followed by an exclusive after party for all YOU; our HR retained clients.

If you’d like to join us please sign up here:

How to make your Workplace COVID-secure

Whilst it’s positive news that workplaces are beginning to reopen, there are steps which all businesses have to take to ensure the safety for their employees. You’ll need to comply with the guidance issued by the government: Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19)

Physical distancing is important, as is practicing good hygiene including frequent hand-washing and sanitising hands regularly. There may be the possibility that masks will become compulsory in the future so ensuring you undertake your risk assessments, share them with employees and regularly review them will be crucial. It is expected by the government that businesses with over 50 employees will publish their risk assessments on their websites.

What next?

The guidance is still that people should continue to work from home where possible which could pose issues when bringing employees back from furlough is concerned – we recommend taking a risk approach to minimise the risk of discrimination claims and ensuring employee concerns are listened to and addressed. It may be that you can consider employees being flexibly furloughed, working alternative hours or a different shift pattern. Some employees may also consider a reduction in their hours if the other alternatives aren’t possible and they aren’t eligible for furlough. They key is communicating regularly with employees, not making assumptions, and keeping good notes on steps you have taken to support employees throughout the pandemic.

Government measures – Jobs Plan

The Chancellor presented his “Plan for Jobs” this week, providing a number of financially supportive measures, designed to kick-start the economy.  We have published a separate blog on this point on our website here.

Job retention bonus

There will be a new one-off payment of £1,000 to UK employers for every furloughed employee who remains continuously employed until at least 31 January 2021. Employees must earn above £520 per month on average between 1 November 2020 and 31 January 2021. Payments will be made from February 2021 and further details about the bonus will be announced by the end of July 2020.

New apprenticeships

From 1 August 2020 to 31 January 2021, employers in England will receive a payment of £2,000 for each new apprentice they hire aged under 25, and £1,500 for each new apprentice they hire aged 25 and over. These payments will be in addition to the existing £1,000 payment that the government already provides for new 16-18-year-old apprentices.

Case in focus

Ms S Jallow v QBE Management Services (UK) Ltd

An employee who rushed back to work after her boss said that she had “taken too many antenatal appointments” has been awarded £4,000 by a London employment tribunal.

What happened?

Ms Jallow began working for QBE Management Services as an IT Financial Analyst in January 2015.  She had her first child in 2017 and returned from maternity leave in January 2018, therefore she received satisfactory performance ratings that year.  In October 2018 she had a miscarriage which her employer knew about and began suffering with depression, stress and anxiety which she was prescribed anti-depressants for, although she did not report this to her employer.  A few months later, in March 2019, she notified her manager that she was pregnant again and had an antenatal appointment on the 21st of March.

The incident in question

On the morning of her antenatal appointment, the hospital was running about an hour late and Ms Jallow phoned her manager to advise him of the delay.  Apparently, during that phone call, Ms Jallow’s manager said that she had taken too many sick days and antenatal appointments and this was affecting her output, as well as letting her team down. Because of his comments, Ms Jallow rushed back to work and missed her antenatal appointment.

Ms Jallow subsequently brought a tribunal claim for pregnancy-related discrimination in which she also alleged that her manager had made similar comments about her antenatal appointment attendance record in a meeting about her pregnancy in March 2019.

The award

In his evidence to the tribunal, her manager stated that he could not recall making any comments about her antenatal appointments.  The tribunal preferred the evidence from the claimant and awarded in her favour.  She was awarded £4,000 for injury to feelings.

Takeaway  points

  • From day one of employment a woman has a right to “reasonable” paid time off for antenatal care appointments advised by a registered medical professional.
  • Employees can be asked to schedule appointments outside of normal working hours, if they work part-time, for example.
  • If a pregnant employee works a night-shift, you need to give consideration to this and being able to get sufficient rest before an appointment.

You are able to request proof of the appointments with the exception of the first appointment the employee attends.

Ask the Experts

How do we deal with childcare issues?

The safest approach is to manage these situations through risk – having childcare difficulties is a reality for many working parents as childcare facilities struggle to cope with the current measures and reduced operating capacity in place.  In situations where childcare is posing an issue to returning to work, we recommend keeping the employee on furlough for as long as possible.

If the primary carer is a female, forcing her to return could constitute indirect sex discrimination (women are more like than men to care for children, so it’s harder for her to return).  If you have a legitimate business interest for requiring her back and there was no alternative but to require her to return, a tribunal might think the request was a reasonable one and that you acted proportionately.  There are as yet, no test cases of this type in the employment tribunals.

If you haven’t already, you may look to reduce furlough to the minimum level possible (80%) for employees in this situation.  They could also use unpaid parental leave, which is a statutory right, and is capped at 4 weeks per year to a maximum of 18 weeks before the child turns 18.  You could also allow some annual leave or unpaid leave to be taken.  It is advisable to keep reviewing the situation and ensuring the employee feels able to return at the right time.

Can I make a pregnant part-timer redundant?

A dismissal will automatically be unfair (from day one of employment) if the only motive for dismissing is because of the pregnancy.  You must show there is a genuine redundancy situation and follow a fair procedure by treating everyone equally who performs that role.

The risks in doing this are indirect discrimination (as women are less likely to be able to take on full-time work than men because of caring responsibilities).  Part-time workers cannot be treated any less favourably because they are part-time workers, again, there has to be a genuine redundancy situation with a legitimate business aim.  You should explore all the alternatives before progressing down this route, and be able to prove there was no alternative to your proposal.

Consultation is important with the affected employees – entering into genuine discussions about how the aim can be achieved through other methods (where possible).

COVID-19 Our advice for recovering & rebuilding

Over the last few weeks we’ve been working hard to help clients secure their businesses and ensure they have sufficient cash flow to survive to the end of June. Whilst some of this work will continue with some clients in acute financial distress we are now starting to think about how we help clients recover and rebuild.

These pages are designed to provide some advice in this respect so please read our thoughts… coming soon.