Croner-i: Helping to address industry HR questions

Business advice specialist Croner-i’s latest webinar aims to demonstrate the company’s ongoing support for coach and bus operators

On 8 October, business and legal specialist Croner-i hosted a webinar session in co-operation with routeone discussing the human resources (HR) issues currently affecting the transport industry.

Andrew Willis, Head of Legal at Croner-i, and HR expert Amanda Chadwick answered questions relating primarily to the recent announcement of the government’s Job Support Scheme (JSS) and how it relates to redundancy and furlough.

JSS will follow the conclusion of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) on 31 October, and be open from November 1 to the end of April 2021. All employers with a UK bank account and UK PAYE scheme can claim the grant. There is no need for the employer or employee to have previously used CJRS.

Under JSS, for every hour not worked by the employee, the government and employer will contribute one third towards the usual hourly wage for that employee, with the final third sacrificed. Government contributions are capped at £697.92 per month. While it will not apply to employees undergoing redundancy processes, it will be possible to consult with staff on redundancy and make a JSS claim during the same period. Employees subject to JSS must have been on the company’s payroll with real time information submitted at least since 23 September.

According to Mr Willis, the most important thing to pick up is the mix between JSS and its operation and redundancy. “Until now, under the furlough scheme, it’s been possible as long as employees saw out their notice to recover notice pay. That will not be possible under JSS. It is therefore important to think about resourcing on a mid-term and short-term basis.”

Once the road towards redundancy is started, notice pay will not be able to be reclaimed under JSS. Operators may wish to consider voluntary changes to terms and conditions with employees which may provide a better alternative to JSS.

There is limited guidance on the scheme and Croner-i is awaiting more detail from the Treasury. Communication is important and Ms Chadwick encourages operators to be honest with staff. Explaining the scheme in basic and understandable terms will be beneficial. Any change in an employee’s terms and conditions must be confirmed in writing.

Ms Chadwick further urges operators to never guess on matters that affect them, particularly redundancy – and that all advice is written down and any changes to employees’ terms and conditions is documented. “Follow the procedures. Exhaust every other reason before you go through redundancy and document it, because this is the case you will rely on throughout the whole redundancy process. This is your evidence and proof you’ve gone through the fair procedures.”

routeone subsribers can access a light version of the Croner-i service for ongoing support, where free guidance is available on compliance and legislation, including JSS.

Adds Mr Willis: “The purpose of this scheme is to support what the Chanceller calls ‘viable jobs’, and we are getting closer to the point where hard decisions will have to be made in some businesses. Operators who have to consider redundancy must bear in mind that redundancy and JSS do not mix very well, and redundancy and notice payments will not be supported by JSS.”

Ms Chadwick encourages operators to take advantage of the Croner-i advice line and its team of legal experts. “We want to make every business commercially viable, and do so fairly while supporting staff at the same time.”