The last few weeks have seen us having to adjust to new ways of living and working that we’re still getting used to. We know from speaking to our clients that managing a team of employees who are either working from home or who have had to go on furlough can be really tough.

So for our blog this month, we thought we’d look at the different ways you can keep in touch with your employees and the rules around furloughed staff.

Not many of us had heard of Zoom before the lockdown started but now it seems like everyone’s using it; it was even used in Parliament this week for Prime Minister’s Questions. If you have employees who are still working but who are working from home, holding regular remote meetings are really important. They can obviously help with the day to day running of the business but they’re also good for supporting peoples’ mental health

Keeping in touch with your employees who are working from home is really important and video conferencing a really good tool for holding remote meetings for both small and large teams. Staying in touch is obviously really important to keep the business running but it can also be vital for peoples’ mental health – staying in touch, keeping the office banter going and talking about each other’s lockdown experience is beneficial to all.

Zoom isn’t the only tool that’s good for this; you can try Skype, Group Facetime or WhatsApp or Google Meet.

In between the conference calls, you can have more ad hoc contact by setting up a WhatsApp group chat or Facebook Messenger chat or even a closed group on Facebook.

If you have put your employees into the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, i.e. furlough then the rules say they can’t do any work for you at all. But that doesn’t mean you can’t keep in touch with them and in fact, regularly checking in with them is really important.

Each person will react differently to being furloughed. Some will see it as a great opportunity to spend more time with the family and get those jobs done around the house. Others will become incredibly anxious about the future and may even believe furlough is the first step to redundancy.

Staff in the first group may not need that much contact; perhaps just a weekly email to let them know how things are going and the plans that you’re putting in place for reopening the business. Staff in the second group will need more; at the very least a weekly phone call or video call and it would be worth being on the look-out for clues that they need more mental health support.

These are unprecedented times but it looks like we have a way to go yet until life can get back to normal. In fact, it might change the way we work for good, so getting to grips with virtual working tools now will stand your business in good stead for the future.

A new tax year has begun.

In amongst all the chaos and uncertainty of coronavirus, we’ve moved into a new tax year almost unnoticed. So here’s a quick summary of the new minimum wage rates that now apply.

Personal allowances and thresholds haven’t changed this year so the starting point for taxation remains at £12,500 and the higher rate threshold is still £50,000. Bear in mind these are the current rates for England & Wales, there is a slightly different taxation regime in Scotland which we covered in our September blog here.

The National Living Wage for everyone over 25 years has increased to £8.72 per hour. This means that someone working 40 hours per week will see an increase of just over £1,000 per year in their wages.

The National Minimum wage applies to everyone under 25 and the rates are:

Year 21 to 2418 to 20Under 18Apprentice
Rate applicable for 2020/21 tax year£8.20£6.45£4.55£4.15

Get in touch if you need any help with the new rates or support in running your payroll during these difficult times.