HR 11 January 2021

What HR lessons did businesses learn in 2020?

Tania Bowers from the Association of Professional Staffing Companies

Tania Bowers - Legal Counsel and Head of Public Policy at APSCo
“It’s not just remote staff management that needs to be compliant with legal HR structures – off-site recruitment also falls into this category.”

Name: Tania Bowers

Job title: Legal Counsel and Head of Public Policy

Bio: Tania Bowers, Legal Counsel and Head of Public Policy at the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) is a UK qualified solicitor with extensive experience in the global recruitment industry.

How did businesses navigate the furlough fiasco?

Every business has arguably had a different experience with furlough depending on their sector, the size of the business and the make-up of their workforce.

Some organisations that engaged a large number of contingent workers, for example, faced significant uncertainty for a long period around how and if these individuals fit into furlough schemes and continue to struggle with the fact that furlough does not cover NICs and pension contributions.

“For members of the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo), there was certainly an initial confusion surrounding who was eligible, particularly for those firms that simply had no choice but to make a number of job cuts before the furlough scheme was extended.”

A challenge has been the evolving nature of the scheme itself. With the support amount increasing or decreasing and being extended multiple times, it was often difficult to stay ahead of the latest changes. The regional tiered requirements further confused the situation, particularly for staffing companies with multiple national offices who were unable to provide absolute clarity to their staff across the UK as to who could and couldn’t work.

We know from speaking to our members that without the access to legal experts that they have through being part of APSCo, many firms would have struggled to ensure they were compliantly furloughing people.

What should businesses be doing to ensure they continue to work within legal HR structures when their workforce remains remote?

Assume that the same legal HR structures apply to those working remotely to working in an office. Employers should also complete working at home assessments for all staff and keep these under review.

It’s also important to keep staff informed and keep in touch regularly both formally, such as video meetings and informally, by phone or social media.

At APSCo, many of our members are operating in completely different circumstances, with some already set up for remote working, while others had no experience at all prior to the pandemic.

It’s important to add that it’s not just remote staff management that needs to be compliant with legal HR structures – off-site recruitment also falls into this category. Where businesses are recruiting, it’s important that the same interview and assessment processes that are appropriate in an offline environment are applied online.

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