Amica HR: Keep talking to each other!

Amica HR: Keep talking to each other!

HR experts today urged employers to stay in daily contact with staff who have been asked to work from home or have moved into “self-isolation.”

Lincoln-based Amica HR – which also works out of offices in London and Hull – said this is even more important now that the Government has announced the imminent closure of schools, which will put even more pressure on parents trying to juggle their work and family commitments.

Amica HR Director David Grech said: “The Government’s announcements, which are designed to stem the rise of Coronavirus and keep people safe, are coming thick and fast. Some of the fine details are still awaited, but they are forcing people to make changes to their lifestyles – and raising many questions.

Amica HR Director David Grech

“We have been receiving many enquiries from clients about the best ways of managing staff working at home, which is a real opportunity for them to support the containment of the virus and also protect workers who fall into the vulnerable category or who are pregnant.

“It is the employers who are responsible for setting the parameters for people working from home, whereas self-isolation is where people who show symptoms of Coronavirus cut themselves off entirely and follow Government advice for non-essential contact.

David said Amica HR is urging clients to ensure their workers feel that their bosses keep talking to them and that they also feel confident that their non-attendance in their normal place of work is not being policed.

Fellow director Suzanne Tricker said: “Businesses could organise a daily team “dial in” or video call to talk about tasks for that day and set parameters around performance. This will help employees to feel that they are being productive.

“We also advise encouraging colleagues to call one another. People can also be  reminded of any Employee Assistance Programmes or Mental Health Support that might be available.”

Amica HR is encouraging clients to reach out to them so that it can support unsure employers by creating programmes to guide them in the right direction.

Employers are also advised to keep in touch with self-isolating staff on a daily basis, to check how they are feeling physically and mentally.

“We have also been asked how an employer should deal with the situation if a person says they cannot attend work because the colleague they rely on to drive them to work is self-isolating,” said Suzanne.

“The employer should firstly ask if they have been in close contact with the person who is self-isolating. If so, they might need to do the same.  If not, and they have no means of performing their duties at home, their leave would be unpaid.”

“Firms are also asking if they can lay-off staff in cases where they have no lay-off clause in their contracts documentation. If they don’t have this clause, they will be unable to lay-off workers without appropriate consultation or without paying them.”

“But they might wish to consider suggest someone to take holiday. However, if they must enforce, say, five-days compulsory holiday, the employer must provide double the holiday duration in notice – in this instance 10 days,” added Suzanne.

Amica HR said many companies are asking how they can claim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) refunds from the Government. They will be eligible to claim up to two weeks per eligible employee who has been off work due to COVID-19.

“They will need to keep a record of staff absences and payments of SSP.  The Government has said it is establishing a repayment mechanism for businesses as soon as it can,” said Suzanne.

Amica HR said there are clear signs among employers that they want to look after their staff, as well as protect their business interests, but many are looking for advice on how to best apply the Government’s announcements.

Amica HR have prepared FAQ’s which they have noticed coming in from clients to share with you. If you have any queries, please reach out.

Download Amica HR’s employer FAQ by clicking here.

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