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Staff profile: 60 seconds with Amanda Finn

Position: Partner

Department: Employment & Family

Amanda Finn has been incredibly busy this summer helping clients navigate the numerous employment issues which Covid has brought and which continue to challenge them, especially as the end of the furlough scheme approaches.  She has also been a regular guest on BBC Radio Kent, updating the business community on the latest employment news.  We caught up with her to find out more.

What should all employers be doing now?

It really depends on the sector in which they operate. The Government has announced further support for businesses which is designed to help until March 2021.

The furlough scheme ends on 31 October and it will be replaced with new financial support for businesses with staff working reduced hours. The new Job Support Scheme will be available for businesses with staff working at least one third of their normal hours but receiving 77% of their normal wage (unless hitting the cap). The scheme is open to all SMEs and to larger businesses who can show a fall in turnover. It starts on 1 November 2020 and will operate for six months.

Making up the unworked hours will be down to both the employer and the government. In short on a basic calculation the employer will be paying 55% of a workers wages for an employee working a third of their hours.

Generally, the decision for many businesses is still whether they will fully return to the workplace or if staff will continue working from home.  There are a number of issues still to consider around this if you plan for it to be a much longer-term arrangement as well as how you deal with requests for flexible working.  Making sure your working from home guidance is up to date is the first step.

Alongside these extra measures and with the end of the furlough scheme businesses need to decide if staff will be able to return to work or if redundancies will be made. There may also be other opportunities such as offering reduced hours working, so I would urge business owners to get in touch to chat through what options could be available to them.

Putting Covid aside, the changes which the UK’s departure from the EU bring also need to be considered.  From January 2021 when the new points-based immigration system comes into force here in the UK, it is estimated that only 2% (31,000 out of 1.4 million private sector businesses) will currently be able to employ overseas workers.  To be allowed to employ overseas workers businesses need to be on the Government’s register of licensed sponsors.

Brexit planning has taken a back seat within some businesses, but with weeks to the end of the transition period ending it is important for businesses to also turn their attention to their future staffing requirements, especially if they usually rely on overseas workers.

What other employment changes are on the horizon?

There is probably a lot for employers to catch up on as their attention has been so focused on Covid, however there have been a number of employment tribunal rulings which they should be aware of.  For example, a ruling in March was a reminder for employers to fully understand an employee’s disability prior to disciplinary proceedings which may lead to dismissal.

This ruling highlighted why it is important that managers who are carrying out a disciplinary process understand why employees may act in a certain way and understand if there is a possible link between their disability and their behaviour.  Employers must be mindful to take into account the employee’s health or disability at each stage of the disciplinary process.  Employers should also follow the procedures for dealing with any concerns about an employee’s actions and make sure that all of their company policies are transparent and not opaque and are written using a clear, concise language.

Outside of the workplace, what keeps you busy?

Aside from my family keeping me busy, I’m a keen gardener and have been growing a number of different vegetables this summer.