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The Latest news from Dumfries and Galloway Chamber of Commerce -

Keep up to date with the latest news and stories from across Dumfries & Galloway.

 

Managing Holiday Entitlement During Coronavirus

ANOOP SODHI, HR Employment Relations Advisor works with DGChamber Protect provider - Quest Consulting, she's been advising the things you need to consider when it comes to managing holiday entitlement during coronavirus.

 

Since the introduction of Furlough back in March 2020, employers are now contemplating how to manage holiday entitlement. Though furlough is a temporary measure of leave from work, all employees will continue to accrue annual leave. Employers should check contracts of employment to see what holiday entitlements are, the statutory minimum entitlement is 5.6 weeks days. Government guidelines state staff can take annual leave during furlough.

ANNUAL LEAVE
As staff are at home keeping safe, can employers insist employees take annual leave? The government has introduced a temporary new law which allows staff to carry over a maximum of 4 weeks holidays over the next 2 years.

The government guidelines suggest that the 4 weeks roll over is applicable to employees who have been self – isolating or have been unwell due to Covid-19 crisis. Most importantly it is designed for those key workers who are unable to take time off due to work commitments.

Employers can manage holidays and request staff to take their leave, however they must be reasonable in this. Employers should enter into discussions with staff about why holidays need to be taken. Employers may also insist staff take their bank holidays during furlough.

THE WORKING TIME REGULATION 1998
Under reg 15 of the Working Time Regulation 1998, the employer does have the discretion to nominate dates on which some or all of the statutory annual holidays should be taken by giving twice as much notice, i.e. if the employer wants an employee to take 1 week holiday, the employee must be given 2 weeks notice.

For those who have already pre-booked holidays, the employer may insist that the employee continue to take them and not cancel the days.

It is important to note that any annual leave taken must be paid at 100%. Employers can use furlough payment (80%) but it must be topped up to equate to 100%.

If the full holiday entitlement has not been taken at the end of the holiday year, employers should discuss with their staff the roll over process and how it will be managed over the next following 2 years.

This is a very stressful time for all, it is wise for both parties, employer and employees to be flexible and to come to an amicable agreement.

Managing holidays during the current crisis is complicated and riddled with risk; we recommend you contact the advice line for further guidance with your DGChamber User ID. 

 

If you have forgotten this contact the DGChamber office on 07496 781 842.

Employees: Returning to Work

If you've been furloughed your employer may soon ask you to return to work.

Here we have answers to some of your questions...

 

question_and_answer.jpg

CAN MY EMPLOYER FORCE ME TO RETURN TO WORK?

Yes, they can. As an employee, you are governed by the contract of employment, and this will usually stipulate your usual place of work where you are required to work. Furthermore, an employer can issue a reasonable instruction to an employee, and the employee is obliged to carry out such reasonable instructions. Failure to return to work under these circumstances can be interpreted as a breach of contract by the employee and an act of misconduct. These could lead to disciplinary action with dismissal as a possible sanction.

Even if the job activities can be performed at home, an employer is not required to agree to home working. However, the employer is under a statutory duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (and various regulations made under it) to ensure that they provide a safe working environment and a safe system of work. To comply with these duties, the employer would be expected to adhere to advice issued by the government and Public Health England. The current social distancing and isolation advice is to stay at home, not to go into work unless the job can be carried out from home. Even if the job can be carried out from home, the employer can still require you to attend work, provided it is safe to do so.

WHAT IS THE EMPLOYER EXPECTED TO DO?

An employer should carry out a risk assessment to identify all the potential risks that employees could be exposed to when they return to work. This of course should include COVID-19. The employer should identify who is/could be at risk, how many could be at risk, how they could be affected, classify the risks as low/medium/high, and finally, identify control measures put in place to minimise the impact of these risks. Elimination of the risk is clearly not viable; thus, steps must be taken to reduce the possibility and impact of infection. Employers should consider whether working from home is possible. If not, will they be safe at work? Introduce a rota for working from the office,  introducing staggered start times, staggered shifts – minimise contact and the number of people in the office, setting up rigorous social distancing policies in the office (with nominated people responsible for monitoring and enforcing it), set up strict hygiene policies – provision of hand sanitizers at the main entrance to the premises, and generally everywhere on site, rigorous cleaning of door handles (especially to the doors leading to the toilet) and work surfaces and adequate ventilation. They could also check temperature on each employee on entering/leaving the premises. Where relevant, the employer must supply personal protective equipment.

Employers’ should be reasonably certain that having taken adequate safety measures, nothing more can be done to protect the safety of staff before allowing them in. If safety is in doubt, the employees should be kept away from work until such time when safety can be maintained. Unions are quite rightly very vociferous about their members safety, and they should b involved in any consultations and disputes.

Once the employer has followed PHE/Govt advice, and implemented safety steps into the workplace, it becomes very difficult for an employee to refuse to go into work.

WHAT IF AN EMPLOYEE HAS SAFETY CONCERNS ABOUT RETURNING TO WORK?

Staff should be informed and reassured that all appropriate advice has been taken, and steps taken in line with current guidelines and practices. If a risk assessment was carried out and control measures put into place, the employee should not have any legitimate concerns. But if they do, they should raise them with the employer.

In extreme cases, employees may feel very strongly that their safety is being prejudiced at work and so refuse to come into work. Willfully refusing to come into work is a very serious matter, and should not be taken lightly, as the consequences can be very serious. At the same time, employers should not rush into taking drastic disciplinary action. Instead liaise with the employee, and others at large, to see what the common concerns are, and what can be done to allay those fears. Employers should be mindful that any disciplinary or detrimental action against an employee due to or is influenced by a health and safety concern, could potentially be automatically unfair. This delicate situation must be handled very sensitively.

Flexible Furloughing

Details have now been announced around the flexible furlough scheme. 

 

Rishi Sunak

 

From 1 July, employers can bring employees that have previously been furloughed back to work for any amount of time and any shift pattern (subject to normal employment law provisions), while still being able to claim CJRS grant for their normal hours not worked.

The scheme will close to new entrants from 30 June. From this point onwards, employers will only be able to furlough employees that they have furloughed for a full 3 week period prior to 30 June.  This means that the final date by which an employer can furlough an employee for the first time will be 10 JuneEmployers will have until 31 July to make any claims in respect of the period to 30 June.

Wage and on-cost contributions are as follows:

  •         June and July: The government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 as well as employer National Insurance (ER NICS) and pension contributions. Employers are not required to pay anything (for normal hours not worked).
  •         August: The government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions.
  •         September: The government will pay 70% of wages up to a cap of £2,187.50. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and 10% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500.
  •         October: The government will pay 60% of wages up to a cap of £1,875. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and 20% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500.

Further details are available at the usual link - Job Retention Scheme - Employer Guidance.

Job Retention Scheme Changes Announced and Self Employment Income Support Extended

• Rishi Sunak announces Self-Employment Income Support Scheme will be extended - with those eligible able to claim a second and final grant capped at £6,570.

• Chancellor also outlines further details on the extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme; including improved flexibility to bring furloughed employees back part time in July and a new taper requiring employers to contribute modestly to furloughed salaries from August.

• Both schemes are UK wide.

 

Rishi Sunak

The government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme will be extended, giving more security to individuals whose livelihoods are adversely affected by coronavirus in the coming months, the Chancellor announced today (Friday 29 May 2020).

Those eligible under the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), which has so far seen 2.3 million claims worth £6.8 billion will be able to claim a second and final grant in August. The grant will be worth 70 per cent of their average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering three months’ worth of profits, and capped at £6,570 in total.

The Chancellor also set out more details on how the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) will continue to support jobs and business as people return to work, following the announcement of an extension of the scheme on 12 May.

So far, the CJRS has helped 1 million employers across the UK furlough 8.4 million jobs, protecting people’s livelihoods.

From 1 July 2020, businesses will be given the flexibility to bring furloughed employees back part time. This is a month earlier than previously announced to help support people back to work. Individual firms will decide the hours and shift patterns their employees will work on their return, so that they can decide on the best approach for them - and will be responsible for paying their wages while in work.

From August 2020, the level of government grant provided through the job retention scheme will be slowly tapered to reflect that people will be returning to work. That means that for June and July the Government will continue to pay 80% of people’s salaries. In the following months, businesses will be asked to contribute a modest share, but crucially individuals will continue to receive that 80% of salary covering the time they are unable to work.

The scheme updates mean that the following will apply for the period people are furloughed:

  • • June and July: The government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 as well as employer National Insurance (ER NICS) and pension contributions. Employers are not required to pay anything.
  • • August: The government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions – for the average claim, this represents 5% of the gross employment costs the employer would have incurred had the employee not been furloughed.
  • • September: The government will pay 70% of wages up to a cap of £2,190. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and 10% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500. For the average claim, this represents 14% of the gross employment costs the employer would have incurred had the employee not been furloughed.
  • • October: The government will pay 60% of wages up to a cap of £1,875. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and 20% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500. For the average claim, this represents 23% of the gross employment costs the employer would have incurred had the employee not been furloughed.

 

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “Our top priority has always been to support people, protect jobs and businesses through this crisis. The furlough and self-employment schemes have been a lifeline for millions of people and businesses. “We stood behind Britain’s businesses and workers as we came into this crisis and we stand behind them as we come through the other side. “Now, as we begin to re-open our country and kickstart our economy, these schemes will adjust to ensure those who are able to work can do so, while remaining amongst the most generous in the world.” Employers will be required to submit data on the usual hours an employee would be expected to work in a claim period and actual hours worked. Employees who believe they are not getting their 80% share can also report any concerns to the HMRC fraud hotline. HMRC will not hesitate to take action against those found to be abusing the scheme.

 

 

Liz-Cameron-OBE-SSC-320x214

Responding to the UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak MPs’ announcement detailing changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, Dr Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce said:

 

Businesses are mindful that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has cost billions and the pot of money to support employers and the economy is not unlimited. This has been a lifeline for the majority of Scottish businesses preventing a mass tsunami of people losing their jobs. 

 

“The big challenge for Scottish businesses is that the UK government’s new tapered approach to the furlough scheme is not aligned with the Scottish Government’s roadmap out of lockdown. This misalignment will affect crucial areas of the economy such as tourism which are forced to close for longer.

 

Before tapering hits, we need to ensure all sectors of our economy are able to generate trade so they are able to pay employees. Currently there is still a lack of clarity for businesses in Scotland over when they can re-open. We urge the chancellor to adopt measures to ensure that businesses facing ruin as the furlough scheme tapers aren’t forced to fall at the last hurdle.’’

 

• Rishi Sunak announces Self-Employment Income Support Scheme will be extended - with those eligible able to claim a second and final grant capped at £6,570. • Chancellor also outlines further details on the extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme; including improved flexibility to bring furloughed employees back part time in July and a new taper requiring employers to contribute modestly to furloughed salaries from August. • Both schemes are UK wide. The government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme will be extended, giving more security to individuals whose livelihoods are adversely affected by coronavirus in the coming months, the Chancellor announced today (Friday 29 May 2020). Those eligible under the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), which has so far seen 2.3 million claims worth £6.8 billion will be able to claim a second and final grant in August. The grant will be worth 70 per cent of their average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering three months’ worth of profits, and capped at £6,570 in total. The Chancellor also set out more details on how the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) will continue to support jobs and business as people return to work, following the announcement of an extension of the scheme on 12 May. So far, the CJRS has helped 1 million employers across the UK furlough 8.4 million jobs, protecting people’s livelihoods. From 1 July 2020, businesses will be given the flexibility to bring furloughed employees back part time. This is a month earlier than previously announced to help support people back to work. Individual firms will decide the hours and shift patterns their employees will work on their return, so that they can decide on the best approach for them - and will be responsible for paying their wages while in work. From August 2020, the level of government grant provided through the job retention scheme will be slowly tapered to reflect that people will be returning to work. That means that for June and July the Government will continue to pay 80% of people’s salaries. In the following months, businesses will be asked to contribute a modest share, but crucially individuals will continue to receive that 80% of salary covering the time they are unable to work. The scheme updates mean that the following will apply for the period people are furloughed: • June and July: The government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 as well as employer National Insurance (ER NICS) and pension contributions. Employers are not required to pay anything. • August: The government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions – for the average claim, this represents 5% of the gross employment costs the employer would have incurred had the employee not been furloughed. • September: The government will pay 70% of wages up to a cap of £2,190. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and 10% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500. For the average claim, this represents 14% of the gross employment costs the employer would have incurred had the employee not been furloughed. • October: The government will pay 60% of wages up to a cap of £1,875. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and 20% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500. For the average claim, this represents 23% of the gross employment costs the employer would have incurred had the employee not been furloughed. Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “Our top priority has always been to support people, protect jobs and businesses through this crisis. The furlough and self-employment schemes have been a lifeline for millions of people and businesses. “We stood behind Britain’s businesses and workers as we came into this crisis and we stand behind them as we come through the other side. “Now, as we begin to re-open our country and kickstart our economy, these schemes will adjust to ensure those who are able to work can do so, while remaining amongst the most generous in the world.” Employers will be required to submit data on the usual hours an employee would be expected to work in a claim period and actual hours worked. Employees who believe they are not getting their 80% share can also report any concerns to the HMRC fraud hotline. HMRC will not hesitate to take action against those found to be abusing the scheme.

MSP Harper Welcomes Additional Quota for Inshore Fishing

Up to £2 million of potential new opportunities to help fleet. 

 

Inshore fishers who usually target shellfish will now be able to diversify into new markets and access fishing opportunities worth up to £2 million.

 

The package aimed at helping the industry during the coronavirus (COVID-19), means that Scottish vessels will be able to access additional fish quotas around the North Sea and west coast of Scotland. 

 

Scotland’s seafood fishing sector has been one of the hardest hit due to the collapse of the international shellfish market, causing significant challenges for families, businesses and local communities in some of the most remote rural and island communities.

 

This additional quota will help many of those fishers and includes:

 

  • an additional 800 tonnes of mackerel - 500 tonnes in the North Sea and 300 tonnes in the west coast
  • additional demersal quotas including haddock, anglerfish, whiting, pollack, saithe, ling, lemon sole and skates and rays for the North Sea and west of Scotland.

 

Fisheries Secretary Fergus Ewing said:

“Fishing in our inshore waters for shellfish is a longstanding and lucrative part of our wider fishing industry but the loss of markets practically overnight due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in many businesses tieing up their vessels.

 

“With continued uncertainty regarding future market access and demand, this additional £2 million of potential fishing opportunities will provide scope for some vessels to diversify and help families and businesses in our coastal communities. It also has the potential to ensure that more people in the UK get to enjoy locally and sustainably caught fish from our waters and I hope retailers will play their part in making that happen.

 

“This support is in addition to the £22.5 million that has already been made available by the Scottish Government to the seafood industry, and which was already the largest support package in the UK.”

 

emma harper

Emma Harper, South Scotland MSP said:

“This is good news for the Scottish fishing industry and demonstrates the value placed on the industry across Scotland as well as our local fishing businesses here in Dumfries & Galloway.

 

“I’ve met with many local stakeholders since my election and kept in touch with them since the COVID-19 lockdown also. I know that they have experienced even more challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic on top of the continued uncertainty around Brexit - so I welcome the announcement of the news of an increase in fishing quotas.”

Up to £2 million of potential new opportunities to help fleet. 

Inshore fishers who usually target shellfish will now be able to diversify into new markets and access fishing opportunities worth up to £2 million.

The package aimed at helping the industry during the coronavirus (COVID-19), means that Scottish vessels will be able to access additional fish quotas around the North Sea and west coast of Scotland. 

Scotland’s seafood fishing sector has been one of the hardest hit due to the collapse of the international shellfish market, causing significant challenges for families, businesses and local communities in some of the most remote rural and island communities.

This additional quota will help many of those fishers and includes:

  • an additional 800 tonnes of mackerel - 500 tonnes in the North Sea and 300 tonnes in the west coast
  • additional demersal quotas including haddock, anglerfish, whiting, pollack, saithe, ling, lemon sole and skates and rays for the North Sea and west of Scotland

Fisheries Secretary Fergus Ewing said:

“Fishing in our inshore waters for shellfish is a longstanding and lucrative part of our wider fishing industry but the loss of markets practically overnight due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in many businesses tieing up their vessels.

“With continued uncertainty regarding future market access and demand, this additional £2 million of potential fishing opportunities will provide scope for some vessels to diversify and help families and businesses in our coastal communities. It also has the potential to ensure that more people in the UK get to enjoy locally and sustainably caught fish from our waters and I hope retailers will play their part in making that happen.

“This support is in addition to the £22.5 million that has already been made available by the Scottish Government to the seafood industry, and which was already the largest support package in the UK.”

Emma Harper, South Scotland MSP said:

“This is good news for the Scottish fishing industry and demonstrates the value placed on the industry across Scotland as well as our local fishing businesses here in Dumfries & Galloway.

“I’ve met with many local stakeholders since my election and kept in touch with them since the COVID-19 lockdown also. I know that they have experienced even more challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic on top of the continued uncertainty around Brexit - so I welcome the announcement of the news of an increase in fishing quotas.”