2020 has been a year of unprecedented change for everyone, bringing with it a business environment that is far removed from any previous norms. This has continued to be the case in recent weeks, with last-minute government announcements creating further confusion for employers and their people.
In a recent discussion with Charles Waterlow, co-founder of AHR Consultants and former HR Director, we explored his thoughts on the best ways to approach this new environment. Charles, whose working life has been dedicated to HR, has drawn on a wealth of experience to provide insight on the key implications for employment law.
“Broadly speaking whenever there have been legislative changes in the past, the government have announced them months in advance. As the changes progress through parliament there is publicity and media coverage, so everyone is aware of what is happening. Most of the implications are considered, and training is put in place (if required) to ensure that everyone is up to speed. Months down the line the new legislation finally hits and, although not all parties will be happy, it is understood by everyone involved and can be implemented with relative ease.”
As we know, this has not been the case during the pandemic. Charles adds that “it has been commonplace to receive only a matter of hours’ notice before new legislation comes into effect, with the only source of information being the government website”. He recognises that businesses want “immediate answers”, which is made difficult by the tendency of announcements to be “conflicting or missing important guidance”.
“A classic example was when the government initially launched the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), as nowhere within the CJRS guidance did it mention the implications of holiday accrual and payment. This left many employers and employees in limbo, which under such distressing circumstances, was the last thing they needed. To assist our clients, we engaged directly with HMRC and pursued them vigorously until we were able to get the answers which were so desperately needed.”
In these challenging circumstances, Charles believes “it is important to seek expert advice given the speed of change and implementation required”. He adds that “if mistakes are made it could result in funding claims being rejected or an employment tribunal claim being lodged, which both bring unwanted stress and financial implications”.
AHR Consultants are best placed to advise you and ensure you follow the correct procedures. Even though official advice can be sparse and confusing, we have the knowledge and experience to help interpret the information.