We have been working hard to help our clients and other local businesses make sense of the guidance and advice to help them navigate their business and staff through the current pandemic.

Here are a range of resources to help support your business through these challenging times.

We are happy to offer free telephone / email support for any business that would like further guidance and so please contact us on 0844 8797286 or sarah@questconsultingservices.co.uk 

 

Returning to work - Coming out of lockdown

Returning from Furlough

You may require employees to return from furlough at any time and if this is the case then it is recommended that this is put in writing and kept on personnel files for 5 years.

Here is a template letter to notify an employee of their return to work.

Should you find that you wish to place an employee back on furlough after returning, then you can do so and should issue the Notice of Furlough again for the new period of furlough. Please remember that each new period of furlough must be a minimum of 3 weeks for you to claim via HMRC.

Current Guidance for Employers

This is the current guidance issued on 18th May 2020 to view here

NHS Test and Trace

With the introduction of the test and trace service from the NHS, you may find that employees are contacted by tracing agents who may advise them to self isolate for 14 days as it has been shown they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19. Where this is the case then SSP can be paid for upto 2 weeks.

The full guidance can be found here

Assessing the Risks for your Employees

If you are starting to return to work then you must ensure you have made a risk assessment of your business considering Covid-19 and you may also require a method statement to support this. Here are a couple of suggested templates for this (Please note that as these resources are provided free of charge they do not constitute advice and we cannot confirm the suitability of the documents for your business)

Risk Assessment - For Construction

Risk Assessment - For Manufacturing

Risk Assessment - For Office based businesses

Risk Assessment - For Shops / Garden Centres

Method Statement - For Construction

Site Operating Procedures - Published by Construction Leadership Council

Government Guidelines for Secure Working

These are some of the published guidances for different industries to help you prepare for keeping your workers safe.

Construction / Outdoors Work

Factories / Plants and Warehouses

Offices and Contact Centres

Working in other peoples homes

Shops and Branches

Working in vehicles

It is also a requirement that you publish around the workplace awareness posters to encourage Employees to follow guidelines which you can download here:

Stay safe, stay alert

Wash your Hands A4

 

Changes from Wednesday 13th May

These are the updated Government guidelines that have been published following the Prime Ministers statement on 10th May 2020.

Our Plan to Rebuild - Governments Recovery Strategy

Staying Alert and Staying Safe

What you can and can't do

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme & Furloughing Employees

Here is our guide on everything you need to know about the CJRS which outlines the key points to the scheme and the answers to a variety of questions we have been getting asked. Download your copy here

The CJRS was announced in an attempt to help businesses retain staff that they may otherwise have to made redundant or lay off without pay.

The outline of the scheme can be found here

In essence, if your employees were employed and on your payroll where a RTI submission was made on or before 19th March 2020 then you may be able to change their status to being furloughed and claim 80% of their wage costs up to a maximum of £2500 per month under the scheme. 

The first step to ensure you can take advantage of this is to ensure that you either have the contractual right to lay off workers already built into your contract of employment or you have gained the consent of your employees to do this. We are happy to review any existing contractual documents for you to confirm if you are unsure, please just email these to sarah@questconsultingservices.co.uk 

If you do not have the legal right built into your contract then you can gain consent by issuing a variance to your employees current contract which they would sign and return in acceptance. A template for you to use can be downloaded here

Once you have confirmed that you have the legal right or agreement for your employee, then you must serve the employee notice when you want to change their status to furlough and we have drafted a suggested template you can use for this here. You are required to keep this written notice for 5 years.

We have been asked by a number of Companies who initially furloughed staff and paid the 20% to top up their wages if this can be changed to just the 80% as the longer this situation is continuing for, the harder it is for them to fund the difference. We have therefore drafted a notification letter to issue to your staff if this is the case which you can download here

Should you wish for an employee to return to work, here is also a template letter you can use to confrm their return.

The portal for claims is now open and can be accessed here along with the  step by step Guidance for making claims here

 

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme & Furloughing Directors

Here is our guide on everything you need to know about the CJRS which outlines the key points to the scheme and the answers to a variety of questions we have been getting asked. Download your copy here

As a Director you may be eligible to be furloughed as you are permitted to undertake the statutory duties of a Director but nothing more than this. The Treasury Department confirmed on 15th April that these duties do not extend beyond the filing of accounts or other required administration of the Directors Company which are a requirement of an Act of Parliament. This will mean in practice that the same rules apply as all employees - you cannot undertake ANY work on behalf of the Company or related businesses with the exception of these limited legal duties.

If you do wish to take advantage of furlopugh then you do need to record a Resolution from either the Sole Director or Board of Directors and keep this on record and so here are templates you can use for this.

Sole Director Resolution

Board of Directors Resolution

In the same way as furloughing any employee - you must ensure a notice is served to the Director and a template for this can be downloaded here 

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme - Furloughing Ex Employees if requested

Here is our guide on everything you need to know about the CJRS which outlines the key points to the scheme and the answers to a variety of questions we have been getting asked. Download your copy here

If you had an employee that was employed by you and was on your payroll on 28th February but subsequently left your employment on or before 19th March (whether due to redundancy, resignation or dismissal) then they may approach you to request that they are reinstated in order to be furloughed.

This is permitted but this is entirely at your discretion - you are not obliged to accept their request.

If you agree to this request then we have put together an agreement for you to use to ensure that your business is not put at any risk and that at the end of any furlough scheme the employees status would revert back to the reason they left your business.

Download the Furloughing a reinstated employee agreement

Self Isolation and Shielding

There has been confusion over who should be self isolating and for how long and so here are the guidelines.

Download the current guidelines here

Highly Vulnerable on medical grounds

If your employees or members of their household are considered highly vulnerable on medical grounds they will have received confirmation from their GP that they should enter shielding. This is where the household would be in isolation for a 12 week period. You may therefore have employees that are either directly affected or have members of their household who are and so they would be isolating for this perion and SSP would apply. If you have no work for them you may choose to furlough these workers if you have the legal right to do so.

Self Isolation

If you have an employee that has a persistent cough and / or high temperature and / or Anosmia you should send them home if they report for work and they should self isolate for 7 days. Providing the symptoms have not worsened they may return to work after this period or be placed on furlough after the 7 days has passed. They are paid SSP during a period of isolation.

Anosmia is the loss of or a change in your normal sense of smell. It can also affect your sense of taste as the two are closely linked

Household Isolation

If an employee has a member of their household that displays the symptoms of a persistent cough and / or high temperature then they must self isolate for 14 days, this is to allow for any incubation period should they also have been infected. If whilst in this period of isolation, the employee develops symtoms themselves, they must be in isolation for a further 7 days from the day their symptoms first presented but they may return to work after this period if their symptoms have not worsened. Should they develop no symptoms they must remain in isolation for the full 14 days. During this period they will be paid SSP and they may be furloughed upon their return.

 

An isolation note can be obtained by using the online 111 service if required by your employer.

Social Distancing Guidelines

Social distancing measures are steps you can take to reduce social interaction between people. This will help reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19).

They are to:

Avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). These symptoms include high temperature and/or new and continuous cough

Avoid non-essential use of public transport when possible

Work from home, where possible. Your employer should support you to do this where possible. 

Avoid large and small gatherings in public spaces, noting that pubs, restaurants, leisure centres and similar venues are currently shut as infections spread easily in closed spaces where people gather together.

Avoid gatherings with friends and family. Keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media

Use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services

Here is the full guide produced by the Government to help you ensure your workplace is also following these guidelines.

Employees Working From Home

It is recommended, where possible, to allow employees to work from home and so to ensure there is consistency with how you manage this we have put together a policy which is aimed more around a short term change to home working rather than a longer term arrangement. In addition, you remain responsible for your employees safety whilst working from home and so we have provided a risk assessment which an employee can complete themselves and email to you for review.

Emergency Home Working Policy

Working from home Risk Assessment which can be completed by your employee and returned to you for review.

IOSH Guide for Managing Home Working gives some additional safety information to consider whilst you have employees at home.

Quest Guide to protecting Home Workers has been written as an overview to help you consider how to best support the safety and wellbeing of your home workers during this time.

Emergency Leave for the Care of Dependents

Where you may have workers that are having to take time off for the care of their children and are therefore unable to work, but you still have work you could provide them, then they may be utilising the Emeregency Care Policy.

For businesses that may not have this policy in place here is a template policy you can download and use so that you are aware of the requirements of you as an employer and your employee.

Time off under this policy is unpaid, however the policy is aimed at allowing an employee some immediate time to make more permanent arrangements. In the current situation this is perhaps unlikey and so you may want to consider if they cannot work and you cannot provide them with work, whether they would be eligible to be furloughed instead.

Mental Health & Wellbeing

With potentially a large number of employees working from home, this can be an isolating experience and if you couple this with the Country being on lockdown then you may have individuals within your team that are not interacting with anyone or very few people at this time.

We have put together some top tips for those working from home to help maintain contact and a route which you can view here

Back to HR

Testimonials

Dragonfly Grounds Care Ltd

You are all doing a fantastic job guys and I just want to let you all know we would be in a real panic had it not been for the support and advice you have given us so far. I really don't know if we would have been in business at the end of this. But with your exceptional effort I feel much more confident that we can ride this storm and come out the other end. The decision we made as a business to procure your services has paid massive dividends.

Thank you from all at Dragonfly.

Dragonfly Grounds Care Ltd

Northern Accountants

Sarah and the team at Quest have provided us HR support since January 2013.

Quest Consulting Services provided us with a comprehensive employment structure with contacts and a handbook and have been on hand to help me deal with the occasional issue I have faced with team members through their telephone support service.

As our personal Consultant, Sarah provides a quality, professional and complete service which is great value for money.

Northern Accountants

Off Limits Corporate Events

Sarah has transformed our HR and has introduced systems that have taken lots of hassle away from staffing issues within our company.

We have worked with Sarah and her team for 5 years and in this time our business has grown considerably. With telephone support available for all our Managers as they need it plus Sarah and her team proactively keeping us updated on changes in legislation we are reassured that we are in safe hands.

The HR software that Quest implemented also helps us keep on top of the routine aspects of HR such as holiday bookings, recording absence, holding personnel records which then allows Sarah and her team easy access to give us relevant advice.

Our Managers have also benefited from workshops run by Sarah to help develop their skills on handling issues such as disciplinary, appraisals, recruitment etc….

The support of Quest is invaluable and provides a much more cost effective solution than employing a HR Manager in house.

Off Limits Corporate Events

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