Fact Sheet: Employment matters to consider as we prepare to emerge from lockdown

The government has set out plans to take the UK out of lockdown and allow the economy to restart safely while continuing to minimise the spread of the coronavirus. It has issued and continues to issue guidance and mandate actions that businesses and individuals must take to support this effort.

We have no reason to believe that restrictions on how businesses operate will be lifted in the near future, and employers should plan now to meet their obligations in this regard.

As the government winds down the coronavirus job retention scheme, it is anticipated that a significant proportion of employers will face difficult economic choices regarding their workforce in the absence of government assistance. Employers should urgently consider what working arrangements, including working hours, shift patterns and rates of pay they will provide to their staff when flexible furlough is introduced on July 1st, and as government assistance under the job retention scheme is withdrawn.

This note provides some valuable, practical steps for businesses in relation to their employees and working practices as we cautiously resume ‘normal’ working patterns.

Digitalisation World talks to Conexus Law – Adjusting to life after lockdown

Digitalisation World talks to Marilyn Heward-Mills, an employment lawyer at Conexus Law – covering workplace advice for the data centre sector, as both employers and employees adjust to life after lockdown.

Fact Sheet: The Government Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which is designed to support employers whose operations have been severely affected by coronavirus, will end on 31 October 2020.

Since 10 June 2020, no new employees may be placed on furlough other than parents returning from statutory maternity or paternity leave.

Until 31 July, employers can claim 80% of furloughed employees’ usual monthly wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 a month, in addition to the associated Employer National Insurance Contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions.

From 1 August until the scheme ends, employers will begin to resume the burden of employee costs as set out below. HMRC launched an online portal on 20 April, where employers can make one claim per pay period.

Black Lives Matter: How employers can engage with the conversation, AMBA

Racism is an issue that lives within many organisations and employers should consider committing to making real and substantial change now, starting by engaging in the conversation with all employees, says legal expert Marilyn Heward-Mills

The shocking killing of George Floyd at the hands of law enforcement officers in the US, which has resulted in mass protests across the US and in the UK, has once again highlighted the disturbing reality of deep-rooted race discrimination within our society.

Although it might be tempting to confidently profess that racism does not exist within your workforce or business, that might not be the best conclusion to reach without further examination.

In the UK, the Equality Act 2010 prohibits direct and indirect discrimination and harassment in the workplace in respect of race (which includes colour, nationality, ethnic and national origin).

Nevertheless, racism is an issue that lives within many organisations, and employers should consider committing to making real and substantial change now, starting by engaging in the conversation with all employees, regardless of race or background.

Research shows that people from ethnic minority groups are often at a disadvantage in the labour market and are more likely to be unemployed and over-represented in poorly paid and unstable jobs. There is also a significant under-representation of ethnic diversity at the top of UK boards, as shown by the Government’s recent Parker Review.

Particularly, at this time, doing nothing might be damaging to your workforce morale and your reputation, and might not be the responsible business response.

Set out below are some practical steps that you, as a business leader, might consider:

  • Acknowledge that the death of George Floyd and the ensuing mass protests has an impact on your BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) employees.
  • Express your sadness and sympathy about the situation.
  • Clarify and communicate your organisation’s stance and values on the subject of racism.
  • Declare a commitment to begin or continue the process of open dialogue with your staff about how racism impacts them and your business.
  • Consider ways to engage meaningfully in the conversation around racism by creating a safe environment in which individuals can share their personal experiences and learn from each other.
  • Commit to listen to the concerns and needs of all of your workforce.
  • Commit to educate yourselves and your staff about the realities faced by BAME individuals in the work and social space, including those that you employ or transact with.
  • Ensure diversity and inclusion remain top of your agenda and commit to action that will ensure you achieve your goals.
  • Determine what other steps you must take to ensure racism is stamped out in your organisation and how you will build a diverse, supportive culture that is respectful and fair for all.
  • Commit to leadership and action and set targets for required change.

Marilyn Heward-Mills is an Employment Solicitor at Conexus Law.

Source: www.associationofmbas.com/black-lives-matter-how-employers-can-engage-with-the-conversation

Fact Sheet: Publishing a modern slavery statement during the pandemic

Under the Modern Slavery Act 2015, commercial organisations that meet the requirements below are required to publish an annual modern slavery statement setting out the steps they have taken to identify and address their modern slavery risks:

  • ‘body corporates’ or partnerships, wherever incorporated or formed
  • that carry on a business, or part of a business, in the UK
  • and supply goods or services
  • with an annual turnover of £36 million or more.

Fact Sheet: Managing a dispersed workforce

During this prolonged period of lock down you may be managing a dispersed workforce for the first time, including many individuals who have never worked from home.

More than ever, you might need to consider being flexible with your employees, particularly those who are not used to working from home, and who may have conflicted obligations on their time and space.

Meaningful, open and regular communication will help to keep your workforce feeling supported and will help them remain engaged and motivated.

Fact Sheet: Managing your workforce during the current pandemic and economic downturn

During this health and economic crisis, it is likely most employers will need to consider ways to reduce their workforce and commensurate costs.

In addition to redundancy, some employers may have the contractual right to lay-off staff or to implement short-time working.

Employers could also consider amending terms and conditions of employment to reduce hours and pay, thereby reducing overall costs but preserving the workforce.

The government’s job retention furlough scheme is available to protect qualifying employees, which in many cases, might provide a suitable alternative to redundancy.

Although there is guidance on how the scheme will operate, the government has announced it will not be up and running until the end of April. (This topic is covered in a separate Factsheet).

If you decide to reduce your workforce or wish to make changes to their terms of employment, it is advisable to communicate clearly with all affected individuals as soon as possible.

Involving them as far as possible in any discussions will greatly benefit employee relations and increase the likelihood of obtaining their agreement to the changes you deem best for the long term future of the business.

It is important that you do not take any action in response to the pandemic that amounts to discrimination, whether inadvertently or otherwise.

Fact Sheet: Health and safety obligations for employers related to Covid-19

As an employer you have a duty of care to your employees and should continue to take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure their health, safety and wellbeing. This applies whether they are working from your premises or elsewhere.

At a time of global distress and uncertainty, demonstrating concern for the physical, emotional and psychological health of your staff is not just about complying with your legal requirements – it makes good business sense too.

Showing that you care for your employees will build trust, reinforce your commitment to them, and maintain engagement, morale and productivity. It will also help ensure you have a committed workforce once the current economic challenges and constraints of the pandemic are over.

Fact Sheet: Employment matters to consider during the current economic and health crisis

The impact of the coronavirus outbreak will be more significant and longer lasting than was first imagined.

With that in mind businesses should focus primarily upon the health and wellbeing of their teams, and what they can do operationally to minimise the spread of the virus.

Governments across the world continue to issue guidance, and mandate actions that businesses and individuals must take to support this effort.

This is a fast-moving landscape, with new legislation being introduced at record speed.

We are working hard to keep our clients up to date.

This note provides some practical steps that may be taken by businesses in relation to their employees and working practices.

Press Release: Conexus Law announces new team

Conexus Law, the specialist advisory firm that provides legal and commercial advice to clients who work in sectors where the built environment, technology, engineering and people converge, has announced a number of senior appointments that are joining founder, Ed Cooke.

Emma Cordiner specialises in Real Estate & Data Centre Leasing with over 15 years’ experience in the world of commercial real estate transactions, both in the UK and internationally. This includes acting for datacentre industry clients, advising during the negotiation and legal transaction phases of securing space in data centres to create global networks spanning multiple jurisdictions.

Husna Patel specialises in construction and engineering law with a strong legal background in transactional and advisory work. She has worked in-house at a global electrical equipment suppliers who frequently supply the technology and data centre sectors, and so has seen negotiations from both sides. Projects include commercial and residential property development, technology projects such as data centres, on- and off-shore wind farms, bio mass and bio fuel plants, and land remediation projects in the UK and internationally. She has particular expertise with engineering and international contracts, such as those based on FIDIC.

Marilyn Heward-Mills has over 20 years of employment law experience focusing on contentious and non-contentious matters. She started at the predecessor to WilmerHale in 1996 as a dual-qualified English and US lawyer. Marilyn is also a published fiction author and a qualified therapeutic counsellor.

Philip Brown has over 15 years’ experience as a lawyer working in the technology sector. His clients include data centres, telecommunications providers, software developers and platform providers and their customers. He has put cloud and software platforms into some of the biggest global brands and advised on telecommunications systems arrangements within the nuclear sector and consumer-facing technology providers.

Commenting on the new team Ed Cooke, founder at Conexus Law, said: “Conexus Law is founded on the belief that we can only deliver the best counsel if we have a strong understanding of the sectors’ challenges and the underlying technology and processes. Therefore, every member of the team has specific industry expertise and is a leader in their field. I am extremely proud of this amazing group of people and look forward to welcoming others as we continue to grow.”