Welcome to episode three of Tina Talks. This one is being filmed in lockdown. First of all, I hope you are all well and surviving our second lockdown and secondly thank you very much for those that have emailed email@example.com - keep those questions coming. I'm really pleased that I am receiving emails and we are picking our questions for our Tina Talks every single month.
So, the same drill as our previous two episodes. I'm going to read out the three questions give you my answers. I've previously said this my answers are not in connection with any particular employer or any particular employee, so these are very generic responses. However, I'm hoping that you still find them very useful.
Are there any differences between the original furlough scheme and the current furlough scheme?
Okay so if we take our minds back, the original furlough scheme came in force in March, and that scheme allowed employers to claim up to 80% of an employee salary and however there was a maximum of two and a half thousand pounds. However, employees were not permitted to undertake any work the current scheme now allows employers to again claim of an employee's salary up to a maximum of two and a half thousand pounds.
However, employers can now also flexibly furlough their staff, so there's no requirement for an employee to be completely furloughed and not undertake any work.
However this time round employers must pay national insurance and pension contributions too so the scheme was being phased out and there were changes that were coming into force from august which would mean that employers would actually pay more towards the furlough scheme and so in terms of where we are now we are not too dissimilar from March however employers have the flexibility to allow their staff to work part of their normal working week.
I have an employee I need to make redundant, but I want to make sure we part on good terms have I got any advice?
Okay so the redundancy process is always going to be a process which is difficult for employer and employee and what is absolutely key in any redundancy process is that the employer is transparent and the employer follows a fair process, and that really means making sure that you identify your legitimate business reason as to why you need to consider making redundancies that you place employees at risk of redundancy that you give them the opportunity to attend meaningful consultations and come up with any suggestions potentially to avoid their redundancy following a fair process will almost certainly limit the risk of any claim.
However, it won't always soften the blow for an employee so if you really want to um ensure that employees leave on good terms and amicably there is an option open which would be to offer them an enhanced package so more than the employee statutory redundancy entitlement and you would do that under cover of a settlement agreement.
So, what is a settlement agreement?
A settlement agreement is a legally binding document between employer and employee and parties agree on the terms of the employee's departure. That will include, for example, a reference or an announcement. It will also include the employee waiving their ability to pursue a employment tribunal claim and so it's a really good incentive for an employer because they know immediately upon signing and the document becoming binding that employees can't present claims and employees like settlement agreements because they almost certainly receive more than their statutory entitlements.
Can I be dismissed while on long-term sickness absence leave?
Okay guys, so in a nutshell, you can be dismissed. However, it's not a straightforward process um for employers to follow. Essentially if you're under two-year service and your sickness absence is not due to a disability, unfortunately, employers can adopt a two-year rule and ask you to leave with notice. However, suppose you do have over two-year service. In that case, employers need to understand your medical condition, and that means getting in touch with occupational health, obtaining GP medical reports and also engaging in meaningful consultation. Employers should think about reasonable adjustments and really understand and liaise with you as to whether you can realistically come back to your role or a role within the organisation.
Unfortunately, there will be situations where a report will say that an employee is unlikely to return either to their substantive role or be in a position to work at all in the long term future and employers, therefore, have to take the difficult decision then to terminate an employee's employment.
However, if an employee is terminated due to long-term sickness absence employees are entitled to their contractual notice pay and accrued the unused holiday pay.
Thanks all for listening to my episode three of Tina Talks. I will be back next month, December for my Christmas special. I'm not quite sure what that's going to look like yet but keep your questions coming.
In the meantime, if you need any employment law advice. Please contact me or my team, we'd be happy to help.
Stay safe. Speak to you all soon.