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The pandemic caused by Covid-19 and the resulting restrictions has touched all of us personally and in the way we conduct business. For some, the future will bring a change of direction and for others a renewed ambition to take our businesses to a new level. Change they say is a constant and never has that been more true.

This area has been an integral feature of the pandemic. How we manage resource (and pay for it) and retain the best mix of talent for the future. We also know that a majority of businesses are considering additional hiring over the course of the rest of the year.

  1. Furlough – we now know this is scheduled to end in September 2021, beyond the dates currently set for the release of all lockdown restrictions. This will allow employers to plan the return of staff and also manage holiday take up to ensure a balanced return to work and the availability of resource.
  2. Work place risk assessments- these will continue for some time, highlighting the primary duty of employers to maintain a safe working environment. We envisage an uptick in employee related litigation as some employees challenge employers in this area and also as employers insist on certain measures for the benefit of the whole workforce.
  3. #NoJabNoJob – many of you will have witnessed the debates that have raged about “vaccine passports” and how employers might deal with employees who refuse an available vaccine. At Ramsdens we are recommending a confident and robust approach to the issue. Accepting there will be certain medical (or possibly religious or cultural) reasons that will excuse certain employees for those employers who wish to insist on the uptake of vaccination we consider that, in general you can. However, we do strongly recommend the taking of advice prior to action.
  4. Terms and Conditions of employment – now is the time for a review. In addition to a general review to assess your current contracts and how they align with your business needs, the pandemic has provided reasons to review for the future. How would you want to deal with a similar situation in the future? Would it be clearer if you could insist on a medical test if infection was suspected and the ability to suspend employees whilst their status is clarified to help protect the rest of your workforce? Amending contracts for new starters is not problematic but there may be issues where you seek to adjust existing contracts. Again, advice is recommended.
  5. Re-organisation and possible redundancy – sadly this may well be a feature for some employers as future demand and the need to operate in a different way becomes clear. Re-organisations do not necessarily result in redundancies but there may be a requirement to alter work patterns and team make-up. In these circumstances a change to contracts is often required, based on a sound business case. Employers are often nervous about implementing change but change based on a business rationale supported by a clear and reasonable process will allow employers to better align their people resource to the delivery of goods and services to customers.
  6. IR35 and your supply chain. The twice delayed reforms to IR35 have the potential to disrupt your relationships with contractors/consultants and challenge to integrity of your supply chain. Public policy has shifted to bring more working people into the PAYE (or equivalent) net and someone will have to the pay the cost of that. Will that be you through higher “fees” or the contactor/consultant through lower net pay? The burden of decision making and administration will fall upon the end user of the service provided by the contractor/consultant, most obviously you. There is an online tool at called CEST that can help you to determine whether IR35 will apply to the person claiming to provide the service to you via a limited entity. If the outcome of your assessment is that IR35 does not apply you will have to treat the person as a worker for tax purposes and deduct tax and NI and account for it. This may lead to a challenge from the person concerned and there is an appeal process against your decision. As we say an admin burden awaits!

If you are considering your options as an employer, or are an affected employee and would like some advice, get in touch with a member of our Employment team at or call us on 01484 821 500.

Ramsdens Solicitors Employment team invite you to a free training webinar, on Thursday 13 May, where our panel will be looking at options for employers in the context of health and safety concerns and refusal to take a vaccine. They will also be providing an update on the latest developments in employment law including IR35, worker status and Vento guidelines. Find out more here.