Can we require employees who have been shielding to return to work at the end of the 12 week shielding period?
The Government introduced shielding in the peak of the pandemic. Current advice is that shielding is not required. However, those who have been shielding are likely to be the most vulnerable and will likely be nervous about a return to work. They may also be disabled under the Equality Act 2010. You should therefore consider any concerns that are expressed and take action to mitigate any risks. For example, it may be possible to keep these employees on furlough until the scheme runs out or they may be able to work from home. If you would like to discuss any specific scenarios then please contact one of the team.
The guidance has confirmed that all remaining employment rights and terms continue while an employee is furloughed. Holiday will continue to accrue during furlough however you may reach agreement with employees on reducing entitlement provided that it does not fall below the statutory minimum of 5.6 weeks per year.
Although an employer is obliged to conduct consultation “with a view to reaching an agreement”, it is not required to actually agree to any counter proposals made by the employee representatives. Merely to consider them in good faith.
Arrangements for end point assessments can be modified or rescheduled. End point assessment organisations should engage with External Quality Assurance Providers to agree arrangements for the end point assessments where face-to-face assessments are being modified. Where rescheduling is required due to Covid-19 issues and there is a specified time limit for the ESA post gateway, a further pause of 12 weeks is allowable. This should be recorded by the training provider in the ILR.
Ultimately closing a service will be a decision that is taken at the highest level and that decision will depend on risk appetite. Often these types of higher risk are mitigated by way of insurance but that still depends on an insurer being willing to accept that risk. This decision will depend on accepting a known risk and its consequences.
With the loss of face-to-face meetings in the current situation, video conferencing has taken centre stage. But how do you do that in a compliant way? Here are some of the main high-level data protection issues to consider when selecting and implementing a new third party provider’s video conferencing system.
- Make sure you do your due diligence on the security measures offered by the provider. Clearly you can’t visit them, so look at the information offered publicly by the provider and read good quality, reliable, third party sources and ask the provider questions directly. Also ask any other organisations you know that use the provider. Document all this.
- If personal information is being sent outside of the UK/European Economic Area, make sure that transfer complies with GDPR. If it’s a US provider, is it registered in the EU-US Privacy Shield list or does it offer a model clause contract (you’re likely to need the 2010 version)? Or is the service provided from a country whose data protection laws offer equivalent protection to those in Europe? Look at the support service as well as the hosting. Document this.
- Make sure you put a compliant processor agreement in place. The provider should offer one as part of the contract terms. Check it meets GDPR requirements.
- You’re likely to need to update your privacy notice, particularly if you’re going to record calls. Provide participants with a short message and link to the privacy notice in the meeting invite and on any registration page.
- Create or update other GDPR-mandated documentation – for example, depending on your use, you may need a legitimate interests assessment and to update your record of processing.
- Finally, configure and use the system in a secure and compliant way. Look at the settings/options carefully and think through the security and compliance implications of each. That could include deciding who in the meeting can share their screen; whether or not you use passwords for participants; whether or not to record, and if you’re going to record, where to store the recording. Document your decisions and the reasons for them.
The ICO has said it understands that resources, whether they are finances or people, might be diverted away from usual compliance work during the pandemic. However the last thing you need at the moment is to create a bigger problem than the one you are trying to solve. So do the best you can, ask for help from one of our specialists if you need it, and keep the whole thing under review.
On 16 April 2020, Ian Hulme, the ICO’s Director of Assurance, posted a blog for business owners, employers and managers about how to safely roll out the latest video conferencing technology.
On 21 April 2020, the NCSC published security guidance for organisations on choosing, configuring and deploying video conferencing services.