It’s been a year few of us will forget but one most of us are certainly glad to see the back of.
Next week we look at what 2021 has in store but for now we take a look back at the year which brought us new legal terms such as ‘furlough’ and changed the world of work in the UK in a way none of us could have reasonably predicted by looking back at some of our key news articles and employment guides.
We kicked off 2020 with reports of a mystery virus surfacing in Wuhan but the start of the year was very much dominated by Brexit.
The UK exited the European Union on 31st January 2020, we then entered a transition period which is due to end on 31st December 2020.
We await the full details of the trade deal, but we do know that from an employment law/HR perspective, the key changes will be to immigration rules. Specifically Tier 2 general and Tier 2 intra-company transfer categories are replaced by the skilled worker and intra-company routes.
For those employees wishing to continue to live and work in the UK after 30th June 2021, they must have applied to the EU Settlement Scheme.
Please see our article, including links to useful government resources, on the EU Settlement Scheme from earlier this year here.
COVID-19 & Furlough
We all thought that Brexit would continue to dominate the news for 2020. Instead the UK was plunged into national lockdown on 23rd March 2020, which not only affected our daily lives and freedoms (please see our article from August on the affect of the pandemic on the nation’s mental health but it also plunged us into a recession.
In response to the immediate financial impact of the pandemic and subsequent lockdown, the government announced its Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) which provided vital financial support to businesses.
Through the scheme, the UK (and employment law experts!) were introduced to ‘furlough’, a form of leave which enabled employers to keep their staff employed whilst they remained away from the workplace during lockdown restrictions.
Placing an employee on furlough meant that with their agreement, they would stay at home (or work reduced hours under the later revised flexi-furlough) and receive 80% of their salary through the CJRS.
Please see our previous articles and FAQ’s on the furlough extension & COVID-19 related content:
- COVID-19: Frequently Asked Questions Answered by Our Experts
- What the COVID-19 vaccine means for employers
- Extended furlough scheme- your questions answered (**Please note that since the publication of this article, the scheme has been extended to the end of April 2021)
Whilst the CJRS meant that many businesses were thrown a vital lifeline and their employees were not immediately plunged into severe financial hardship during the pandemic, sadly, there were still many economic casualties of the pandemic across all industries and sectors. Even some of the longest standing brands on our high street didn’t escape, triggering mass job losses.
We have worked tirelessly and diligently with our clients to support them through the pandemic by being at the forefront of the legislative updates and providing vital advice to our clients who have sadly had to make job cuts.
Our July article on redundancy planning coincided with a time when there was much uncertainty regarding how long the financial support to businesses would remain in place.
We understand that having to make redundancies is very difficult for employers and we tailor our advice to the needs of each business we support. We support our clients at each and every stage of the process and provide bespoke correspondence throughout.
Equality and Diversity- Black Lives Matter
2020 has sadly also seen its fair share of racial injustices with the killing of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor (to name but a few) and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement calling for an end to racial inequality.
The spotlight was shone not only on the USA but across the world and not only on policing. The media took steps to remove racially offensive content which saw shows like Bo-selecta and Little Britain removed from online streaming platforms and local councils were facing increasing pressure to remove statues with links to the slave trade.
Some claimed that we were falling victim to a ‘cancel culture’ but in the main, thankfully moves such as these signified small but vitally important steps in turning the tide on racism both globally and in the UK.
In addition, employers faced increasing pressure to be proactive in their approach to ensuring equality at work, which not only prevents very costly discrimination claims but also aims to ensure that our workplaces are free from acts of discrimination.
Our article from July 2020 provided a useful guide to promoting equality and diversity in the workplace along with useful tips on managing discrimination at work (read more here)
Remember– It is vital that complaints of discrimination are not ignored and addressed in a timely and appropriate manner. If any member of staff alleges that they have been discriminated against, whether verbally or in writing, it is vital to contact our experts at the earliest opportunity.
For more information, please also see our July article on managing workplace disputes here.
And finally, as we bid 2020 a ‘fond’ farewell, we hope you have found our articles and online content useful and informative.
For 2021, we would welcome suggestions from you as to any topics or key questions you would like us to cover. We look forward to hearing from you!
Please quote your Client Account Number on all correspondence and telephone calls. 24-hour client advice line: 0800 151 2935.