Summary of advice for continuing common HR practices

Updated 3 June 2020

How should HR and staff management matters carry on during lock down and the restrictions created by the Coronavirus pandemic?

We imagine that your business (like ours) is operating in a new version of ‘normal’ under the current lockdown measures in place until 7 May. The most recent weeks have been a flurry of updates from the Government and no doubt a difficult time making decisions vital to the survival of your business and the welfare of your staff.

In response to the needs of employers at this time we created a special support package to cover the essential HR advice they needed, which includes up to 2 hours of advice with a consultant, furlough letters and a review of your existing employment contracts.

What happens now?

The new HMRC Portal is now live and employers can now claim for grants from the Job Retention Scheme to pay their furloughed workers. We’ll next have an update from the Government on 7 May as to whether lockdown measures will remain in place as they are.

This means we’re now in a state of ‘normal’ working in this new environment. The common concerns we are now hearing from employers is about how normal HR practices can (and should) continue, and most importantly how they remain compliant with employment law.

Our HR Consultants give clarity on the common practices that employers still need to carry out during the coronavirus pandemic.

1. Can performance reviews still take place?

Absolutely, and we encourage you to continue with your normal review and appraisal processes as you would prior to this situation. Video technology is perfect for this as face-to-face engagement is so important to these types of conversations.

Do make sure that you find a suitable time where both the appraiser and appraisee can give their full attention in quiet surroundings.

Make sure that feedback and new objectives are properly documented and agreed by both of you. Online HR software is ideal in this situation, as you can save the review documents securely in the system, both access the documents at any time, and record acceptance or read status.

2. Can disciplinaries investigations/hearings still be undertaken?

You can continue to follow your normal disciplinary procedure if an issue has taken place. The key thing here is to follow the process and document along the way. Technology can be your friend here, for example you can record video meetings (with the employees’ permission).

If you have any questions or would like your disciplinary process reviewed, give us a call on 01722 325833.

3. If a staff member is on furlough, can I ask them to complete any admin tasks or something not related to their role?

If an employee has been placed on furlough then you cannot ask your employee to do any work that makes money or provides services for your organisation or any organisation linked or associated with your organisation, which would mean admin for another team or department would not be permitted. You can ask them to undertake training whilst furloughed.

4. What else can I be doing during this time?

We encourage employers to use this down time to allow their employees to get up to date with any admin related to their role that often gets pushed aside. Think about any training requirements or CPD that your staff need to keep up to date.

Also encourage your teams to keep in touch. Some of your team may be feeling particularly isolated so setting up an informal video call once a week might help boost team morale and keep everyone connected.

5. Can I bring my employees back from furlough to carry out work or a one-off project and then re-furlough?

Yes, if the employee has been furloughed for the minimum 3-week period. If then re-furloughed this again must be for the minimum period of 3 weeks.

6. Can employees take annual leave whilst on furlough?

Yes, they must receive their usual contracted pay in full for any holiday they take.

7. As an employer can I impose annual leave onto employees during furlough?

Yes, but it is very important to ensure there is a contractual clause to enable employers to do this. If there are no clauses employers could ask for volunteers. Again, they must receive their usual contracted pay in full for any holiday they take.

8. Can a member of staff still receive sick pay if it’s not coronavirus related?

If an employee needs to take sick leave for any absence, then they can. If the sickness is not coronavirus related, then your usual sick pay rules will apply.

9. Can employees undertake volunteering role?

Yes, but not for their own organisations.

In case you missed it...

We recently held a free webinar for employers looking at how employers can manage matters including furloughing, homeworking, employee relations issues (discipline, grievances), managing performance, recruitment and redundancy situations.

If you missed it, you can view a recording of the webinar here.

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