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Training Webinar : Conduct or Capability?

I am delivering an on-line webinar on 1 October 2021 in conjunction with MBL Seminars – Conduct or Capability? – A Guide for Employment & HR Professionals.

I hope to see as many clients & contacts there as possible – I know that we already have several people attending so make sure that you book as soon as you can.

This webinar is all about working through a complicated case of conduct and/or capability in the workplace and so will appeal to anyone working in HR, managing people or running their own business.  It is from 09:30 to 11:00 and there will be plenty of time for questions afterwards.

Delegates will feel more comfortable in handling formal employee processes after they have attended.

Please click on the link here for more detail of the course and also how to book Conduct or Capability? with MBL Seminars

I look forward to seeing you there!


Updated Training Courses

For 2021 I am running (live) training courses at Sparsholt College, Winchester and delivering some webinars via MBL Seminars (online only :  some pre-recorded and some live).

As always, I am also available to deliver training courses on a client’s site.  This is often a more cost effective way for the client to train a number of staff.   I have done this for workers in all types of industry sectors – from manufacturing to marketing and  from GPs to IT staff.  So please do not hesitate to let me know if you have a group of staff who would benefit from some up-skilling in basic HR processes or their people skills.  The most popular in-house courses that I currently run are:

  • Wellbeing & Mental Health for Managers
  • Employment Know-How for Managers
  • Handling Dismissals and Redundancies
  • Interview Skills.

Webinars are a relatively new way of training delivery for me but prove very popular with those who just have half an hour at their desks for an update or introduction to a certain subject.  I find them quite fun to do!  I hope to be working on some more webinar titles for MBL over the coming months and will update you when these become available.

All the training that I am scheduled to run appears on my Training Courses page which I have just updated.  Please take a look to see if there is anything that you find of interest to you.

March 2021 Covid Updates

Let’s hope that all doggies and other pets bought during the lockdown/furlough period will still be looked after when their owners return to work.

Extension to Furlough

The government has announced an extension to the current furlough / CJR Scheme to the end of September 2021.  This extension must surely be the final one; and allows for employers to continue furloughing their employees for 3 months after the end of all lockdown restrictions which is planned for June 2021.  In order to avoid a surge in unemployment rates at the end of June 2021 the economy has 3 months to ‘bounce back’ and get any remaining furloughed employees back to work.  Employers will be expected to make a 10% contribution in July and a 20% contribution in August and September to the cost of each employee’s furlough pay.

Workplace Covid19 testing

Businesses of all sizes can now undertake lateral flow testing for their employees in order to test for Covid19.  There is a no longer a requirement for a minimum number of employees in order for employers to access the tests, which are available  from the government.

Lateral flow tests are not as accurate as the swab tests but they an improvement on no testing at all.  They are very quick, non-intrusive and simple to use.

These tests are available for free via the government’s website – see link below. You must register by 31 March 2021.

An employer can also pay to have tests administered privately.

The End of Shielding In England

Shielding comes to an end in England on 1 April 2021.    Dates for other countries which form part of the UK may differ.  Employees who are affected by shielding may either wish to work from home or if that is not possible, they will need to return to their place of work.

The government will be writing to vulnerable employees who have been shielding in the 2nd/3rd week of March 2021.  Those workers will have had their first Covid19 vaccination but are still advised to keep social contact to a minimum.  Any workplace must be Covid secure for any previously shielding employees now returning to work.  SSP is no longer payable from 1 April 2021 for those who were shielding.

Dismissal for Not Wearing a Mask

A case has come to the Employment Tribunal service from an employee who was dismissed by his employer for refusing to wear a mask at work. The incident which led to the dismissal took place on a client’s site.  The employer decided that he could not continue to employ the worker, on the basis that he would not comply to this workplace requirement despite being warned.

The judge ruled that this was a fair dismissal and took into account the fact that the employee did not show any remorse for his actions.  The employer followed a fair process in making this dismissal.

Each case bought before an Employment Tribunal is based on the particular facts of that case and may be subject to appeal by the employee.  Similar cases may lead to different outcomes in other courts which are part of the Tribunal system.  However it is useful for employers to know that in principle they may be able to make a fair dismissal where employees continue to flout rules over mask wearing.

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Employers who wish to make any dismissal are welcome to call me for advice on 07788 994164.


Pay Review and National Minimum Wage

human resources hr advisor adviser help support advice consultant southampton hants winchester National Minimum Wage Increases : To take effect from 1 April 2021

Last  Autumn it was thought that the government might not increase the National Minimum Wage this year as a response to the current economic situation…..That has proved not be the case with rises taking affect from April 2021.

Whilst on the subject of pay…we may have expected that the commitment of nursing staff shown during the pandemic would be reflected in this year’s pay award.  Nurses however will only receive a 1% rise; and this may surprise many.  The government however refer to affordability as the main criteria for their decision and also state that nursing staff are already well paid.  They point to the fact that they have little problem with recruiting staff as interest in nursing has increased over the last few months.  Had the NHS faced problems with recruitment then they may have taken a different approach.  The public sector is also doing well in retaining staff; as job security is valued by workers when unemployment is high.

Businesses may wish to use similar criteria when deciding what approach they wish to take when deciding on this year’s pay review.  They will need to take into account what they need to put in place in order to recruit and retain their staff, how much they can afford and to what extent they wish to reward & motivate their star performers.  The impact of Covid19 on the workforce may have changed the focus of the businesses in how they decide on pay awards this year.

So back to the National Minimum Wage.   Increases are as follows:

  • National Living Wage to increase 2.2%, from £8.72 to £8.91 per hour.  This now applies to anyone over the age of 23.
  • National Minimum Wage (for those aged 21-22 years) to increase 2%, from £8.20 to £8.36 per hour
  • National Minimum Wage (for those aged 18-20 years) to increase 1.7% from £6.45 to £6.56 per hour
  • National Minimum Wage (for those aged under 18years) to increase 1.5% from £4.55 to £4.62 per hour
  • Apprenticeship Wage (until the apprentice is aged over 19 years) to increase 3.6% from £4.15 to £4.30 per hour.

Employers are advised to write to their staff to confirm any increase to their pay and the date from which the rise is effective.


Statutory Rates Increase for Family & Sick Leave…. and Redundancy Pay

Statutory Pay Rates for ‘Family Leave’ : From 4 April 2021

Employees who are currently on, or will be taking, the following types of leave:

  • Maternity
  • Paternity
  • Adoption
  • Shared Parental
  • Parental Bereavement

will receive a small increase from April 2021. They will receive £151.97 per week for the duration of their leave, (except for those on maternity and adoption leave who will receive 90% of their earnings for the first 6 weeks of leave).  The current weekly rate is £151.20.

hr human resources consultant consultancy southampton hants help support redundancyEmployees must now receive details of all payments that they may be entitled to within their contract of employment (or Statement of Terms and Particulars of Employment).  Those payments would include reference to any  paid leave (as above) that may become applicable to the employee throughout their service.  Employees need to know whether they will be paid the ‘statutory rate’ or above.  The employer does not need to state exactly how much the statutory rate is for that year.

Businesses must therefore make sure that they are using an up-to-date contract of employment and that they have the correct policy documentation in place for any staff that they recruit.

Statutory Sick Pay : From 6 April 2021

The rate of Statutory Sick Pay will increase to £96.35 in April 2021.

This will be the rate of pay that can be paid for to members of staff who are self isolating under the Covid 19 rules.  Many employers will chose to pay at the full pay rate where they can afford to do so.

Redundancy Pay : Changes from 6 April 2021

A ‘weeks pay’ for the purpose of calculating redundancy payments rises to a cap of £544 per week where the termination date is after 6 April 2021. The termination date means that date that the employment came to an end if the employee is being paid ‘PILON’ or the employees last day of service – whichever is the latter.

Redundancy calculations can be worked out easily and quickly using the governments online calculator here :

Remember to pay redundancy notice pay (if the employee is not working their notice but being paid ‘PILON’ instead) at the employees full rate of pay.

Employers cannot claim for a furlough payment for employees during their notice period but must pay them at the full pay rate.

Mileage Rates for 2021

Mileage rates for those using their own vehicles for work remain unchanged at 45p for the first 10,000 miles and 25p thereafter in order to claim the maximum tax free benefit.  Employers may choose to pay their employees less than the maximum rate.

hr advice adviser human resources support redundancy employment assistance Motor cyclists may be paid 24p for all business miles whilst cyclists can be paid 20p per mile.

Those using their electric vehicle for work purposes may be paid an Advisory Electricity Rate for Fully Electric Cars of 4p per mile.

Businesses  are advised to speak to their tax advisor if they are unsure of the rules around paying mileage to employees.

Why Employers Need a Covid19 Vaccination Policy

hr consultant human resources advice advisor consultancy southampton hantsThe mass vaccination programme will provide a pathway out of this pandemic, and the evidence so far is all very positive.  Numbers of hospital admissions are falling along with the rate of infections; and the government has provided a plan (‘roadmap’) for us to work towards.  This will bring an end to the lockdown and all social distancing and other restrictions.

Discussions are already taking place over whether or not employees can be forced to have the Covid 19 vaccination by their employer.  The consensus at the moment seems to be : ‘No.  Your employer cannot force anyone to have an injection’.

This is based on the fact that those who may have allergies, are pregnant, or have a fundamental belief that vaccinations are unhelpful/harmful, or other similar views or issues; may be discriminated against.  Unless your business requires an employee to travel overseas or if you provide services in the care sector then there is possibly not much of an argument that your employees ‘must’ have the vaccination.  Therefore a ‘no jab, no job’ approach during recruitment may be risky to most employers.

It is helpful for businesses  to have a policy in place for all existing employees to access regarding Covid19 vaccinations.  This policy should cover the employer’s position in supporting staff who will have the vaccination.  This is for several reasons:

  • The employee can see that they will be able to take time off work at short notice if they need to, in order to attend their vaccination appointment
  • The employee will know that their employer will pay them if they need to take time off work to attend their vaccination appointment.  The employer does not have to pay them but any employer wishing to support their staff should do so if at all possible
  • Employers have a general duty under Health and Safety legislation to put measures in place to protect the Health and Safety of their employees, and supporting other members of staff in having their Covid 19 vaccinations demonstrates compliance to that principle
  • Pro-vaccination supporters can see that the Company is supporting the general principle of encouraging staff to attend for their vaccinations.

Those who are unable, or do not wish, to be vaccinated can see that there is no plan to change their job role or suffer any detriment if that do not take up the vaccination.

The policy should be written to encourage the employee to attend their appointment but not force them.

The employee can also see that the Company has considered its obligations under the GDPR in holding details of whether or not they have had the Covid 19 vaccination.  Remember that any medical data is classed as ‘special category data’ by the Information Commissioner and should be subject to more extensive confidentiality and processing.  Keeping that data separate from other personal data and ensuring that only those with a need to know can access it, would help an employer comply with the rules.  An employer would of course not share the names of those who have or have not been vaccinated with the workforce, but it might be useful to be able to confirm how many people in terms of a % have had the jab if asked.

If you would like to discuss a the policy in more detail then please do not hesitate to let me know on 07788 994164 /

Who Can Be Furloughed?

southampton hr consultant hampshire adviser advice employment contracts of employment redundancyEmployees can be furloughed by their employer during this current lockdown.   The furlough of employees is at the employer’s discretion so employers do not have to furlough employees if there is work available.  Where the furlough of staff is proposed, employers should aim to be as fair as possible and non-discriminatory in their approach to deciding which staff could be affected. The current scheme (which started in November) runs until the end of April 2021.

As under the previous scheme, employees cannot undertake any work for their employer during the time that they are furloughed but they may attend training.  Employees can also be required to attend disciplinary and grievance hearings and other meetings which are held in support of those processes.

Employers can furlough (subject to eligibility criteria):

  • Employees who need to stay at home due to school or childcare facilities being closed
  • Employees who are looking after a vulnerable adult in their household
  • Those who are clinically extremely vulnerable following guidance from public health.

If employees have school age children to look after and cannot work from home then what choice does the parent have in not working?  They cannot attend the workplace so furlough would be the sensible option.   As a compromise, the employee could agree to ‘flexible furlough’ which allows them to work part time; or apply to take annual leave.   Zurich Insurance has announced that they are giving 2 weeks extra paid leave to parents who need time off work to provide childcare which is a fantastic lead for other employers to follow.  Other businesses of course cannot necessary afford to provide any additional leave.

During the last lockdown ‘support bubbles’ were not immediately available but this time around, those who live alone can join with another household for support.  Some families with childcare challenges may be lucky enough to have someone living alone in their household bubble who might be able to assist them in supervising children.  This could take the strain off some families and reduce the number of individuals who request a furlough arrangement.

If the employee was previously furloughed they would have been written to by their employer and indicated that they agreed to that arrangement.  If the employee is being furloughed again they must receive another letter to confirm the dates of this current furlough.  Paperwork supporting the furlough of employees must be kept by the employer for 5 years in case of inspection by the HMRC.

Those who self isolate are eligible for SSP from day one unless their employer chooses to pay them Company sick pay at the full rate.  Some SSP payments can be reclaimed by the employer from the government.

Full details of the current furlough arrangements for employees can be found here : furlough scheme rules

2021 Lockdown Begins

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England enters another period of lockdown today with other parts of the UK similarly affected.  This will come as no surprise for many of us;  as the new variant of the Coronavirus causes renewed alarm.  It would appear that we are back where we started almost 12 months ago but this time round we have high hopes that the vaccination programme will bring things back under control over the coming months. 

For the time being it is back to working from home for those who can.  Large areas of the country were already subject to the Tier 4 arrangements which encouraged homeworking so changes for many businesses may not be too disruptive.  The government are asking all employees to work from home unless it is ‘unreasonable’ for them to do so. 

Employers should also be aware that:

  • Employees who are ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ must work from home or not work at all.  Those employees who are affected will be written to by the government and further advice can be found at
  • Employers may furlough employees who cannot work due to difficulties in looking after children, as schools will be closed to children of those who are not key workers
  • Hospitality, leisure and retail businesses may be eligible for a one-off government grant of £9,000 to help keep them  afloat
  • Travel should only take place for ‘essential reasons’ 
  • The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme which was recently extended until the end of April 2021, allows employer’s for furlough employees where there is a downturn in work.  

For this lockdown, construction and manufacturing are expressly advised that they can stay open for business in order to support jobs and the economy.   Also MOT services are allowed to continue operating which was not the case for the first full lockdown in the Spring of 2019; as are bicycle shops.  Garden centres and builders merchants are also allowed to stay open this time around.    Businesses who allow the public on to their premises should check the full list of those retailers and service providers who are exempt from the requirement to close which can be found here: 

If you require help in furloughing staff or any aspect of the latest lockdown rules for employers please do not hesitate to call me on 07788 994164 or email :    


Happy Christmas from Helen at Cleare HR

hr consultant southampton hants dismissals disciplinaries hr advice support  human resourcesA very happy Xmas from me to all of my clients, contacts, friends and colleagues.  Mindful that this Xmas may be difficult for some, I hope that you and your families stay safe and healthy and that you are able to celebrate Xmas with your loved ones.   

I would especially like to thank my retained clients for their support throughout this year when I know that things have not been easy for some of them.  Their loyalty to me has been greatly appreciated on both a personal and professional level and I certainly never take that for granted.  

I know that the tough decisions that some of my clients have had to make this year are as a result of extremely difficult trading conditions.   Many businesses have been saved by those decisions and also some of the government initiatives, and I am so pleased that my regular clients have managed to weather the storm.  

We all look forward to 2021 when hopefully we can see the back of this awful virus. I hope very much that things return to normal (or as close to normal as they can) for everyone during 2021.  Hopefully the roll out of the vaccination will mean that next year sees the back of Covid for good.  

Merry Christmas to Everyone!