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How To Wok From Home Effectively

Posted on April 7, 2020 at 6:41 AM Comments comments (11)

With working from home becoming the norm due to the recent COVID19 outbreak, we at Harries HR suggest some top tips for staying motivated and productive while self-isolating.

Tip 1 - Create a clearly defined work space. This can be set up at the start of your working day on your kitchen table or in a designated area of your living room. Try to keep in mind display screen equipment (DSE) workstation recommendations when creating your work area to minimise repetitive strain or other injuries.

Tip 2 – Prepare a to do list with key tasks for completion every day. Prioritise these based on four key factors:  urgent and important, important but not urgent, not urgent and not important. Ensure the non-urgent and non-important tasks are dropped to the very end of your task lists.

Tip 3 – Keep your work time and personal time strictly separate. Stick to your normal working hours and do not procrastinate or become distracted with household chores or items.

Tip 4 – Dress for the work day. Avoid staying in your PJ’s. For maximum productivity get up, get dressed and arrive at your home workstation as you would for a normal day in the office.

Tip 5 – Stay connected. Use the amazing tools available through systems such as Zoom, Microsoft teams, Hang out calls or skype to stay in touch with your work colleagues. These tools minimise social isolation which can develop while working from home and is a good way to boost engagement while remote working.

Tip 6 – Take your rest break! Step away from the screen and stand up or walk around for 5 minutes every hour you work/sit. It is easy to work through without a break when you are busy, but a key element of high productivity is essential rest. So, prepare you lunch and snacks the night before and have ready as you would if you were working in the office.

Tip 7 – Set boundaries if you do not live alone. Ensure your partner, children or pets are either kept outside of your designated home workspace or discuss and establish rules so you can stay focused.

Tip 8 - Stay off social media. Try to minimise how often you check Facebook, twitter, Instagram or snap chat throughout the day. Set limits for yourself to only 3 times between 9am and 5pm and only during tea, lunch or your predetermined rest breaks.

Tip 9 – Work to your sound track of life. If your role allows it, set up a work play list and wear headphones to listen to music that motivates you and keeps you focused.

Tip 10 – Reward yourself at the end of each day. Create a routine which signals the end of successful day and follow that at the close of each home working day. This can be as simple as shutting down all work-related emails and apps and putting away all paperwork and going for a walk.

Harries HR have several tool kits and policies to support home workers. Please contact us if you have any questions or if you need support with transitioning your team to working from home.

Call us on 01206 865464 or Email [email protected]

COVID19 Support & Benefits Package Information

Posted on March 27, 2020 at 6:43 AM Comments comments (15)

There is so much information dotted around about the support available further to the Coronavirus pandemic. Below is a summary and links to gain further details for your particular situation. 

Business Rates:

  • Retail, hospitality and leisure industries – no rates for 20-21.

  • Do nothing, you will be contacted by your local council.

  • Retail, hospitality and leisure industries – cash grants.

  • Rateable value up to £15000 - £10000 grant

  • Rateable value between £15001 and £51000 - £25000 grant

  • Nursery Businesses – no rates for 20-21.

  • Businesses that occupy premises that receive SBRR or RRR - £10000 grant

Small Employers :

You must have a PAYE scheme in operation to access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).

This scheme was set up as a possible alternative to redundancies and or lay offs. Instead employers are able to discuss with their employees the option to reclassify them as a 'furlough worker'. In becoming a furlough worker HMRC would then pay up to 80% of the employees salary, to a maximum of £2500 per month.

There are options for the employer to top up the income (20%).  The basis for this depends on current contractual rights and if your terms and conditions already have a clause covering the right to lay off and or short time working. This is not current English Law and as such it is vital that employers consult with their employees and gain explicit consent to "furlough" in writing. The 'furlough worker" is to be sent home and is not to carry out any work for you or anyone else. 

A furlough workers pay can be backdated to 1/3/2020 when the scheme commence and is available for 3 months, but might be extended if necessary.

You will need to access this through an HMRC portal which is not yet live. 

Directors can also be "furloughed" however they must stop working.

SSP (Statutory Sick Pay):

HMRC has confirmed that it will reimburse SSP for up to 2 weeks for employees who have Covid-19 symptoms or live with someone who is exhibiting symptoms.

There is no system in place for reclaiming this at the moment, so it is recommended that you try to obtain proof such as a "fit-note" or electronic note from NHS 111. 

From the HMRC website - If evidence is required by an employer, those with symptoms of coronavirus can get an isolation note from NHS 111 online and those who live with someone that has symptoms can get a note from the NHS website.

Self Employed:

Self employed or freelancers will need to have completed an 2018 - 2019 tax return to be eligible for the support scheme being set up. 

If you missed the January deadline you have until the 23rdApril to get this submitted. 
  • You need to have profits of under £50000 to apply.

  • More than half of your income must come from being self employed

  • You also have to have lost business due to Covid-19

You will get up to 80% of your average monthly profit averaged over the last 3 years (or less if you have been trading for less).

HMRC will contact you if you can apply and direct you to an online portal and application form and process. 

July tax payments can be deferred until January 2021.

If you run a Small Businesses –

VAT payments – if you are due to make a VAT payment between 20-3-20 and 30-6-20, this payment can be deferred until 31-1-2021.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan – this is available to all business with a turnover less than £45 million per year. 

You also have to meet the other British Bank Criteria 

HMRC will pay lender costs and the interest for the first 12 months, and will also guarantee 80% of the loan. 

Should you have a current debts with HMRC you can apply for Time To Pay by calling 0800 0159 559.

General Support for all Households:

  1. Apply for a mortgage break. This will be available from your mortgage provider.

Remember there are long waiting periods so it is advisable to check eligibility early and see what you maybe entitled to via Universal Credit (UC).

The 2020-2021 allowances an average of: 

  • Standard allowance single - £317.00

  • Standard allowance couple - £507.37

There are also other elements if you have children. 

  • Child element £235.83

You may still receive UC if you are responsible for a child or young person or have an illness or health condition that affects your ability to work so contact the UC helpline.

If you rent you may be eligible for help with housing costs so apply. 

The benefits calculator can be found here -- https://www.gov.uk/benefits-calculators

You can also ask for an advance payment, as the standard payment takes 5 weeks to come through if you a facing financial hardship currently.

Please contact Harries HR for any employee/employer and employment law or human resources related queries, concerns or to gain options based on your business needs during this difficult time on T: 01206 865464 OR email:  [email protected] 

We are still working and available from 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday.
If you have a retainer with us all advice is FREE! 

COVID-19 - The Employers Duties & Obligations

Posted on March 6, 2020 at 8:46 AM Comments comments (0)
COVID-19, The Employers duties and obligations in respect of the Coronavirus
The current hot topic of discussion dominating the news is the Coronavirus. But what do employers need to consider and prepare for in the event of an employee or worker traveling to and from a specified area, contracting the virus or is suspected of having the virus?
Under the duty to ensure the health and safety of employees and to provide a safe place and system of work employers have the responsibility to seriously assess the risks associated with the spread of the virus. As such employers would be justified in requiring an employee who have symptoms of the Coronavirus not to come to work. It is further advised that employees seek guidance from NHS 111 and not return to work until symptoms have cleared.
However, if an employee does not have symptoms associated with the Coronavirus, but have travelled to or from a specified area or has had contact with someone who is infected, the employer should review up to date guidance from the gov.uk (COVID-19: guidance for employers and businesses) and weigh up the risks to determine if employees should or should not attend work in this scenario. The employee and employer should mutually agree if options exist to work from home to do so; or the appropriate time to return to work after the relevant recommended self-isolation period has expired.
Where an employee is advised to self-isolate; which is normally for a period of 14 days, due to returning from a specified region but have no symptoms, then it may be deemed that the right to statutory sick pay (SSP) would not apply. This is because SSP is payable for employees who are incapable of work due to illness. Employers should avoid having employees attend work where they have had medical advice confirming they should not attend work. Matt Hancock, Heath Secretary has stated to the House of Commons on the 26 February 2020, that “self-isolation on medical advice is considered sickness for employment purposes.” As such it is highly recommended that employers do not take a one size fits all approach and view every case on its own merit to determine if SSP applies or not and follow good practice guidance as instructed by your HR (human resources department).
Statutory sick pay (SSP) is payable to any employee who is sick and incapable of working at the current rate of £94.25 per week.
If an employee attends work and is instructed by their employer not to come to work as a preventative measure, the employee is entitled to be paid as usual.
The advice from Public Health England currently states that there is no need to close places of work or business if someone suspected of having coronavirus has been to the premises. Should the person subsequently test positive for COVID-19, Public Health England will advise the Company on what action to take which may not necessarily be closure.
All employers must consider putting in place contingency plans to address business continuity in the event of the virus escalating resulting in the workplace being closed. Options to consider should include working from home, working at a different locations or potentially short-time working or lay-offs. It is essential that technology to enable remote access is put in place in advance such as cloud-based platforms and or VPN’s so employees can work from home if required.
Harries HR are available to support employers with planning for Coronavirus and their obligations in regard to employees and workers.  
Call us NOW on 07921804640 or email us on [email protected]


Posted on January 17, 2020 at 9:58 AM Comments comments (0)
With the deadline to Brexit swiftly approaching many of our clients are asking… 

“What affect will this have on EU nationals currently working in the UK?”

The UK as we all know is due to leave the EU on the 31 January 2020, and now that the withdrawal Bill has passed a vote in the House of Commons it is now very likely that the UK WILL indeed leave the EU on the 31/01/2020. 

There is a transition period in place which ends on the 31 December 2020.   So, what does this mean for our EU workers?   EU nationals residing in the UK before 31 December 2020 will be eligible for settled status when they have accumulated 5 years as a resident in the UK. This settled status means they will have the right to live and work in the UK indefinitely. If they do not have five years continuous residence, they may apply for pre-settled status which provides the right to remain until they reach the five years mark.   This scheme is currently open and is accepting applications now.   

 It is imperative to note that individuals must apply for settlement status even if they have previously obtained permanent residence status.   

Other EEA citizens such as Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein and Swiss nationals can also apply under the new settlement scheme.   Full guidance and how to apply if you have any employees who fall into this category can be found on the Gov.UK website or click the click -

Harries HR is offering A FREE HR HEALTH CHECK  to assist you in ensuring your current employee paperwork and right to work checks meet statutory requirements.  

 Call us on 01206 865464 or email [email protected]    

IR35 Explained

Posted on December 17, 2019 at 6:38 AM Comments comments (0)
IR35 relates to the situation where a worker (example a contractor, freelancer or consultant) supplies their services to a Company via an intermediary (i.e. the individual's own personal service company).

IR35 is also known as the off-payroll working rules and the intermediaries legislation.
"IR35" refers to the number of the original HM Revenue and Customs press statement about the rules.

The IR35 rules are aimed at preventing tax avoidance where a worker is engaged through an intermediary. IR35 applies if the worker would have had employee status had they been engaged directly by the end client.

Under the reformed IR35 rules, which have applied to the public sector since April 2017 and are due to be extended to the private sector from April 2020, it is the client engaging the worker that is responsible for assessing their employment status to determine whether or not IR35 applies.

The reformed rules provide that, if IR35 does apply, the party that pays the worker's fees (this could be the engaging client or an agency) is deemed to be their employer for tax and national insurance purposes. The fee-payer must pay national insurance contributions (NICs) and the apprenticeship levy, if applicable, in relation to the worker and must deduct income tax and employee NICs from their fee.

Under the current IR35 rules in place in the private sector, the intermediary has been responsible for deciding whether or not IR35 applies and for operating PAYE in relation to the worker if it does.

Harries Human Resources are offer a FREE HR Health check to any Company who want to check if their Contractor, Freelancer or Consultant may fall into this category or not.

Call – 01206 - 865464 OR Email – [email protected]

2020 Employment Law Update (Practical HR)

Posted on December 3, 2019 at 10:18 AM Comments comments (0)

The HR round up for 2019.... and what's to come for 2020!

2018 brought us some fundamental employment law changes and 2019 has been no different.

In 2018 we saw changes to occupational pensions revaluation rate, national minimum wage rises, increases to SSP, SMP and all family related pay rates and a change to tax treatment of payments made in lieu of notice. But one of the most talked about changes was the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation 2016 which came into force on the 25th May 2018.

2019 brought us similar rises in statutory payments. In April 2019 we had the following rises:

* National living wage increasing to £8.21 ph for anyone 25 and over.

* National minimum wage increasing to £7.70 ph for 21 to 24 year olds.

* National minimum wage increasing to £6.15 ph for 18 to 20 year olds.

And the rates for 16 or 17 year olds rose to £4.35 per hour with apprentices receiving a minimum of £3.90 per hour.

The Employment Rights Regulations 2019 (SI2019/731) increased the maximum penalty that an employment tribunal can order for an aggravated breach of a worker's rights from £5,000 to £20,000.

The Employment Rights Act 1996 has now been extended in respect of itemised pay statements, resulting in a corresponding right to receive information on the number of hours being paid for in workers payslips where pay varies by reference to time worked.

Employment tribunal award limits have increased; with the maximum amount of a week's pay for the purpose of calculating the basic award for unfair dismissal and a redundancy payment changing to £525, and the maximum amount of the compensatory award for unfair dismissal rising to £86,444.

The lower earnings limit for national insurance contributions increased to £118 per week. Similarly, all family friendly payments increased proportionately: with statutory maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental leave increasing from £145.18 to £148.68 per week.

There was also a small uplift to statutory sick pay from £92.05 to £94.25 per week.

The Employers' Duties (Implementation) (Amendment) Regulations 2016 provide that, the minimum level of employer contribution into a pensions auto-enrolment scheme increased from 2% to 3%, with an increase to the employee contribution from 3% to 5%. The total minimum contribution increases from 5% to 8% on the 6th April 2019.

And finally, in November of 2019 the list of prescribed persons to whom workers may make a protected disclosure to was amended. Substituting Social Care and Social Work Improvement Scotland for the Care Inspectorate, to include the Commission for Equalities and Human Rights. Substituting the Regulator of Social Housing for the Homes and Communities Agency; and to change the name of the Independent Police Complaints Commission to the Independent Office for Police Conduct.

Looking forward to 2020, further significant changes are due

The most notable being changes to:

1. Parental bereavement leave, pay and rights.

2. Extension of the right to a written statement to all workers.

3. Increase to the holiday pay reference period.

4. IR35 changes for the private sector.

5. Change to tax treatment of termination payments above £30,000.

6. Mixed-sex civil partnerships are introduced.


The Civil Partnership (Opposite-sex Couples) Regulations 2019 will enable mixed-sex couples to form civil partnerships in England and Wales. Previously, only same-sex couples could form civil partnerships. This change will have a positive effect on survivor benefits in pension schemes from the 2nd December 2019.

In April 2020 the Parental Bereavement (Leave & Pay) Act 2018 will come into force which entitles employees to a period of leave following the death of a child under the age of 18 or a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy. Employees with 26 weeks' continuous service will be entitled to paid leave at the statutory rate.

The Extension of the right to a written statement to all workers means that from the 6th April 2020, employers must provide all workers (not just employees) with a written statement of particulars from their FIRST DAY OF EMPLOYMENT. This is a significant change from the current rules which allow employers to issue statements within the first two (2) months of employment. It is therefore vital that preparations for the correct induction and on-boarding process for new employees are robust and include offer letters and full statements (contracts including all required content), and right to work checks are completed on DAY ONE of employment! As your chosen HR provider please advise me of all new starters to ensure all new starter check lists and best practice HR paperwork are completed to meet these requirements, as the normal 15% award uplifts for compensation for this breach applies.

An increase to the holiday pay reference period will mean the period for the purpose of calculating holiday pay for workers with irregular hours will change from 12 weeks to 52 weeks from the 6th April 2020. Employers will be required to review the last 52 weeks and discard any weeks that the worker did not earn pay to calculate their average weekly pay.

Reforms to the intermediaries legislation (IR35) in the public sector is being extended to medium and large private sector employers. Responsibility for determining if IR35 applies to independent contractors will move to the Company engaging the individual. This is to reduce tax avoidance for off-payroll contractors employed via personal service Companies. Employers will need to review the contracts and pay arrangements for their contractors to determine how the rules will affect them. If you do engage any independent contractors it is essential that both parties have in place well defined terms of provision of service. Harries HR can help you review and update your sub-contractor and independent contractor agreements to ensure that you as a Company do not fall liable.

From April 2020, employers will be liable to pay Class 1A national insurance contributions on termination payments above £30,000 that are subject to income tax by the employee.

BREXIT - As if we are not all completely over having to talk about Brexit - here I am, ready to tell you about plans in respect of employment law post-leaving the EU.

The EU has agreed to extend the date of the UK's withdrawal from the EU once more, now to the 31st January 2020. There are a lot of uncertainties about Brexit, but there are practical steps Companies can take from an HR perspective. Some recommended steps include writing to employees who are EEA nationals and urging them to apply for settled or pre-settled status. This means that, if granted, they can remain living and working in the UK indefinitely.

There will be some technical amendments to employment law to ensure a smooth Brexit. These changes and implementation dates are pending but will affect the following regulations:

  • Employment Rights (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019,
  • Draft Employment Rights (Amendment) (EU Exit) (No.2) Regulations,
  • Insolvency (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019.

If you already have an HR retainer agreement, you will automatically receive your new Parental bereavement leave policy and procedure document to add to your family friendly handbook in the first 1/4 of 2020. You will also be provided with an updated new employee checklist for first day and on-boarding planning to ensure all paperwork is completed and returned inline with the updated regulations.

It is vital, now more than ever before, that Companies engage with a CIPD qualified HR provider to meet all obligations - current and pending - for your workers and employees. The costs to defend a tribunal claim and the awards granted have increased exponentially, so it is easier and cheaper to get it right from the outset!  

Call Harries Human Resources on 01206-865464 or email: [email protected] for all of your practical HR needs

*Trusted and operating in Essex, Suffolk and London for 7 years*

Inter-office Relationships

Posted on October 26, 2018 at 10:59 AM Comments comments (0)

The phenomenon that is BODYGUARD charting the relationship between a personal protection officer (PPO) David Budd and Home Secretary Julia Montague raises some key HR questions about personal relationships within the workplace.
In the situation between Budd and Montague, the main challenge and concern is not just due to Montague’s profile and important position within the government; but also due to her seniority.
It is vital that Organisations have a clear code of conduct policy in place covering relationships at work. Most public funded Companies have policies requiring specific actions to be taken in the event of a relationship developing in the workplace. The scope is vast- varying from a relationship being banded completely, to them being allowed but only under specific circumstances. Where a clear company policy is not in place, it is recommended that employees are encouraged to disclose a change in their relationship status to their manager or to their HR department. A risk assessment is also suggested to determine the possible effects of the relationship,  particularly where the relationship is between manager or senior personnel and a direct subordinate. In some cases it may be necessary to transfer one party to an alternate department or business site, or one party may be required to resign based on the impact to the business. In other cases both individuals may be allowed to remain with caveats put in place to safeguard both parties and the Company as a whole. These include restrictions on decisions which may affect both parties such as salary reviews or increases, duties etc. And both parties would be deterred from sharing confidential information with each other that in regular circumstances they would not be privy to.
The overall key to ensuring both parties are protected in line with the Company’s duty of care - whilst remaining in the businesses best interest - is that clear policies must be in place and enforced.

For a FREE HR health check on your policies, procedures and forms to ensure they are GDPR compliant and will protection your business from risk, contact Harries Human Resources today on 01206 865464 OR email: [email protected]

National Living Wage 2017

Posted on April 10, 2017 at 8:22 AM Comments comments (97)
The Government's National Living Wage was introduced on 1 April 2016 for all working people aged 25 and over, and is currently set at £7.20 per hour. In April 2017 it will go up to £7.50. The current National Minimum Wage for those under the age of 25 still applies.
Key points
  • Most workers over school leaving age will be entitled to receive the NMW.
  • The NMW /NLW rate is reviewed annually by the Low Pay Commission.
  • HM Revenue & Customs (HRMC) can take employers to court for not paying the NMW/NLW.
  • There are a number of exemptions to those who receive the NMW/NLW. These do not relate to the size of the business, sector, job or region.
  • The compulsory National Living Wage is the national rate set for people aged 25 and over.
The rates from 1 April 2017 will be:
  • £7.50 per hour - 25 yrs old and over
  • £7.05 per hour - 21-24 yrs old
  • £5.60 per hour - 18-20 yrs old
  • £4.05 per hour - 16-17 yrs old
  • £3.50 for apprentices under 19 or 19 or over who are in the first year of apprenticeship.

Contact us for a free template letter to notify your staff about the changes.

Harries HR, Recruitment & Training

October - need to know

Posted on November 18, 2015 at 2:41 PM Comments comments (0)
October often brings exciting occasions and events including Halloween. However it also brings changes to the world of employment law.

As such employers should be aware of the following changes that are now in force:

1. Increase in the National Minimum Wage

Age                    Previous NMW        NMW from 1.10.15 
                              (per hour)                  (per hour)
21 and over                £6.50                         £6.70
18 – 20                       £5.13                         £5.30
16 – 17                       £3.79                         £3.87
Apprentices                £2.73                         £3.30
The Accommodation Offset has increased from £5.08 per day to £5.35 per day.

2. Tribunal power to make recommendations under the Equality Act 2010

In new claims under the Equality Act 2010, Tribunals will only be able to make recommendations relating to the claimant, rather than to make wider recommendations in order to reduce the adverse effect on any other person.

3. Health and Safety of self-employed individuals

Self-employed individuals will become exempt from Health and Safety laws if they do not have employees and whose work poses no potential risk to the health and safety of other workers or members of the public.

4. Modern Slavery Statements

From a presently unspecified date in October 2015, any business conducting it’s, or part of its business, in the UK with an annual turnover of £36 million or more will have to publish an annual modern slavery statement. Government guidance on this is to follow, but statements must set out what steps the business has taken to ensure that slavery and human trafficking is not present within the business itself or the supply chain, or alternatively confirm that it has taken no such steps.

5. Tribunal power to make recommendations under the Equality Act 2010

In new claims under the Equality Act 2010, Tribunals will only be able to make recommendations relating to the claimant, rather than to make wider recommendations in order to reduce the adverse effect on any other person.

6. Right of Sikhs to wear turbans expanded

The right of turban-wearing Sikhs to wear their turban rather than a safety helmet is to be expanded from construction sites to almost all workplaces (save for emergency response services and the armed forces).

If you wish to discuss any of the above further, please contact a member of the Harries HR, Training and Health &Safety Team on01206 865464.

Are you ready to share?

Posted on October 7, 2015 at 10:39 AM Comments comments (0)
As the Conservative Party conference in Manchester commenced this week, Chancellor George Osborne made his announcement proposing shared parental leave be extended to working grandparents. 

Currently, the employee and the other parent are jointly entitled to a maximum of 50 weeks of SPL between them, subject to satisfying the eligibility conditions for entitlement to SPL. All of the 52 weeks of maternity leave, except the two-week period of compulsory maternity leave after birth, are available for sharing between both parents as SPL, less the weeks spent by the child's mother on maternity leave. 

The Chancellor's announcements means grandparents will also be able to take paid time off work for childcare under government plans to extend the existing leave. 
The statutory payment, which is currently £139.58 per week or 90% of average weekly earnings, can be divided between parents and grandparents. This extension is specifically intended to help single mothers as they do not have a partner to share this with and may otherwise miss out on the opportunity of shared parental leave.  

This flexibility is likely to help all parents return to work faster and with more ease. The proposal is lead by figures suggesting more than half of mothers turn to grandparents for help with childcare when they first return to work. According to Chancellor Osborne this has been detrimental to some grandparents as they have then given up a job, reduced their hours or taken time off to look after their grandchildren. It is therefore felt that this change will allow them to share leave while they maintain employment which ultimately is good for the economy.  
Some specialists have raised and expressed their concern about the cost implications of this extension to grandparents, as well as the complexity of the original rules only implemented earlier this year. 

Due to the complex nature of the original shared parental leave regulations, its popularity and uptake has been minimum at best. Time will tell if this additional caveat creates a bigger uptake.  

What this means for Employers?  Ensure you have an up to date family-friendly policy handbook which covers and provides clear guidance on Shared Parental Leave (SPL). 

Contact Harries Human Resources to claim our free Shared Parental Leave Policy by Friday 9th October 2015. 
Tel: 01206 865464 
Email: [email protected]