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COVID-19: Sector specific and regional insights

Covid-19

This page contains REC resources to help recruiters with in the education, healthcare and construction sectors.

REC has been appointed as one of the Government's Business Representative Organisations to support the national response to Coronavirus, ensuring that recruitment's voice is heard in the key debates. Help us understand the issues that are most urgent to your business via this survey or by emailing covidsupport@rec.uk.com. We'll take your questions and feedback directly to Ministers.


Sector specific support 

Construction
  • (03.07.20) CITB Levy - 50% cut for 2021 in addition to payment holiday

The CITB have announced further changes to levy payments for businesses (including recruiters). 

  1. 2020- 2021 -  the payment holiday has been extended to September 2020.
  2. 2021 – 2022 - the levy rate will be cut by 50%.

For both years, payments can either be met in full, or monthly payments can be made. The levy rate structure will return to normal from May 2022. More information here.

Drivers
  • (20.04.20) The Government has announced that bus and lorry drivers, whose licences are due to expire in 2020 or already expired this year, will be able to receive a temporary one-year driving licence without having to provide a medical report.
     
  • (20.04.20) The Government has announced a new loan scheme, the Future Fund, for high-growth start-ups impacted by the crisis. The new scheme will open in May. 
Education
  • 08.03.21 - Response from Nick Gibb, Minister of State for School Standards regarding the joint letter for supply teachers and other support staff

Following the joint letter regarding support for supply teachers and other support staff submitted to government by the REC, the TUC, NASUWT, NEU and Community, we have received this response from Nick Gibb, Minister of State for School Standards. The REC will continue to campaign on behalf of our members in the education sector for changes to be made to ensure supply staff and agencies have the support they need during this time.

  • 03.03.21 - Sector update for members in the education sector. 

With schools reopening and new guidance being published by the DfE, we have written an update for agencies operating in the education sector. This covers new information on testing and vaccines, as well as other updates from the DfE. Read the full blog here

 

  • 15.01.21 - Further support for supply teachers

    In addition to our own letter regarding this, the REC has also joined forces with NASUWT to write a further letter to Gavin Williamson regarding the ongoing issues with furloughing supply teachers. This is a crucial area where support is needed from the government, and by uniting with a union on this, we hope to highlight how important it is that changes are made to allow schools and supply teachers to access the furlough and other support schemes.
     

  • 08.01.21 - Further support for supply teachers

    The REC has also written to the Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, to highlight the need for further support for supply teachers and education supply chains following the decision to move schools to online teaching.
     

  • (23.02.2021) Update to the NHS Test and Trace Support Payment Scheme:

    Under the NHS Test and Trace Support Payment Scheme workers that have been asked to self isolate, that are on a low income, unable to work from home and who will lose income as a result (of having to self isolate) may be entitled to a payment of £500 from their local authority.

    When the scheme was first introduced one of the conditions for claiming the £500 support payment was that the individual must have been advised to self isolate by NHS Test and Trace.

The REC has been advised by BEIS that a change has been introduced to the scheme and individuals who are eligible can now claim the £500 where their employer has advised them to isolate.

Where individuals have been asked to self isolate by the school they are currently working in, the school should provide the individual’s personal details to NHS Test and Trace to allow them to provide the individual with an NHS Test and Trace Account ID, which will allow them to apply for the support payment from their Local Authority.

To support this, the Department for Health and Social Care has launched the Self-Isolation Service Hub (020 3743 6715), a phone line open 7 days a week, 8am to 8pm, allowing a school to provide contact details of those individuals who have been asked to self isolate.

The process is as follows:

  1. The school learns of a positive test for an individual within the school
  2. A staff member at the school should speak with the person(s) who have received a positive test and note their NHS Test and Trace Account Number
  3. The school determines which staff should self-isolate and informs the individuals.
  4. The school should collate the contact details of these individuals
  5. A staff member at the school contacts the self-isolation hub on 020 3743 6715 and provides the hub with
    1. The NHS Test and Trace Account ID of the individual who has tested positive for COVID-19
    2. The contact details of the individuals who have been asked to self-isolate
  6. NHS Test and Trace will then contact the individuals to formally advise them of their need to self isolate and provide them with an NHS Test and Trace Account ID
  7. Individuals who are not able to work from home and who are not being paid may claim for a self isolation payment through their local authority.

BEIS have confirmed that the procedure applies to ‘anyone on assignment in a school environment’, i.e. it includes supply teachers.

Workers that are eligible for the scheme will receive the payment on top of any other benefits or SSP that they currently receive - in line with the eligibility criteria.

The scheme will run until 31 January 2021.

  • (18.12.20) Preparing for the January term in schools

Earlier this week, the government announced that it will rollout weekly testing for schools that can be used for both teachers and pupils. This will help to ensure that schools are able to remain open and safe. Testing will not be mandatory, and there is no requirement for teachers to return negative in order to teach. It is currently unclear how the testing set-up will be applied to supply teachers who are not employed directly by the schools and are instead supplied via an agency. We have asked for clarity on this, and when more guidance is published we will make you aware of this.

As well as this, government guidance has also suggested that schools should minimise the number of supply teachers they use, as a way of limiting the risk of transmissions. The government has suggested that schools engage supply teachers on a longer-term basis to help with this. Agencies operating in this sector should be prepared for requests of this nature from schools, and could encourage schools to follow the government's guidance on this.

 

  • (17.09.20) Coronavirus update - supplying to public sector

    This note covers the extension that has been announced by the Government in regards to the Procurement Policy Note (PPN) published earlier this year concerning how public bodies can pay their suppliers during the coronavirus outbreak.​​​​​​
     

  • (04.08.20) Supply Teacher – Furlough over Summer holidays

    Over the last few months we have raised the issue of supply teacher furlough over summer holidays with HMRC and BEIS on multiple occasions and highlighted the inconsistencies in HMRC advice to REC members.

    HMRC have assured us that they now have a consistent approach to the issue and have agreed to let us publish their advice. Whilst we don’t think it provides the clarity needed, as it places the onus on your business making a commercial decision, we believe it is helpful for everyone to have access to this advice.

    Please contact us if you’ve received advice which you think is inconsistent with this and we will raise with HMRC immediately.

    HMRC advice sent by email to the REC, 3 August 2020 – Supply teacher furlough

    Employers can claim a grant under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for an employee if they were employed on 19 March 2020 and were on their employer’s PAYE payroll on or before 19 March 2020. The employee must agree to a furlough arrangement and must do no work for their employer.

    The decision to offer to furlough employees or participate in the scheme is down to the employer and their business requirements. 

    Employees can be on any type of employment contract, including full-time, part-time, agency, flexible or zero-hour contracts.

    The eligibility criteria for supply teachers is exactly the same as it is for all employees. The scheme has no restrictions for employers claiming for supply teachers who have been furloughed over school holidays.

     If an employee’s pay varies and they have been employed (or engaged by an employment business in the case of agency workers) for a full year, employers will claim for the higher of either:

    • The amount the employee earned in the same month last year

    • An average of their monthly earnings from the last tax year up until they were first furloughed​​​​​​

For employees whose pay varies and have been employed for less than a year, employers will claim for an average of their regular monthly wages since the employee started work up until the earlier of the end of the 2019-20 tax year and the date they were first furloughed.

For anyone that has been working for less than a month, the employer will pro-rata earnings from that month.

  • (24.06.20) We are aware that there have been increased member inquiries on whether supply teachers can be furloughed over the school holidays. The REC’s position remains as outlined in section 5.3 of the eighth version of our FAQ document on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Without HMRC clearly stating in their CJRS guidance whether or not they can be furloughed over school holidays, it remains a business decision for REC members to take. The REC has been seeking this update from HMRC but don’t think that government guidance will be updated.

    There have, however, been recent comments from Ministers that could be helpful for members making this decision. The Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Jesse Norman in response to a parliamentary question has outlined the following: “Agency supply teachers are eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme during the school summer holiday period, where they are otherwise eligible for the scheme.” In another parliamentary question, the Education Minister, Nick Gibb indicated that supply teachers can access the scheme until the end of October.

    By way of reminder, the government has confirmed that temporary agency workers engaged on contracts for services do not accrue holiday pay whilst on furlough (see 5.2 of our FAQ).
     

  • (23.06.20) The government has announced a ‘catch-up’ plan to address the impact on school children of lost teaching time. As part of this, there will be a National Tutoring Programme (NTP), which aims to increase access to tuition for disadvantaged young people over the 2020/21 academic year.

    According to the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), one of the creators of the scheme, there will be two pillars to the NTP – NTP Partners and NTP Coaches. In NTP Partners, schools will be able to access heavily subsided tuition from an approved list of tuition partners. According to EEF, the NTP will be opening funding calls to select tutoring organisations, such as charities and agencies already working with schools. The details for selection criteria are not published but there is more information on the EEF website.

     

  • (23.06.20) On June 17 the government published Keeping Children Safe in Education 2020.

    The new statutory guidance will come into effect on 1 September 2020 and at that point the current Guidance on Keeping Children Safe in Education 2019 will be withdrawn. The 2020 version contains some changes to the guidance and a full list of those changes can be found at p.115 of the document.

    Here we highlight some of the key changes relevant to agencies:

    Part one: Safeguarding information for all staff

    • Text added to make it clear that both mental and physical health are relevant to safeguarding and the welfare of children.

    • New paragraphs are included on mental health to help staff make the link between mental health concerns and safeguarding issues.

    • Concerns about staff are widened to explicitly include supply staff.

​​​​Part Four: Allegations of abuse made against teachers, and other staff, including supply teachers and volunteers

  • The responsibility on schools to manage allegations about supply teachers is made very clear, so they still ensure allegations are dealt with appropriately when they are not the employer (i.e. when the agency is the employer). It is made clear that schools hold a responsibility to fully explore concerns about supply staff and in those instances schools cannot simply cease to use the supply teacher.

  • Processes should be developed to manage this and the school should advise agencies of its process for managing allegations.

The inclusion of specific guidance on how schools should handle abuse allegations made against supply staff is welcomed as this is something that the REC has been calling on for some time.

At the beginning of 2020 the DfE embarked on a consultation around proposed changes to the guidance, however as a result of the coronavirus pandemic this was withdrawn. The published 2020 version has removed much of the text that was included in the draft version as ‘the DfE recognise the immense pressures on schools in the summer of 2020’.

It is presumed that DfE will deal with those proposed changes again further down the line once things settle down.
 

PPN 04/20 is an updated version of PPN 02/20, which recommended public sector employers continue to pay agency staff on long term assignments, who were unable to continue working due to Covid-19, 80% of their salary. PPN 04/20 recommends that contracting authorities “review their contingent worker requirements and, where assignments are identified as no longer required, plan to exit from these assignments at the appropriate time.”

Today is the effective deadline for any new entrants to the CJRS – 10 June. If your clients decide to discontinue payments under PPN you will not be able to furlough workers after today if they have not been furloughed previously. We therefore suggest getting in touch with clients urgently to check how long they intend to follow the Cabinet Office guidance.

  • (20.05.20) The REC has been advised by Crown Commercial Services and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy that agency workers in schools can be furloughed during usual school holiday periods. We have been seeking confirmation from HMRC but do not believe additional government guidance will be provided on this matter. Without additional clarification, furloughing over school holidays is a commercial decision that individual education members need to make.  
     
  • (29.04.20) The Department for Education has launched The Skills Toolkit, an online platform offering free numeracy and digital skills courses. These are available for everyone, with a collection of job-related online courses ranging from beginner to advanced levels. Policy Adviser, Chris Russell has written a blog on the toolkit, REC training courses, and the potential to use this time to develop new skills.
     
  • (21.04.20) The Department for Education has updated their coronavirus guidance for schools. This states clearly that schools should follow the Cabinet Office guidance, which outlines that schools should continue to pay agency workers who were on live assignments but cannot continue to work due to coronavirus.
     
  • (06.04.20) Updated guidance: Coronavirus – supplying to public sector. This guide looks at the recent announcements made by the Cabinet Office on public bodies continuing to pay their suppliers during the coronavirus outbreak.
     
  • (04.04.20) Coronavirus update – supplying to public sector - this guidance looks at the recent announcements made by the Cabinet Office on public bodies continuing to pay their suppliers during the coronavirus outbreak [Updated 06.02.20 - find it here.] 
     
  • We are aware that NASUWT has written to several members about Statutory Sick Pay for supply teachers. Please download our suggested template response (word doc).
     
  • (25.03.20) Coronavirus update for the education sector
     
  • Update from our legal team (23.03.20) Coronavirus Bill, Furlough payments, DBS ID checks, Right to work checks, REC Audited Education/ CCS 
     
  • Government guidance for educational settings
Healthcare
  • 14.04.21-Making vaccination a condition of deployment in older adult care homes

On 14 April 2021, the Department for Health and Social Care launched a five-week consultation on making vaccination a condition of deployment in older adult care homes. Government is considering amending the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014 so that older adult care home providers could only use those staff who have received the COVID-19 vaccination (or those with a legitimate medical exemption) in line with government guidance. The REC will be seeking member's views to respond to the consultation and you can find more information about it here

  • 08.03.21 - The Department of Health and Social Care issues an updated guidance on restricting workforce movement between care homes

The Department of Health and Social Care have issued updated guidance on restricting workforce movement between care homes. Care home providers have been asked to continue to limit all staff movement between settings unless absolutely necessary, to help reduce the spread of infection; this includes agency and other temporary staff. However, exceptions do apply where staff movement is unavoidable in order to meet the needs of people using the service and to maintain safe staffing levels.

 

  • (11.02.21) As of this morning, all health and social care workers who haven’t yet received their Covid-19 vaccine can now book their appointment direct with the National Booking Service – this includes agency and temp workers. At this stage it only applies to workers in health and social care settings, so teachers etc… are not yet eligible to use the service.
     

  • (18.11.20) Last Friday the government launched a consultation to ban temporary staff from moving between care homes in order to stop the spread of Covid-19. The REC believes this would severely damage the care system and could be catastrophic for an already depleted social care workforce. Furthermore, the government have only allowed one week for responses, and we are urgently calling on all recruiters who supply staff to the care sector to submit a response so the industry’s voice and first-hand knowledge of staffing the sector can be acted on.
     

  • (04.11.20) NHSE&I and Approved Framework - Guidelines for Supplier Community on COVID Risk Assessment Requirements

    In alignment to previously communicated DHSC, NHSE&I and approved framework guidelines for agency use during COVID-19,  further information has been produced to reinforce the importance of conducting robust individual risk assessments for bank and/or agency workers, and to outline requirements when providing services to Healthcare Providers. Find it here
     

  • (17.09.20) Coronavirus update - supplying to public sector

    This note covers the extension that has been announced by the Government in regards to the Procurement Policy Note (PPN) published earlier this year concerning how public bodies can pay their suppliers during the coronavirus outbreak.
     
  • (12.08.20) Guidance for trusts on the use of agencies during Covid-19 has been updated. PPN 02/20 is clear that payments should not be made to suppliers where there is no contractual volume commitment to supply; only workers on live assignments qualify for payment. As such, an agency worker who is unable to work due to COVID-19 for sickness, self-isolation or temporary closure of their workplace, will only qualify for payment under this guidance where they are undertaking a live, ongoing assignment, with evidence of a booking reference number. This new guidance supplements our COVID 19 - Additional guidance for the Health and Social Care sectors document.
     
  • (22.06.20) COVID 19 - Additional guidance for the Health and Social Care sectors

    This document supplements our guide to operating an agency in the health and social care sector which sets out the key issues to consider when operating as an employment agency or employment business in health or social care. This document provides additional guidance for recruiters supplying to the NHS and social care sector during the COVID 19 pandemic. In this supplementary document we discuss the temporary adjustments made to the existing legal and regulatory requirements that agencies must comply with to protect candidates, patients, and the public.

    Also see: Updated additional guidance for the Health & Social Care sectors, published September 2020. 
     
  • (10.06.20) The Cabinet Office has published Procurement Policy Note 04/20: Recovery and Transition from COVID-19 (PPN 04/20). On the back of this, the REC recommends members who have clients following this guidance to get in touch with them today.

    PPN 04/20 is an updated version of PPN 02/20, which recommended public sector employers continue to pay agency staff on long term assignments, who were unable to continue working due to Covid-19, 80% of their salary. PPN 04/20 recommends that contracting authorities “review their contingent worker requirements and, where assignments are identified as no longer required, plan to exit from these assignments at the appropriate time.”

    Today is the effective deadline for any new entrants to the CJRS – 10 June. If your clients decide to discontinue payments under PPN you will not be able to furlough workers after today if they have not been furloughed previously. We therefore suggest getting in touch with clients urgently to check how long they intend to follow the Cabinet Office guidance.
     
  • (28.04.20) We have pulled our immediate and longer term priorities for the health and social care sector into a brief manifesto document which outlines our key aims and messages as we work with the NHS and care sector during this critical time. Read the press release.
     
  • (08.04.20) New guide: Coronvirus update for the health and social sector - including information about REC's partnership with the NHS, Visas for NHS staff, right to work checks, DBS checks, EASI, Job Retention Scheme, SSP, and more!
     
  • (06.04.20) Updated guidance: Coronavirus – supplying to public sector. This guide looks at the recent announcements made by the Cabinet Office on public bodies continuing to pay their suppliers during the coronavirus outbreak.
     
  • (04.04.20) Coronavirus update – supplying to public sector - this guidance looks at the recent announcements made by the Cabinet Office on public bodies continuing to pay their suppliers during the coronavirus outbreak [Updated 06.02.20 - find it here.] 
     
  • (01.04.20) The Home Office and the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) have put temporary arrangements in place, to provide DBS checks and fast-track emergency checks of the Adults’ and Children’s Barred Lists free-of-charge. This will apply to healthcare and social care workers being recruited in connection with the provision of care and treatment of coronavirus in England and Wales, including some of those who have volunteered to help the NHS - find out more
     
  • (25.03.20) Healthcare recruiters - let's work in partnership with the NHS - blog from REC policy advisor Neal Suchak 
     
  • Government guidance for healthcare providers

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