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Euro Projects Recruitment Business Leaders Zoom Call 29th June Summary - Partial Furloughing

Partial Furlough

Stephen Brown

Euro Projects Recruitment Business Leaders Zoom Call

For Manufacturing, Engineering, Technology, Transportation & Logistics Professionals

Summary of Key Points: 29th June 2020

  • Covid-19 & Business Update
    • Stephen Brown from Euro Projects Recruitment – Welcome to our 15th week of hosting this Zoom Call. Please invite any additional guests you feel would benefit from these calls or put them in touch with me:
    • You can stay in touch with group members, share ideas and ask questions in our dedicated LinkedIn Group for this community:
  • Latest COVID-19 News:
    • Many businesses are looking forward to their customers returning next week and the reduction in the one metre rule will have a massive impact on many industries.
    • Ahead of the most significant easing of lockdown in 3 months, businesses also have the option to start bringing furloughed employees back on a partial furlough basis. This is our main topic today.
    • Travel quarantine rules are being reviewed today, smoke signals are a relaxation of the 14 day rule, and we wait and see.
    • We are still awaiting announcements on further announcements such as a reduction in Employers NI and VAT.
    • A key speech about the recovery will be made by the PM tonight including we are hoping details about:
      • New Job Creation Scheme
      • Support for digital jobs
      • Large building projects
    • Seeing huge polarisation about the economy in the media causing great confusion – Two camps of a positive rebound and a deep recession.
      • David Tomlinson from HSBC kindly invites members of this group to an Economic Update with their Chief Economist, Mark Berrisford-Smith on Wednesday 8th July 8:30 am to 10:30 am:

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  • Sandra Wiggins, Owner of DPI (UK) Ltd. Manufacturer of aluminium framed screens
  • Sandra runs a manufacturing SME – Personally proactive in trying to get the voice of SME manufacturers heard by Government and MP – Deferred debt Is not a pretty picture for this time next year and urges everyone to contact their MP to lobby for more grant aid.
  • DPI has worked all the way through – manufacture retail exhibition and events. Order book fell off face of earth…we pivoted to screens and partitions for offices, factories etc.
  • Running a skeleton team, last 2 weeks we’ve landed our biggest order ever – retail which is nice- scheduled work for 8 weeks. Now staggered team back in.
  • With a mix of furlough vs non furlough you can see resentment – trying to get team ethos back again - also prepare employees that they may not be back in permanently. It’s important to tell them exactly where we are but that they will be back on part time furlough unless things change.
  • Hardest thing getting everyone in right direction and keep staff in good mental space – noticed impact – hard work – although we can’t be overly positive as it gives false hope.
  • Seeing effects on those doing the extra work of furloughed colleagues - someone on sick leave due to stress - resentful that has been flexi time and then back to normal hours - massive impact on business. Feels part time furlough will also cause issues - people like routine - massive issues how to use it to integrate everyone back together   
  • Mental health of senior leaders and those who have remained working expected to be an issue and there are still tough times ahead.
  • Partial Furlough Update  - Helen Dyke from Irwin Mitchell
  • How does partial furloughing work? -  you have flexibility on the extent which you furlough someone (provided they have already been furloughed for at least 3 weeks under old scheme by 30 June). You must get agreement from staff member for this new type of furlough. Provided employee has agreed and is eligible you can either roll them on or off weekly (or longer) or you can split up the contractual working hours so that the employee works part of their contractual hours and they are furloughed for the remainder.
  • Previously you had to furlough someone for 3 weeks before you could claim, how has this changed, what are the new time limits? There is no minimum period which someone can now be furloughed for, provided they meet the eligibility criteria. You can keep someone continuously furloughed, equally you can furlough them for a day.
  • What sort of options are available: Can you bring someone back for say 2 days per week and furlough them the remaining time/Can you have say only mornings or afternoons?/Can you have someone working from home who works sporadically and returns a timesheet of hours worked, with furlough covering not worked hours?/Can you rotate employees from furlough week on week off or longer? Any option is available to the company; for example if staff worked for 5 days per week before furlough, they can work for 2 days and be furloughed for 3. You can then change this as the business need changes, for example increasing the working hours/ days and reducing the furlough hours/days. You can also rotate employees – which companies may want to do to make it fairer for staff – but you cannot have more people on furlough at any one time than which you did under the previous scheme. Therefore, if you had 200 staff and rotated with 100 on and 100 off at any one time under the old furlough scheme the most people you can have at any one time on furlough under the new scheme is 100.
  • Many firms went into lock down and furloughing quite quickly, the recovery and return of some employees is much slower, is there now a potential issue around discrimination claims for who gets returned to work and who remains on furlough? Need to ensure that you use a fair reason for who you select to return and who to stay on furlough (if you can’t divide it equally using the flexible furlough scheme). You shouldn’t make assumptions about staff e.g. that men will be able to return to work but women should stay at home with childcare responsibilities as this would likely be discriminatory. But it may be sensible to keep some categories of staff (which may have protected characteristics) on furlough leave, for example if they are seen as high risk or were categorised as shielding. You need to be able to objectively justify the decisions you have made to rebut any potential claims of discrimination.
  • What makes an eligible employee for partial furloughing? Only people who have been furloughed for three or more weeks on or before 30 June will be eligible to be furloughed under the new flexible scheme. the only exception is where an employee is returning from maternity leave, paternity leave, shared parental leave, adoption leave or parental bereavement leave.
  • Is there an opportunity for a partial job share scheme? informally, yes. If you have two members of staff doing the same role but you don’t currently need both working at the same time, you could agree to part furlough each of them – whether that be one week on one week off, or each does half their contracted hours and furloughed for the remainder. However, both staff members must meet the eligibility criteria.
  • Can we instigate partial furloughing at any point between 1st July and 31st October should say our businesses not recover as well as expected? Yes – subject to the eligibility criteria of the scheme.
  • You need agreement from employee on the terms you are returning them.
  • Tribunal claims up – some very valid claims – some just disgruntled victims of redundancy:
  • Discrimination – if you have furloughed employees with a protected characteristic in a particular group e.g. women – don’t make who you return or not a blanket rule. Similarly if you have employees with a disability who may be shielding or vulnerable. Seek to remain up to date on Government guidance – make sure you apply individual risk assessments – make sure it’s safe for them – you might need to speak to occupational health.
  • Good communication is essential. Reassure in your correspondence. People’s biggest concern is that by remaining on furlough they are more likely to be made redundant – Furlough letters should state that just because being placed on furlough there is not at greater risk of redundancy.
  • Your message from the top of the business needs to be clear and regular communication.
  • Examples of how partial furlough might work include:
    • 2 days per week working and then 3 days furlough is fine, or
    • You could just say “mornings only”
    • Rotation of employees one week on and one week off
    • If there is a potential for a partially furloughed employee to work from home and undertake work sporadically for say tidying up loose ends how this is reported to HMRC is the key question. It would be best to agree the number of hours per day and agree and document it, potentially backed up with a timesheet. If you agree in advance less likely to be audited by HMRC. Keep good records such as timesheets so you can document hours worked versus partial furlough.
  • If you are interested in a chat about Irwin Mitchell’s service, for example, in regard to the furlough letters we discussed, please contact Helen Dyke.
    • Irwin Mitchell offer different flexible options, such as a discounted bank of hours (you buy in advance and the hours can be used for any legal matter, they don’t expire).
  • They have a large number of templates and precedents on a client website that you would have free access to as a benefit of the service, which helps to keep costs down. 
  • You would also have free access to all of our training, which we are delivering by webinar / Microsoft Teams.

Helen Dyke, Senior Associate Solicitor, Irwin Mitchell LLP

DDI: 0121 214 5242

Mobile: 07435966985

  • Assimilation of furloughed staff coming back in Cassandra Andrews, Employee Engagement Coach And Shirley Hawkins Hr Advisor:
  • It’s a tale of two camps – those who have kept the business running under great strain and those who did not choose to be furloughed:
  • Causing cultural issues which may continue after the furlough scheme is long gone.
  • Being on furlough is tough – they are worried about losing their job
  • There is no silver bullet or one size fits all - the way to help merge these two groups will come from communication from the top, make sure your managers are all saying a consistent message and using the right management tools. Ask, are they giving the right message and not their own individual messages:
  • 5 considerations on her website:
  • Level of furlough has led to people feeling ignored – perceived lower value employee and ‘un-loved’.
  • High levels of anxiety and guilt when on furlough – not “been on holiday”
  • Some very key motivational drivers are unable to be met whilst on furlough.