When lockdown started, the team at Lawspeed published five tips to help businesses through the crisis – see here. Continuing that process, here are seven more…. Any queries call us on 01273 236236.
Tip 6 – Plan for the new ‘normal’ – consider hours and places of work, layouts and social distancing measures and the steps that may need to be taken to achieve these in the workplace. Guidance is now available on office spaces which may assist with planning and assessing risk, but whether you can simply require alternative working hours or locations may be a matter of contract.
Tip 7 – Plan for the holiday avalanche – employees on furlough will be accruing leave, remote working staff may not have taken any leave, and holiday plans may have been cancelled. Consider if requiring leave to be taken (and paying for this leave at 100%) whilst on furlough, or during the current restrictions works for your business. Remember that any decision needs to be carefully considered, to avoid unnecessary disputes or discrimination issues. Some annual leave can be carried forward, but this may be storing up problems for the future.
Tip 8 – Know where you stand on transfer fee protection – as the transfer fee time limit under the Agency Conduct Regulations may well have passed due to the lockdown and the ability to charge a transfer fee may be lost if your agency worker is rehired direct. This would not apply in respect of opted out contractors. Having a good understanding of the issues around the regulations, and what you can do to safeguard your legitimate interests is critical.
Tip 9 – Protect against back door hires – the period running up to the lockdown may have seen offers withdrawn, interviews cancelled or postponed but if you have introduced a candidate, a subsequent engagement may result in a fee being due. Fees are always subject to the agreed commercial terms, but gently maintaining communications and negotiations may enhance the protection available in your contract, helping to establish that it is your action and introduction that was the cause of a future engagement, so reducing the risk of you being cut out of the loop in the first place.
Tip 10 – Consider objections from employees – whether this be to being furloughed, brought back from furlough, required to take annual leave or to adjustments in working hours or locations. Employers should always carefully consider objections to blanket policies, specifically whether the objection is reasonable and/or justified, whether an objection may suggest a policy could be discriminatory and whether there are reasonable alternative options available.
Tip 11 – Plan for the future – whilst we all hope for a swift recovery, the reality, post furlough, may be redundancy and layoffs. Employers need to be cautious in making redundancies, to avoid typical pitfalls. Always ensure a fair selection process is applied and there is proper consultation. Without these factors, redundancy may result in a costly unfair dismissal or discrimination claim. Consider essential tasks, who may be affected, and the roles that the business may not require moving forwards.
TiP 12 –Consider your priorities. When things return to near normal what emphasis do you place on compliance? By which we mean having processes in place not only to secure business legitimately but also to safeguard against commercial risk. Successful businesses always take a joint approach and we always advocate taking the long term view. The new norm may mean keeping the good bits but dumping some of the old ways. There’s nothing like a refresh – re-familiarise yourself with and critique what you have been doing, prioritise process and lock it in, making sure that the contracts, emails and strategies you use reflect the quality of business you want to achieve.
With plenty of experience as recruitment and employment law specialists, through the good times and the bad, we are ideally placed to help your business. Call us on 01273 236236 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Lawspeed, since 1997.