We round up the latest employment news.
First furlough fraud arrests are made
The West Midlands Police have arrested a man suspected of defrauding the furlough scheme £495,000,
according to Personnel Today. They've removed his computers and other documents as part of its investigation into suspected furlough fraud, money laundering and other tax fraud. HMRC have repeatedly warned businesses that it will pursue those who deliberately defraud it. This public arrest demonstrates its intent.
Those that make
genuine mistakes have less to fear – but they will still have to repay HMRC. If you suspect you've got your sums wrong (the calculations aren't for the faint hearted), it's sensible to have someone else look at them and take steps to correct errors. HMRC are expected to offer a 30-day 'amnesty' soon to allow businesses who have made genuine mistakes, or have incorrectly claimed, to 'confess' and repay money to it without incurring penalties. Furlough grant can be used to pay contractual notice
Employers can use furlough money to pay for the notice period of their staff, according to the
latest official guidance on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. This applies even if this exceeds the statutory notice periods, which provide a week’s notice for each year of work, up to a maximum of 12 weeks.
Many employers were concerned because government guidance referred to statutory notice only. The updated guidance now says:
“You can continue to claim for a furloughed employee who is serving a statutory or contractual notice period, however grants cannot be used to substitute redundancy payments.”
read our answers to FAQs on furlough and redundancy. Furlough mistakes – employers can delete a claim within 72 hours
Employers can use the online Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme service to delete a claim for wages within 72 hours of submitting it,
according to new government guidance on the furlough scheme. This is particularly useful if you make an error. New data reveals 9.4 million people furloughed up to 30 June
HMRC has published
statistics on the number and value of claims made to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). These reveal that:
Around 9.4 million employments have been placed on furlough, up 678,000 from claims made by end of May 2020
At least one CJRS claim was made by 1.14 million employers, up 75,000 from claims made by end of May 2020
Total support claimed by end of June was £26.5bn
The sector with the highest proportion of furloughed employments was the accommodation and food services sector, with 87% of employers having furloughed staff, and a total of 73% of employments furloughed
Men aged 41-49 were least likely to be furloughed (28%), while women aged 41 to 57 were least likely to be furloughed (23%).
Working safely during coronavirus – all 12 work sector guides updated again
working safely during coronavirus guidance has been updated again across all 12 workplace sectors that it covers. It gives advice on:
Keeping records of staff
Customers and visitors
Opening customer restaurants and cafés
What to do in the event of a Covid-19 outbreak in the workplace.
There are also two new work-type/workspace specific guides. These have been added to reflect the re-opening of outdoor swimming pools and outdoor water parks, spas, nail bars and beauty salons.
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) extended to people in ‘support bubbles’
On 6 July,
the SSP (Suspension of Waiting Days and General Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2020 came into force. These apply to England, Wales and Scotland.
Support bubbles: SSP is now available to individuals who are part of a 'support bubble' with people they don't live with, where someone from the other household has coronavirus. In Scotland and Wales, support bubbles are referred to as 'extended households'. In England they’re called 'linked households', and are subject to specific rules.
People who are shielding: The Regulations clarify that SSP will continue to be available to anyone who’s shielding if they meet up with other people outside their household, in accordance with public health guidance, and aren’t strictly staying at home at all times. Extremely vulnerable people remain entitled to SSP until the end of the shielding period – which for most people looks as though it’ll be Saturday 1 August. However, anyone who’s notified to continue to shield or to restart shielding will still be eligible for SSP. The government has said that it’ll update its guidance on shielding on 1 August.
Negative tests: The Regulations also provide that anyone who’s self-isolating because they or someone they live with, or a member of their extended or linked household, has symptoms of coronavirus, they’ll remain entitled to SSP. This is until they or that person receives a negative test and stops self-isolating after less than seven or 14 days. Primark turns down £30m windfall from Job Retention Bonus
Primark is one of the first companies to publically announce that it won’t be taking the Job Retention Bonus as they expect to turn a profit this year. This is despite closing down its stores during the lockdown. Other businesses are expected to make similar announcements. PM announces changes to the ‘work from home’ advice
The Prime Minister said that from Saturday 1 August, government advice to employers to take all reasonable steps to help people work from home will change. Instead, employers should “encourage staff” to return to work if it is safe for them to do so. But at the same time, the government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance told the Commons Science and Technology Committee it was “quite probable that we will see this virus coming back in different waves over a number of years.” He didn't think there was any reason to change the advice on working from home.
RBS and Lloyds say their staff will continue to work from home
According to the Guardian newspaper, some of Britain’s largest banks don’t plan to ask the majority of their workforces to return to office based work until September at the earliest. RBS has
recently announced that nearly 50,000 of its staff won’t return to the office until 2021. Brexit – option to extend the transition period has expired
The UK exited the EU on 31 January 2020. To ease the transition, it entered into a one year implementation period to give the UK government time to negotiate its future trading agreement. That agreement is due to end at 11:00 pm on 31 December 2020.
Many businesses hoped the government would ask to extend this beyond 2020 to give them time to prepare for any new trading arrangements and, in many cases, to concentrate on building up their businesses following severe disruption caused by coronavirus. The government had until 30 June to request an extension, but decided not to do so.
Instead, it launched a new
campaign to help businesses and individuals prepare for the end of the transition period. There’s a checker tool at gov.uk/transition which, it says, ‘quickly identifies the necessary next steps they need to take’. Government provides more information about the new points based immigration system
On 13 July 2020, the government set out further details on the UK’s points-based system. These new arrangements will take effect from 1 January 2021.
The new rules will treat EU and non EU citizens equally and aims to attract people who can contribute to the UK’s economy. Irish citizens will continue to be able to enter and live in the UK as they do now. From 1 January 2021, skilled workers must have a job offer from an approved sponsor before they can work in the UK. The job must be at a required skill level of RQF3 or above (equivalent to A level) and the salary must be at least £25,600. There are some ways in which applicants’ can trade points against their salary, which may mean that people earning less than this can still work in the UK. The individual must also be able to speak English.
There isn’t a general route for employers to recruit at or near the minimum wage which will cause problems for many businesses.
You can also read further details of how the points system will work.
If you’re not already a licensed sponsor and you think you’ll want to sponsor migrants through the skilled worker route from January 2021, you should apply now.
Small increase in numbers of people participating in a workplace pension
88% of eligible employees are participating in a workplace pension in 2019, according to
data published by the Department for Work and Pensions. That’s an increase of 1% in 2018.
The analysis covers the period April 2009 to April 2019, and includes members of all qualifying workplace pension schemes:
Occupational pension schemes
Group personal pensions
Group stakeholder pensions.
It includes a detailed breakdown of measures for increasing the number of savers and increasing the amount of savings.
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