Happy New Year from 121 HR Solutions!
121 HR Solutions would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year and all the very best for 2021!
Brexit and recruitment – what now?
With the news that trade deals are agreed, employers will have to turn their minds to considering the effect of Brexit on recruitment. The main impact of Brexit in employment law is in the recruitment process as immigration laws change. Employers are already under an obligation to take steps to ensure a worker’s right to work in the UK and this process is now altered in light of Brexit.
From 1 January 2021 free movement, will end. This means that EU/EEA/Swiss citizens arriving in the UK must gain permission to work in the UK. Employers are under a legal duty to prevent illegal working and can be subjected to a fine of up to £20,000 where they fail to do this.
EU citizens who are currently working in the UK should already have permission to remain via the Settlement Scheme. This applies unless they have already been granted indefinite leave to remain (ILR) or are from Ireland. Applications for the EU Settlement Scheme will close on 30 June 2021. Anyone arriving from 1 January 2021 onwards is not eligible to apply.
Employers will want to ensure that their employees have secured permission to remain in the UK but Government guidance on the Scheme states that it is the responsibility of the individual to have made the application. There is no requirement for the individual to inform their employer that they have applied or the outcome of their application.
Going forward, employers must check the right to work of all job applicants. Government guidance states that those checks will continue under existing rules until 30 June 2021, ie there is no change to right to work checks until then. Currently, job applicants can prove the right to work with any of the following:
· their valid passport or national identity card if they’re an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen
· their valid biometric residence card if they’re a non-EU, EEA or Swiss citizen family member
· their status under the EU Settlement Scheme using the Home Office’s online right to work checking service.
While job applicants can use their status under the EU Settlement Scheme as evidence, employers cannot require them to produce this. However if the employee is willing, they can provide a share code to check their status online. If an EU citizen produces their valid passport, then this is sufficient evidence of their right to work until 30 June 2021. There is no obligation to provide their status under the Settlement Scheme. Requiring this is likely to constitute discrimination. Employers cannot make an offer of employment, or continued employment, dependent on an individual having made an application. This leaves employers in a difficulty in finding out if an applicant has arrived in the UK before or after 1 January 2021 – and guidance relating to this is still awaited.
Pay and working conditions must improve post Brexit
Employers in sectors such as retail and hospitality will be forced to improve pay and working conditions if they are to attract enough talent to make up for the shortfall in European labour once new immigration rules come into force, a report has said.
A report from the Resolution Foundation said sectors heavily reliant on migrant labour tended to be lower paid and less compliant with labour rules, warning that these employers would have to do more to “entice” new workers post Brexit.
The think tank said one in seven workers in the “migrant dense” hospitality sector reported not receiving any holiday pay, while a similar number had never been given a payslip – both of which are legal rights in the UK
The report also warned that, instead of improving conditions to attract workers, labour shortages could encourage businesses to circumvent the new migration rules and hire irregular migrant workers at the detriment of working conditions.
Because labour enforcement bodies are far more reliant on workers coming forward with complaints than immigration regulators, there needed to be pathways for irregular migrants to report labour violations without fear of retribution for breaching immigration rules, the report said.
It is not only ‘pay’ or ‘good conditions’ in isolation that improve retention, but a combination of practices and conditions including senior management support, line manager development, a culture of learning and support, performance management, annual appraisals, pay and reward structures and clear communication that made a difference to the retention of staff..
According to the report, migrant workers accounted for 60% of net employment growth between 1996 and 2019. But in the last year, inflows of migrant workers had declined by almost three-quarters, from 207,000 in 2015-16 to just 58,000 in 2019-20.
Switch off over the Christmas break!
2020 has been a challenging and mentally taxing year for everyone. As the year draws to a close, employees will likely be starting to feel tired and will be looking forward to downing tools and celebrating over the festive period.
During this time, it is important that employees are able to relax and recuperate so that they return to work feeling refreshed and ready to hit the ground running once again.
Top tips include not opening emails during the break. If employees have time off over the Christmas period, it is important that they are able to properly enjoy it. And with the majority of employees working from home – and with technology meaning that staff can be constantly contactable – it can be tempting to check and reply to emails outside of working hours when the phone starts to ping.
However, sending or receiving a ‘quick’ email could mean that staff members get dragged back to their desks when they are supposed to be off work.
As so many people have been working from home it is also important to leave the ‘home office’.
To help employees properly switch off over Christmas, it is important for them to tidy away anything relating to work – whether this is laptops, notepads, work phones or papers – so that they can close the door on their dedicated office space, or even move away from the coffee table that they normally work from. Switching off will be more difficult this year but hopefully, following these two tips will help mean that we return rejuvenated and rested!
Judicial review finds against the Government on PPE for Gig workers
As part of a judicial review following a case brought by the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB), it has been ruled that the UK government failed to properly provide workers the protections given to them by EU directives on health and safety, including the right to be provided with PPE by the businesses they work for and the right to stop work in response to imminent and serious danger.
The IWB argued that insecure workers – including delivery, taxi and private hire drivers – have been shown to be at particularly high risk from coronavirus.
It was found that the Government failed to properly implement two EU directives by protecting only employees, concluding the EU’s use of the term ‘worker’ includes those who work without an employment contract. One directive set out measures to ensure the health and safety of workers at work; another sets out minimum requirements for PPE in the workplace.
This gap in the enforcement of legislation had existed since the directives were transposed into UK law in December 1992, but the IWGB said the pandemic gave the matter a “particular salience and significance”.
The ruling said the Government must now take steps to ensure gig economy workers have the same protection as employees.
The union said all gig economy workers would now be able exercise their rights to health and safety protection and PPE once the government takes the steps required under the ruling – including by taking legal action against employers that dismiss them for refusing to work in poor conditions.
Wellbeing must be employers’ focus in 2021
A new nationwide poll commissioned has reported significant impacts on employee wellbeing.
With widespread redundancies taking place and further furlough looming for many, 42% of UK working adults are currently working in fear, scared of making a mistake that may place them in a bad light to their leaders at work.
It also highlighted issues linked to work related communications and found that, despite almost six months of Zoom meetings, one in six UK employees are still uncomfortable with being on a video call, seeing and hearing themselves on screen and being in a virtual room full of people staring at their face. Just over a fifth don’t want to talk on the phone and would rather send an email.
In a climate of uncertainty, where workers are feeling on edge, almost a quarter were also anxious about working with difficult colleagues – but unwilling to discuss this issue with bosses whilst almost a quarter were also nervous about dealing with antagonistic customers or clients.
Almost three in 10 respondents are scared about losing their job. With such worries, it’s understandable that almost a fifth of respondents would be too nervous to ask for extra support with a heavy workload and just under a sixth of working adults would be too anxious to seek help with a difficult task. Almost one fifth said that in the current climate, they would dread facing their boss in a performance review and over one sixth said that they would be too afraid to ask for a pay rise.
Employers should try to encourage their teams to adopt a growth mindset and see challenges as a way to develop. We need to focus on what that wellbeing means and create opportunities to learn and develop. Ultimately, 2021 needs to be about building up staff morale and recovery – which starts with individual wellbeing.
Merry Christmas from 121 HR Solutions!
121HR Solutions would like to wish everyone a very happy, healthy and peaceful Christmas.
Home working from abroad
Home working has resulted in much talk of “cabin fever” and increasingly we are hearing of remote working abroad.
But while the process of employees swapping their UK-based home office for a more exotic location may seem straightforward, there are multiple considerations for both workers and employers. A number of City banks have reportedly warned high-paid executives spending the pandemic at second homes in warmer climates, that they could face large tax bills if they don’t return to working remotely in the UK.
There are many jobs that can be done remotely and that means it doesn’t have to be UK based. An employer needs to consider the type of work performed and whether they actually need to demand an immediate return, especially if the workplace is closed. What is important is that employees should keep their employer updated on what they are doing or they may be in breach of their employment contract.
However different countries have different rules when it comes to tax and if an individual ends up working in a different country for a period of time, that country may decide that they should pay tax there. In some countries that could mean paying tax on all income even if tax is also being paid in the home country.
Working visas also need to be considered. When the Brexit transition period ends this will be less straightforward. The flexibility of the employer to recall employees to the workplace for any reason will be severely restricted because of the amount of time it would take for the employee to travel back to the UK; that’s if, at that point, travel is even permitted by the authorities. Time differences between countries could also cause issues for those who continue working.
Employers who opt for asking employees to come back to the UK even if there is no work to offer them should tread carefully, however. Any rules they placed on travel during lockdown should be considered but, if there is no actual requirement for the employee to be physically in the country, then doubt would be cast over whether it was a reasonable request. Where employees can work from home (albeit abroad), it would be wise to allow that and keep it under review. Long periods of several months abroad may have tax implications. Where an employee can’t work from home/abroad, the employer may consider periods of leave and/or request the employee returns to the UK and follows the required quarantine rules.
Workers delaying retirement plans
One in eight UK adults over the age of 55 who expected to retire in the near future now plan to delay their retirement due to the coronavirus pandemic.
New research conducted by YouGov on behalf of retirement advisor Smart Retire found that the turbulent financial year caused by the COVID-19 has led to one in eight adults (13%) over the age of 55 altering their retirement plans.
The research also found that just a fifth (20%) of UK adults see retirement as a one-off event; they will only do it once.
Additionally, over a third (35%) of UK adults who expect to retire or are already retired would prefer to manage all their retirement finances themselves.
The pandemic has caused many workers to re-think their finances.
A report found that a third of UK employees are worse off financially and one in 10 are planning on working for longer than they had originally intended to.
Forty-seven per cent who expect to retire or are retired, said they would prefer to manage all of their retirement finances themselves.
However, 37% said they want some support; 7% want someone else to manage their retirement finances entirely, and 30% want some assistance but want to remain involved.
Business leaders self-medicating with drugs and alcohol to cope with mental health problems
UK business leaders are self-medicating with drugs and alcohol to cope with mental health symptoms during the pandemic.
According to new research from health insurer Bupa Global, 78% of business leaders have experienced fatigue, a lack of motivation, mood swings and disturbed sleep this year.
To cope with these symptoms 38% have turned to recreational and over the counter drugs or alcohol, 34% have relied on shopping or spending and 32% admitted to overexercising.
According to the report, leadership pressures and ongoing stigma about mental health in the workplace could be partly responsible for their tendency to self-medicate.
Though there has been widespread awareness about the need to support mental wellbeing of employees during the pandemic, two in five (42%) board level executives still said they believe it would damage their reputation if they admitted they were struggling.
Thirty-nine per cent also said they wouldn’t be able to seek help for fear that it would impact their social standing within the organisation.