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Discrimination. Make Sure Your Managers Know What To Do

2 November 2021

Legal Update

Vaccine – Medical Exclusions, Contracts and offer letters
The Government has introduced legislation which requires anyone entering care home premises to be vaccinated against Covid-19 unless they are medically exempt. Those who cannot be vaccinated against COVID-19 for medical reasons now need to apply for proof of medical exemption.

The exemptions guidance states that the individual must keep their confirmation letter and use it if they work or volunteer in a care home after 11 November 2021. There is a temporary self-certification procedure for care home workers which ends on 24 December 2021. From 25 December 2021, those who are medically exempt will need to verify their status using the NHS COVID Pass in the same way as those who are fully vaccinated.

Care Home managers should therefore be communicating this to their staff and any contractors or other visitors now, to ensure that any medically exempt individuals will have their COVID pass updated with their exemption status prior to 25 December 2021.

It is important that contracts and agreements with contractors/consultants are reviewed to include a requirement that the individual will be vaccinated and provide evidence of that or evidence on the basis of being medically exempt. Offer letters to potential new recruits should also confirm that proof of vaccination or evidence of being medically exempt is a condition of working at the care home.

Care homes will also have to ensure they have a process in place to deal with third parties who enter their premises to check they are fully vaccinated or medically exempt and keep evidence of doing so.

Section 1 updates
In April 2020, changes were made to the legislation on contracts introducing a requirement additional information to be included in new and existing contracts for employees and workers.

Some employers may have missed this and have not updated their terms and conditions of employment or contracts of employment which means they are no longer compliant with current legislation. Additional details which need to be included are in summary, confirming if hours and days of work vary, and if so how, details about other paid leave entitlement and details of any mandatory training requirements and payment for that training. The requirement to include this information now applies from day 1 of employment starting.

The changes apply to any employees and workers who started work after 6 April 2020. For individuals who were already employed at that date, it is not necessary to issue new contracts but if they request an updated statement of terms / contract, you have one month to provide a compliant contract.

Carers Leave
In our previous newsletter, we highlighted that the Employment Bill was likely to include ‘carer’s leave’ which the Government was consulting on.

The Government has now provided its response to the consultation and confirmed that from the first day of employment an employee with long-term caring responsibilities will be given the right to take carer’s leave. This will be one week (five working days) of unpaid leave per year. The right has not been introduced into legislation yet but is expected to become law “when be when Parliamentary time allows”.

2020 and 2021 saw huge growth for the subscription model. Not so long ago, a subscription meant monthly access to a fairly limited range of options – perhaps a magazine or gym membership. These days there are subscriptions to an enormous range of offerings, from TV shows to beauty boxes. Why not think about these as Christmas rewards for your staff (or for yourself).

Here’s our round up of some of our favourite monthly subscriptions from Alex, Sally, Pam and Bruce:

Flowers (Alex)
Perfect as a thoughtful gift for someone special – or the perfect self-care treat for your home – flower subscriptions have become hugely popular over the past 18 months, as people have spent more time at home. Bloom & Wild and Freddie’s Flowers are two of the brands, delivering monthly surprises and regular blooms to homes across the country.

Our Retainer (Sally)
While most subscription services focus on consumers, an increasing number are focusing on businesses. Loch Associates Group offers an innovative retainer which can be set up to meet the needs of your business and staff for £120 a month. It can be used across any of their services, including First Aid orMental Health training, legal advice, and HR support or health & safety consultancy. Unlike a traditional subscription, our retainer means you are not tied into a long-term contract. Instead, we will work with you to provide the service your business needs at a price you can afford and let you focus on what you do best – running your business.

Gin (Pam)
The popularity of gin has hugely increased over recent years, and with it, so have gin subscription boxes. These services help gin lovers discover new and exciting gins sourced from across the globe, often themed around specific countries or the latest award winners. Sometimes these subscriptions also include pairing mixers, delicious snacks, and even surprise gifts – making the delivery even more exciting! Craft Gin Club is the UK’s number one within this emerging category.

Socks (Bruce)
From door to drawer, a sock subscription is the perfect gift for a friend, or a quirky treat to yourself. Specialising in unique and colourful designs, these sock brands go to new levels of customer service, with options including socks that are matched to your personality. Socks in a BoxSock Fancy and The Sock Butler are all popular services.

Whilst there is an enormous amount of subscriptions out there, we’d argue that the best value for money is the subscription to our retainer (although we may be biased!). Not only does this provide you with quick access to experts giving you ease of mind knowing it’s budgeted for, but it’s also an investment in your business as prevention is better than the cure!

As we approach the Winter months, there has been an air of optimism as life slowly begins to resemble the way it was pre-pandemic, and many businesses are taking steps back to get staff back to the workplace after the COVID-19 disruption. For employers, it is becoming apparent that understanding the long-term impact of COVID-19 on employees’ health will be a vital part of supporting and retaining staff and maintaining workplace wellbeing. Here we have considered the effects of Long Covid and the effect this can have on physical and mental health and what employers should be doing. This is particularly important as we are currently experiencing a very tight labour market, so retaining valuable staff is critical.

We have also been considering how we performance manage staff as we operate now with more hybrid and flexible working in place. As we move forward it’s important to look at the future and so it’s worth considering how you approach staff performance management and here we look at the alternatives you may want to consider.

It’s been so good to meet and speak with so many people face-to-face over the past couple of months. I have also been judging the Sussex Business Awards – Employer of the Year Award and the Kent Mental Health and Wellbeing Awards. Both gave me the opportunity to hear about not only the fantastic work employers are doing to look after their staff but also the amazing initiatives that individuals have started, sometimes in response to their loss or as a result of mental ill health. It has reinforced the importance of looking after our own mental health, as well as others wellbeing. It doesn’t cost a lot to do that but the benefits are immeasurable. I am looking forward to seeing many more of you as we begin to spend more time in the workplace again.

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