Welcome to the August edition of the AdviserPlus newsletter.
In this month’s newsletter, we will explore what you need to know following the Government’s response in light of its consultation on sexual harassment in the workplace. We will also look at the updates from the Government including the latest on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the impact of travel restrictions and National Insurance contributions, changes to the right to work checks and late applications to the EU settlement scheme, as well as the upcoming regulations that are coming into force in November in relation to employees working in care homes in England needing to be fully vaccinated.
Finally, we will explain the exciting new online tool that will make it easier for both parents and employers to plan for shared parental leave.
Government response – consultation on sexual harassment in the workplace
The government is going to introduce a positive duty on employers to proactively take ‘all reasonable steps’ to prevent sexual harassment. A definition of ‘all reasonable steps’ has not yet been provided. The duty will be enforceable by individual employees after an incident of sexual harassment.
Explicit protections will be introduced to protect employees from third-party harassment such as by customers or suppliers. Employers will have a defence to this type of claim if they’re able to show they’ve taken ‘all reasonable steps’ to prevent it.
The government is going to be looking closely to extending the time limit to bring a discrimination claim and are considering changing it from the current three months to six months. If this change is made it will likely to be across all claims under the Equality Act 2010 to avoid potential confusion over time limits for different claims.
No timescales have been given on the introduction of these changes.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
Between 1 August to 30 September the Government will contribute 60% of wages up to £1,875 and you will need to contribute the remaining 20% up to £625 when employees are furloughed (along with NICs and pension contributions).
It would be your choice whether you decide to top up employees’ wages beyond the 80% total whilst furloughed.
Reminder: The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is due to end on 30 September 2021.
Coronavirus and social security coordination with the EU
Covid-19 related travel restrictions continue to have an impact on the movement of workers between the UK and the EU.
If you have employees who normally work in the UK, the EU, or both, and their work location has changed temporarily because of Covid-19 related travel restrictions, HMRC can consider their individual circumstances, including where they normally work, to decide whether National Insurance contributions are due in the UK.
If you or your employees need proof that you have to pay UK National Insurance contributions, you should apply for a certificate using one of the appropriate forms available of the government’s website providing details of the Covid-19 related travel restrictions that apply.
The arrangements with the EU, which allow HMRC to disregard changes to individuals’ work locations caused solely by Covid-19 related restrictions, will end no later than the end of December 2021.
People working in care homes in England required to have full coronavirus vaccination
The Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2021 provide that only people who can demonstrate evidence of having had a complete course of a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine (or evidence that they are exempt from vaccination) are allowed to work in a CQC-registered care home in England.
The requirement to be vaccinated applies to individuals who enter the indoor premises of a care home, including the care home staff and any professionals visiting the home, such as healthcare workers, tradespeople, hairdressers and beauticians, and CQC inspectors.
The requirement excludes residents; friends or relatives of residents who are visiting; persons providing emergency assistance or urgent maintenance work in the care home; and those under the age of 18.
The Regulations were made on 22 July 2021 and come into force on 11 November 2021. This means that there is a 16-week grace period from the Regulations being made until the requirement to be vaccinated comes into effect.
Changes to right to work checks
Temporary Covid-19 Right to Work checks concessions were extended to 20 June 2021 to coincide with the date when restrictions were hoped to be fully lifted. This temporary adjustment has been extended further and employers now have until 31 August 2021 to carry out temporary Covid-19 adjusted check measures.
Employers will not be required to carry out retrospective checks on those who had Covid-19 adjusted checks between 30 March 2020 and 31 August 2021 (inclusive). This has been confirmed by the Home Office and is a departure from previous guidance where employers were advised that the Covid-19 adjusted right to work checks would only provide a temporary statutory excuse and that new retrospective checks would need to be carried out within 8 weeks of the temporary measures coming to an end.
From 1st September 2021, employers must either:
- Check the applicant’s original documents, or
- Check the applicant’s right to work online, if they’ve provided their share code
EU Settlement Scheme: late applications
If any of your employees have not yet applied, you may wish to encourage them to apply for a valid immigration status as soon as possible. Late applications to the EU settlement scheme may be accepted where there are reasonable grounds.
Further information on how to apply please refer to the GOV.UK https://www.gov.uk/settled-status-eu-citizens-families/applying-for-settled-status
Gender pay gap reporting
From 5 October 2021 enforcement action against employers (public, private and voluntary), who fail to report their gender pay gap information for the 2020/21 year, will start.
Off-payroll (IR35) contracted out services – make sure you are applying the rules correctly.
The off-payroll working rules (commonly known as IR35) changed on 6 April 2021. It is important that you fully consider any arrangements you enter into in response to the off-payroll working rules changing. Be especially cautious of any that claim you do not need to consider the off-payroll working rules. It is understood that in some instances, arrangements are being put in place that mean some client organisations would no longer be responsible for considering the off-payroll working rules. These may be labelled as ‘contracted out services’ or ‘statement of works’.
New tool for making planning shared parental leave easier
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has launched a new online tool to help working families make the most of the Shared Parental Leave and Pay Scheme.
Parents can use the tool to check whether they are eligible for the scheme, see how many weeks of Shared Parental Leave and Statutory Shared Parental Pay are available to them, agree how they will share the entitlement between them, and plan how and when they will take their leave and pay.
The new tool transforms a lot of the detailed rules of the scheme into a simple process; the eligibility checker and planning tool each take less than 5 minutes to complete. Parents and employers can dip in and out of the plan as they firm up their dates for taking shared parental leave.
Although the tool is for parents, employers can also use the tool to perform a simple check for eligibility. The tool makes it easier for parents to access the scheme and easier for employers to understand and administer shared parental leave.
The tool provides guidance only, and employers will still need to check that their employee meets the continuity of service test for shared parental leave and the continuity of service and minimum earnings tests for Statutory Shared Parental Pay.
Note: The above guidance was correct at the time of writing this article on 18/08/21 however, you need to be fluid in your approach to coronavirus as the policy and government guidance is changing rapidly. We therefore recommend you regularly check the government official guidance on the gov.uk website and news for updates or contact us if you have any specific questions.
If you have any questions regarding the content of this newsletter or would like more information to support your business with the changes, please get in touch.