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Employment Update for Small Businesses
June 2021

Dear Subscriber

This month we have a brief update on the furlough scheme as it approaches the next stage, and some thoughts about staff having to quarantine on return from holiday.
Please contact me if you would like to find out a bit more about any of the subjects raised in this update or if you need any help or advice.

Please forward this email to any of your contacts who might find it of benefit.

Peter Etherington
Tel: 01664 668164

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Peter Etherington
The Furlough Scheme
The Next Phase
Whilst there has been a reduction in use of the furlough scheme throughout 2021, a number of our clients still do have staff on furlough or flexible-furlough arrangements, and so it is worth noting that June is the last month of the full furlough grant. From 1st July you must continue to pay at least 80% of normal pay but only 70% will be refunded by the Government. So you will be responsible for paying National Insurance, pensions contributions PLUS 10% of normal pay. From 1st August, you can only claim 60% and have to pay the 20% difference. The scheme is then due to end on 30th September 2021.

If you need any support with furlough, including putting in place furlough agreements or making staff use up some of their accrued holiday whilst on furlough, please do get in touch.

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Holidays and Quarantine
How to handle holiday requests involving foreign travel
We currently have the traffic light scheme in place with regards to foreign travel, with many of the most popular holiday destinations still on the amber list (including Spain and Greece). The only common summer holiday destination on the green list is Portugal. If staff want to book holiday, therefore, you may wish to check where they plan to go. If they go to an amber list country, they will have to quarantine at home for 10 days after they return. If they are able to work from home, that may well be manageable, but if not then that will cause some difficulties. If they travel to a red list country they have to stay in a government approved quarantine facility for 10 days. That may prove difficult to manage even for those who are able to work remotely.

It would be a good idea to talk to your staff in advance and set out your position on quarantine. You may decide that it will have to be unpaid leave or you may permit them to cover it from their holiday entitlement (particularly if they have accrued a lot of holiday). You may decide to impose a restriction on any future holiday bookings, making it clear that you will only approve holiday which does not result in the need to quarantine. It would not be reasonable to introduce that retrospectively for holidays already booked, however.

Of course, this is a very tricky issue, and many hope that more countries will be added to the green list as we move into summer. Employees may be tempted to gamble on that happening and book holidays now to try to avoid missing out. If that means they have breached a company rule on booking holiday (as set out above), there is little you can do other than take disciplinary action. That can cause resentment and a loss of morale. So this needs careful thought and careful handling.

Please contact us to discuss the matter further if you are not sure how best to handle it in your own workplace.

National Minimum and Living Wage
The current National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage rates are:

  • £8.91 per hour for workers aged 23 and over
  • £8.36 per hour for workers aged 21 to 22
  • £6.56 per hour for workers aged 18 to 20
  • £4.62 per hour for workers aged 16 and 17
  • £4.30 per hour for apprentices under 19 and those over 19 in their first year*

*N.B. Apprentices over 19 and who have completed at least one year are entitled to the appropriate rate for their age.