Euro Projects Recruitment Business Leaders Zoom Call
For Manufacturing, Engineering, Technology, Transportation & Logistics Professionals
Summary of Key Points: 22nd June 2020
- Finance & Economy Update
- Stephen Brown from Euro Projects Recruitment – Many companies are remodelling as a result of Covid-19, As we now reach our first full quarter in lockdown and the deadline to place people on a month’s notice of redundancy if termination of employment is to coincide with the end of the fully supported Government Job Retention Scheme, our discussion focus today is redundancies.Government thinking is currently based on the premise that it is better to spend money saving jobs today than dealing with large scale unemployment and are discussing more financial measures:
- Smoke signals from the Government suggest that a further round of economic support measures will be announced this week (Tuesday evening). Things to look out for include:
- Sector specific grant aid
- Reduced business rates
- A drop in VAT
- Reduced employers NI
- Potential for no Employers NI on new recruits to stimulate hiring
- A green jobs stimulus package is also still very much on the cards (last week we mentioned likely support for home boiler replacement, car scrappage and vehicle electrification programmes).
- We have now had a full week of non-essential shops in England being open, Northern Ireland opened up on Friday 19th June, and Wales today and Scotland follows suit on 29th June, although retail sales are still low due to cautious behaviour.
- Track & Trace
- Government track and trace app designed to break multiple chains of Covid transmission is being launched whereby phones will identify proximity:
- If you are with an infected person within 2 metres for 15 minutes, or within 1 metre for 1 minute, or if coughed on, or skin to skin contact, you will need to isolate for 14 days.
- Question here around employers receiving proof if employee is asymptomatic for isolation period. Screen shot from App or App may provide a receipt.
- £95/day SSP paid during this period, or employee can take holiday entitlement but cannot be made to. Can work from home if able to, or if previously furloughed, placed on the Government Job Retention Scheme.
- Employers being urged to be careful about what health data they maintain on employees, is it proportionate and is it securely held? – Suggestion to do an impact/risk assessment on data held and how securely it is held.
- Employers are justified to keep records for 5 or 6 years for audit – Make sure your data protection policy includes an information retention policy.
- Evidence finding social areas are the worse for infection clusters, walking to work, canteens, smoking areas, kitchens – People having a tendency to revert to being ‘Non-Covid Secure’ when it isn’t imposed. This includes commuting, SB observes a large number of Amazon employees near Euro Projects who are walking in tight formation together. Remove high touch activities in social areas such as pool tables.
- Helen Dyke from Irwin Mitchell Social areas should be factored into business risk assessment, including an employee’s commute - your responsibility is extended.
- Potential grounds for misconduct if you have evidence of employees socialising and not distancing, e.g. pictures on social media at a BBQ etc.
- Post-Travel Quarantine - Helen Dyke from Irwin Mitchell
- Post-travel quarantine rules – we are unsure how long this rule will be in place. Currently you must remain at home for 14 days after arrival back in UK. If staff take an overseas trip for personal travel or holiday they have to keep quarantine rules and employers must respect this, although can ask staff to continue working from home – otherwise take additional holiday or unpaid leave, or if qualifying re-furloughed – employers should start thinking about it and communicate your policy to all staff.
- Furlough Update - Helen Dyke from Irwin Mitchell
- Issues of fraud around the Government Job Retention Scheme being reported quite widely from HMRC. 34% of surveyed furloughed employees have been asked to work and have breached non work rules. There is a Fraud hotline. HMRC have allowed businesses to confess without reprisal within 30 days of a claim being made.
- Reminder with flex furlough scheme – important to not become complacent – don’t ask employees to work if furloughed.
- Redundancy – Re-deployment – Retraining
- David Tomlinson from HSBC: David has his finger on the financial pulse of business, with people discussing their financial plans with him and was asked how prevalent redundancies are being factored into financial plans:
- 70% are considering redundancies and 35-40% have already begun the process.
- These are widespread across all industries – no trend sector wise. A lot of businesses are hanging on until part time furloughing starts
- Around half of businesses have said some redundancies.
- These are predominantly if not exclusively based on the impact of Covid-19 and do not factor in the potential cliff edge of Brexit.
- HSBC Invites you to an Economic Update with their Chief Economist, Mark Berrisford-Smith:
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- Frank Buckley – CEO of ID Systems – High end aluminium frame glazing manufacturers
- ID systems is predominantly in the retail busies. Normally to end user, architects or builders.
- Early in pandemic they kept sales staff but otherwise shut down completely. Now we are gauging what’s really happening in the market. Fear that pipeline is just a delay on projects already started. Concerns for later in year that there will be a further slow-down. Demand down to 50% of what we would expect.
- Resource planning wise – we furloughed most. Brought back some – Which has created challenges
- As much as we want multi-skilled – we are not as multi skilled as we want to be or though we were.
- People taking on additional duties – challenge for employees. Still have some on furlough – uneasiness and worry among that cohort.
- Try to give updates regularly. Certain parts of business are undertaking a critical review.
- Selective redundancies at this stage. Once know where market is there might be more.
- Most secure roles across most businesses are those who can wear a multiple of hats.
- Nick Peach – HR Manager from Euro Projects HR Services
- In some cases it is a selective process – described by one client as “dead heading”, however in some cases this isn’t enough and it is more like having to take a mower to the whole flower bed.
- In one case 130 headcount reduction requiring collective consultation of a non-unionised workforce. Which predominantly doesn’t have English as its first language.
- Helen Dyke from Irwin Mitchell - If you are making 20 or more employees redundant, you will need to complete Form HR1, it is a criminal offence not to, so recommended you take legal advice to be sure you have followed correct process.
- Stephen Brown in discussion with Lisa Jones from HR Protocol about Voluntary Redundancies (VR)
- Lisa is working with some clients to identify volunteers for redundancy. This is typically on an enhanced package. As conversations with Stephen’s Aero Engineer neighbour support, many employees are not enthusiastic about being the ones left behind in a post-Covid work environment with fewer colleagues and reduced budgets. Many employees are favourably considering an enhanced VR package fearing it may be replaced by a statutory minimum award at a later date
- Outplacement Services, Shirley Hawkins from Shirley HR - Where businesses know they need to lose people, they could consider offering an outplacement consultant during the VR period – bringing Shirley in by her clients has been seen to be fair and doing it in a nice way. It can also be a good idea to offer employees a professional and external sounding board. This also allows the company to communicate its message without employees creating their own discussion groups and their own version of the truth.
- If you have missed previous calls or want to refresh previous topics, you can read summary notes like this on our blog: https://www.europrojects.co.uk/blog