It’s looking extremely likely that employees will continue to work remotely well in to 2021.
Many businesses are having a difficult time at present adjusting and trying to understand the latest coronavirus restrictions, whilst doing everything in their power to ensure the future of their business.
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has unquestionably saved jobs and supported many businesses, but it has changed and evolved since it was originally created.
The current scheme is in place until 30th April 2021, but the Chancellor has stated that further changes may be made from February 2021.
For this reason, it is crucial that businesses continue to work within the legal HR structures, despite the struggles they have faced as a result of the pandemic.
Latest rules for furloughed workers
Employers can furlough any employee who was on their payroll from 30 October 2020 and for whom they have made a PAYE RTI submission to HMRC between 20 March 2020 and 20 October 2020.
Those who are considering furloughing workers due to the new lockdown must gain written agreements or written confirmation of the agreement from their employees, which they must retain for five years.
Employers must keep a record of hours worked and pay their employees for this time. The furlough scheme is then available to top up the rest of the employee’s normal hours that they have not worked.
It is important to remember that the government will pay 80% of wages for hours not worked up to a cap of £2,500 per month for claim periods running to 31st January 2021.
Employers are required to cover NICs and employer pension contributions on all amounts paid to an employee, including those covered by the furlough scheme.
Health and safety measures for staff working from home
Guidance issued by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) states that there is no specific requirement for employers to carry out an assessment of employee’s homework station if they are working from home on a temporary basis.
However, under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, if the employee is working from home on a long-term basis, an assessment must be carried out.
Many employers will have had their staff working from home since March, and so should consider whether a risk assessment is necessary.
Businesses with a small number of workers can provide them with a basic risk assessment to complete, which can then be used to feed back information to employers.
To continue to work within the HR structures of home working, employers must provide employees with safe systems of work and working equipment, as stated under Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
“As employees will be working from home for the foreseeable future, there is a risk that their set up may not be suitable. For example, they could suffer occupational strain injuries from the lack of correct furniture, such as a desk and chair.”
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