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Wage Information

Posted 21/03/2020

Good Afternoon

I have further information regarding the situation with staff.

To qualify for SSP the staff must fit into 1 of the following criteria.
1. Confirmed Corona Virus
2. If they have symptoms of Corona Virus.
3. If someone in their household has confirmed Corona Virus or is showing symptoms.
4. If they have been told directly from a GP or NHS 111 service to self isolate.
If a member of staff is choosing to self isolate without any of the above 4 criteria then they will not qualify for SSP. If they are self isolating through fear, news, caution or any other reason this is a personal choice they are free to make but they are choosing to do so. Therefore not fulfilling their obligations of work and it will be classed as unpaid leave. As an employer you can choose to use your own discretion and offer SSP or negotiate that employees use a period of holiday either outstanding from this year or in advance of next years entitlement.

SSP will be calculated pro-rota. This means if your employee works full time they will qualify for £94.25 per week. If they qualify by earning over £118 per week but only work 2 days a week then the SSP will be calculated on their working hours of 2 days a week so they will not receive the full £94.25.

Regarding laying off staff the rules are very much dependant upon the contents of your employee contracts. Please take the time to look at the advice given by ACAS using these links:
https://archive.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=1639
https://archive.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=3840

In short the advice I was given today is that if you do not have a specific clause in your employee contracts known as Temporary Layoff Clause then you are advised to pay staff their 'normal pay' (even if the business closes whether this is voluntary or enforced.) There is no industry standard or minimum for this. To my understanding you are only legally required to fulfil your contractual agreement.

Example: 
If an employee is contracted to 4 hours a week but in most cases works 16 hours a week then as long as you pay them their contractual hours of 4 per week then you are legally fulfilling your contractual duties.

If any of your employees are on a zero hour contact you are not obliged to provide them with any working hours. It also means that they have no contractual obligation to work when you request them to. Please take the time to look at the advice given using this link:
https://www.acas.org.uk/zero-hours-contracts

If your employee has worked for you less than 2 years then they have no standing under Employment Rights. If you deem it necessary for the business to avoid closure or bankruptcy these employees can be dismissed from work without having to go through any additional processes such as Redundancy etc. I have been advised today that due to the current situation it would not be seen as 'unfair dismissal' in a tribunal case but please note this is just advice and not a guarantee.

You also have an option to make changes to the current contracts your employee have. This is done through consultancy and compromise. If your employee agrees to the contractual changes that is fine but if they do not you should make every effort to negotiate terms acceptable to both parties. If a compromise can not be reached you can enforce the changes by dismissing the employee and rehiring them under the new contractual agreement. If they refuse to sign the new contract then they stay dismissed from the company and no longer employed. Please read the advice on the links below carefully before making any decisions.
https://www.acas.org.uk/changing-an-employment-contract/when-changes-are-not-agreed
https://www.acas.org.uk/what-an-employment-contract-is

Our advice is talk to your staff as soon as possible. Explain the situation, be open and honest and ask for their support. Most of your employees will be entitled to Universal Credit or ESA (Employment and Support Allowance)  so hopefully, financially they will not be impacted too much.

They can use the following links to check eligibility:
https://www.gov.uk/employment-support-allowance/eligibility
https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit/what-youll-get

The sooner you can start to have these discussions with them the sooner they have to investigate personal funding options and alternatives.

The above information has been sourced from a mixture of ACAS, HMRC and GOV.UK and although it is factual it is still advice and as the employer, ultimately it is your decision as to how to proceed. 

We hope this has helped to give you a better understanding as to what your options are as an employer. These are unprecedented times and nothing like this has occurred in previous years so getting factual, accurate information is difficult at this stage. Please bear with us and we will continue to work hard and bring you as much relevant information as we can as quickly as possible. Some more links which you may find useful are:
https://archive.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=1797
https://www.acas.org.uk/redundancy

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