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Feb 22

Posted by
Saoirse Moloney

Pilot Testing the Four-day Working Week

For many years campaigners have been promoting the idea of a shorter working week. Nicola Sturgeon, ahead of Scottish Election in 2021, proposed a £10 million fund to allow companies to pilot and explore the benefits of a four- day working week. It was criticised that the standard 9-5 five day working week was outdated. In a recent poll it was reported that 64% of Britons would support the introduction of a four-day working week with no reduction in their pay. There is no doubt that the pandemic has influenced changes to the workplace with a lot of employers adopting the hybrid working method. The six-month pilot programme will start in the UK in June 2022. It will be conducted by a pressure group, 4 Day Week Campaign. There is hope that the four-day working week will replace the traditional 9-5. However, there are a few considerations to this implementation such as the changing of contracts, dealing with holiday entitlement and change in pay and productivity.

Changing Contracts

Once a contract is made the employer cannot make any changes without the consent from the employee. In this case changing the terms of an employment contract will need approval from the employee.

Holiday Entitlement

Legally employees are entitled to 5.6 weeks paid holiday a year (28 days inclusive of band holidays for employees working a five-day week). For someone who works four-days a week would be entitled to 22.4 days a year (inclusive of bank holidays). It is suggested that if the four-day working week was to become permanent the holiday allowances would have to reduce in line with the overall reduction in working hours. Those who worked a five-day week would result in a 20% reduction in holiday allowance.

Change in pay and productivity

The four-day working week comes with fear that employees will have to work longer hours each day to compensate for the missing day. Employees also fear that it will lead to a loss in pay for working four days instead of five. However, the Campaign calls for no reduction in the employees pay.
Furthermore, some employers who were resistant to the pilot had a concern of a decrease in levels of output leading to affects in the organisations profit. Iceland has been leading this campaign since 2015. The trials were a success, and it was found that participants maintained the same level of performance and productivity.
All in all, the campaign is advocating no reduction in the pay of employees who want to reduce their working days. It is up to employers whether they want to permanently adopt a four-day working week, there will be no change to the law to reflect this.

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Posted in Contract of employment, Employee Contracts, Employment Contract, News, Staff Handbook

Nov 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

The Budget 2021: NLW & NMW

The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced new National Living Wage (NLW) and National Minimum Wage (NMW) details in line with those recommended by The Low Pay Commission (LPC) and these new rates will take effect from 1st April 2022.

The National Living Wage is for those aged 23 and over and the National Minimum Wage is for those of at least school leaving age.

The National Living Wage, the statutory minimum for workers aged 23 and over, will increase by 6.6% to £9.50 per hour.

An employee's age and if they are an apprentice will determine the rate they will receive. These rates can be viewed below:

Posted in Customer Update, Employment Update, News

Oct 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

Returning To The Office: Top 10 Things Employers Need to Know - Part 2

Following on from our previous blog post 'Returning To The Office: Top 10 Things Employers Need to Know - Part 1' the below are the last 5 things and employer needs to know in preparation or the return of employees to the office.

6. Cleaning & Hygiene

Consider how you will keep the office clean which will include surface cleaning and maintaining good hygiene practices. For example, this may include:

    • Implementing a 'clear desk' policy
    • Asking staff to wipe down their desk after use
    • Asking staff to use hand sanitiser regularly 
    • Encouraging good hand and respiratory hygiene

7. Ventilation

Your risk assessment might identify that it is appropriate to open more windows and doors than usual, and it may also be appropriate to consider improvements to mechanical ventilation / air conditioning. The HSE provides further guidance on this.

If you are opening windows and doors ensure you take into consideration  fire safety, and the potential impact on the confidentiality of sensitive conversations.

8. Guidance for those who develop COVID-19 symptoms or are identified as a close contact

You will need to ensure that staff are clear on the process should they develop COVID-19 symptoms in office or otherwise, and also if they are identified as a close contact.

9. Commuting

As part of your risk assessment, you should consider the risks posed by COVID-19 throughout all aspects of your business activity – this will include your employees' commute.

10. Other issues

Ensure you bear in mind other health and safety issues, for example fire safety and manual handling, and how you can manage these within a COVID-19 context. Depending on the measures you take, you will also need to consider whether additional protections are needed for those more vulnerable to COVID-19 due to medical conditions or pregnancy.

Related Articles:

Returning To The Office: Top 10 Things Employers Need to Know - Part 1

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Posted in Coronavirus, Health & Safety, News

Oct 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

Returning To The Office: Top 10 Things Employers Need to Know - Part 1

With the continued relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions across the UK, employers are finally on course for returning their employees to the office in some shape or form. Although restrictions are easing employers must still ensure they are adhering to the relevant government guidance in terms of re-opening and the attendance of employees in the workplace. Returning employees to the workplace will be based on the completion of COVID-19 risk assessments. Once employers have identified risks they must implement control measures to remove or control those risks. These risks and control measures will determine an employers approach on a range of issues which we've covered examples of below. 

1. Social Distancing

While it is not currently a legal requirement for employers to ensure social distancing on their premises, the government encourages this. Social distancing can be considered an appropriate control measure in light of your COVID-19 risk assessment as employers may want to think about:

  • Implementing a one-way system in the office
  • Limiting numbers in the office 
  • Staggering staff start and finish times
  • Reconfiguring desks, using protective screens and a desk booking system
  • Limiting the number of people in certain areas e.g. canteens, toilets, meeting rooms and lifts

2. Vaccination

Currently vaccinations are only mandatory for registered care home works. Making vaccination compulsory in your business could lead to potential difficulties, including potential discrimination issues. Businesses however may wish to have their employees disclose their vaccination status prior to returning to the office in order to consider additional health and safety measures to protect your workforce. However, it is important to note that this raises data protection issues, and whether it is justified will depend on individual circumstances.

3. Testing

In line with government guidance, employers should encourage their staff to self-test regularly for COVID-19 to ensure their safety.

4. Office Equipment

As part of your control measures, will any restrictions be applied or alternative measures put in place for office equipment such as photocopiers, fridges, microwaves, water coolers or communal cutlery / crockery?

5. Face coverings

Employers must ensure they are aware of where the legal requirement to wear face coverings still exists - In Scotland it isstill  a legal requirement to wear face coverings in the workplace in certain situations whereas in England and Wales, it is not currently a legal requirement to wear face coverings in the workplace. It is important to note that although face coverings are no longer required, the government's guidance encourages mask wearing therefore you may consider it an appropriate control measure in light of your COVID-19 risk assessment.

Check back next week for 'Returning To The Office: Top 10 Things Employers Need to Know - Part 2' which will list the final 5 things employers must know in relation to returning to the office.

Posted in Coronavirus, Health & Safety, News


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