Business HR Under The Spotlight – Your 3 Minute January Roundup

“Welcome to Spotlight HR’s monthly ‘bite-size’ look at the latest HR news and important

legal changes affecting small to medium-sized businesses across the UK today”.

Jan 2022. By Kimberly Bradshaw (CEO, Spotlight HR.)

Employment Law – Key changes coming up

Many of the below commence on 1st April, but these are no April Fools, so be prepared folks!

  • Whilst COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters are still being encouraged across the board to reduce workplace sickness, from April 1st, 2022, all England’s health and social care staff MUST be fully vaccinated if in public-facing roles.
  • Also, remember the rules about Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) changed on 10 December 2021, so a GP’s note is now not required unless an employee is off work for more than 28 days (before it was only 7 days) – so don’t get caught short on this.
  • Gender Pay Gap reports are coming into play around the start of April, with employers asked to demonstrate the steps they are taking to balance any pay inequalities. Diversity issues like this are increasingly becoming reputation defining for companies of all sizes
  • Also check the new Minimum Wage changes coming into force on 1st April, details here: UK Gov Minimum Wage
  • Finally, let’s not forget the unusual double bank holiday coming up on the 2nd & 3rd June to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, marking her incredible 70 years of service. So dust off the bunting, plan your staffing cover and remember to factor in the cost of that extra day of staff holiday. And of course, put the date in the diary to enjoy the occasion yourselves!

Through the HR lens – COVID-19: managing the full return to the workplace

With the end of COVID-19 restrictions looming – and with huge numbers of staff still working remotely, the challenge facing many employers is how best to manage this return to work successfully. Some employers are already opting for hybrid arrangements, but others need to get back to their pre-pandemic normal. Studies have shown that some employees have enjoyed working from home, expressing a greater sense of independence, whilst others have missed the camaraderie of the workplace. Either way, the return to the workplace needs to be managed carefully, as change can be unsettling not least during a global pandemic.

 HR Top Tips to smooth the transition:

  • Engagement: try speaking to your employees individually, if possible, to listen to their concerns and address any questions or worries.
  • Communication: present a clear plan of how and when the return to work will occur with clear explanations about why the changes are happening, to keep them orientated and informed. Also, detail any workplace safety measures that may have been implemented.
  • Team leadership: Keep the messaging positive and give regular updates. Focus on the team benefits the return to work will create.

Employment Tribunal in focus – refusing to attend work during a pandemic

The recent pandemic related case caught our eye, Rogers v Leeds Laser Cutting Ltd, where Mr Rogers’ employment was terminated when he texted his manager during the first UK lockdown, to say he wouldn’t be coming in because he feared infecting his young children.

He put in an unfair dismissal claim even though the working environment was a large warehouse which only had approx. 5 people working at one time – plus the employers had already sent out information about safe working measures including enhanced cleaning regimes and social distancing.

His claim was unsuccessful. Overall, it was decided that pandemic fears did not justify employees staying away from work if their employer required their attendance. So, as long as employers demonstrate sufficient safe working measures are in place and engage with employees about concerns, they can expect them to attend work.

If you’re affected by any of these issues, get in touch for dependable HR advice that you can trust. We are here to help.