COVID-19 - Employment Services Update
NHS SBS Employment Services (ES) COVID-19 Response - Frequently Asked Questions
Employee Service Desk - revised hours
We have taken the decision to revise the opening hours of our Employee Service Desk (ESD) from 8am-6pm (Monday to Friday) to 8am-5pm (Monday to Friday), until further notice to free up extra capacity within the team.
Although we are still accepting calls to ESD, we are asking employees with pay or pension enquiries to contact us via the CRM portal. We would be grateful if you could communicate this to your staff. Guidance on using the portal can be found here.
As the situation with COVID-19 develops we are reviewing how best to support our clients and ensure our core services are delivered. There are a number of points we need to make you aware of, and some actions required by your organisation:
Self-Isolation in response to COVID-19 reporting absence
|From Monday 6 July three new reasons will be added to the list of values in the absence screen so that self-isolation can be correctly reported. These are outlined in. Please note, this is only relating to non-sickness absence. Please ensure you update manager and staff so they can submit their absence details correctly.|
Payment of Occupational Sick Pay (OSP) and COVID-19 absence
|Full pay and unsocial hours payments are due to all NHS employees who are absent from work with COVID-19 symptons and/or self isolating. |
You should continue to submit your staff absence details to Payroll in the usual way but ensure you are stating the correct reason for sickness as outlined in the .
An average pay of unsocial hours will be payable automatically to employees who have recorded sickness absence as COVID-19 based on earnings over the last 12 months. This average payment will not include overtime payments. You will therefore need to inform Payroll if you want to include this.
|14/04/2020||Business continuity||Contact with Payroll and Pensions teams||All contact with the Payroll and Pensions teams now needs to be made via email to their Payroll team's shared mailbox. We cannot accept any incoming post.Your Payroll Manager should have made direct contact with you with details on how to send information to us. Any escalations should be addressed to your Payroll Manager or their deputy.|
|Tax arrangements for NHS staff and those returning to the NHS||Staff returning to the NHS to help during the pandemic|
Staff who rejoin the NHS will be treated like normal employees. Income Tax and National Insurance will be deducted as normal on all salary and overtime payments. All new and rejoining employees should be asked to complete a starter checklist at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/paye-starter-checklist
Staff who have received termination or redundancy payments
Rejoining staff may have received a termination payment at the end of their previous employment which may have been exempt from tax. The tax treatment of that payment does not change - no additional tax has to be paid on the previous termination or redundancy payment if returning to help during the pandemic.
More information can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/tell-hmrc-about-staff-who-return-to-work-for-nhs-trusts-and-local-authorities-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19
|Tax avoidance promoters targeting returning NHS workers||HMRC is aware of unscrupulous promotors of tax avoidance schemes targeting workers returning to the NHS. HMRC warns returning workers to be alert to what these schemes might look like and to be careful not to sign up to these schemes which it considers to be tax avoidance. More information can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/tax-avoidance-promoters-targeting-returning-nhs-workers-spotlight-54|
|Pay calculation affecting some employees on AfC bands 8 and 9||It has been identified that some staff in bands 8 and 9 who receive the consoldiated payment for the 2020/21 may have been partially underpaid in April 2020. This may have affected employees who receive an additional enhanced payment - Recruitment & Retention premia (RRP), on calls, unsocial hours etc. |
The ESR team is currently working on a solution and will notify Payroll when corrective action will be taken and retrospectively applied. Your Payroll Manager will provide an update to your directly of affected employees.
Further information can be found at: https://www.nhsemployers.org/news/2020/04/pay-calculation-issue-affecting-some-employees-in-bands-8-and-9
|Payment of Occupational Sick Pay (OSP) and COVID-19 absence||Full pay and unsocial hours payments are due to all NHS employees who are absent from work with COVID-19 symptons and/or self isolating. |
You should continue to submit your staff absence details to payroll in the usual way but ensure your are stating the correct reason for sickness.
An average pay of unsocial hours will be payable automatically to employees who have recorded sickness absence as COVID-19 based on earnings over the last 12 months. This average payment will not include overtime payments and you will therefore need to inform Payroll if you want to include this.
|ESR access and performance||IBM is providing regular updates over the performance of ESR and your Payroll Manager will contact you directly if there is any impact to the processing of your organisation's payroll. |
The most up to date information is available on ESR Information Point.
|Direct Earnings Attachments (DEA) deductions from pay||HMRC has published updated guidance for Direct Earnings Attachment (DEA) deductions - these are deductions made directly from employees' pay towards a debt/overpayment of benefits made by the Department of Work & Pensions (DWP). The updated guidance is in response to coronavirus and states: |
'DWP are writing to employers to ask them to temporarily stop benefit debt repayments. You should not make any DEA deductions to your employees' pay in April, May or June 2020. You will be told if this will be extended'
Please note HMRC is only advising on DEAs and not Deduction from Earnings Order (DEO), Attachments of Earnings Order (AEO) and Council Tax Attachment of Earnings Order (CTAEO). DEO, AEO And CTAEO all remain unchanged.
Your Payroll Manager will have been in touch with your organisation directly to confirm how payroll will manage all DEA deductions.
|Incoming post||We are working towards our workforce becoming fully home enabled and have been actively planning based on this scenario to ensure business continuity.|
In order to support home enablement we will not be able to accept paper in to our offices from Monday 6 April.
Action Required from your Organisation
Please communicate with your employees to inform them that workers who have previously sent in paper forms to us now need to email these. Your Payroll Manager will make direct contact with you with details of the mailboxes that have been specifically set up to manage this change.
This not only affects staff who are sending in completed timesheets and expenses forms; it is also relevant to:
• All absence-related leave (sickness, maternities etc.)
• Mortgage and financial references
• Benefit claims
|Employee Service Desk (ESD) opening times||The Employee Service Desk is now open from 8am till 5pm, Monday to Friday. It is operating as normal but experiencing a high volume of calls. The ESD Portal is an easier way of contacting Employment Services and we encourage you to direct your employees to: Self Service Portal|
Employees who have received no pay/less than 75% of their pay (Priority 1) are currently transferred by ESD to Payroll; however, we will be asking our call operatives to make direct contact with the Pay Clerk so the caller may have to be called back.
Priority 1 calls are monitored continually to ensure they are managed within the core service level agreements.
|Delivery of ESR Payslips - Action Required||User Notice 2873 informs of potential impact to courier and postal services due to COVID-19. The notice also asks organisations to ensure where offices have been temporarily closed/relocated, or your employees are home working, that ESR is updated to reflect the change.|
Please read the User Notice and update ESR accordingly.
We ask that employees requiring a copy of their payslip do not contact NHS SBS Employee Service Desk (ESD) or your Payroll team as our focus is priority queries and processing of payroll and pension data at this critical time.
UPDATE: We are receiving a significant number of payslips and P60s being returned as Royal Mail/Couriers have been unable to deliver due to office/site being closed. Please ensure the most up to date addresses are in ESR.
All our customer employees can view their payslips via the MySBSPay app which can downloaded from the Apple App/ Google Play stores. Please make your staff aware of this option.
|What happens if the Employee Service Desk cannot take calls?||If calls to the ESD cannot be taken by our employees there, they will be diverted to other employees. Queries can also be raised via the portal and these will be directed to the appropriate team for resolution.|
|How can clients help NHS SBS to continue to provide a business as usual payroll and pensions service?||Clients can really support us by adhering to payroll cut-off dates and only contacting us if the matter is urgent.|
To keep calls to our contact centre to a minimum, please encourage your employees to view their pay information on the MySBSPay app, which also has frequently asked questions to assist your staff. The call logging system enables NHS staff to leave voice mail messages, as well as logging queries directly via the portal, which automatically raises a case directly to the appropriate team.
|Will you still be able to provide a service if you suffer high levels of staff absence or office closure?||Our teams are located in three different geographic locations around the country and include a number of employees with transferrable skills who are ready and able to be reassigned as necessary.|
We have already enabled home-working to ensure key delivery activities are ring-fenced, e.g. BACS processing and payroll services.
In the event of reduced resource, we will also deprioritise some activities but will communicate in advance of any change to process.
For those clients where we undertake HR transaction activities, we may need to prioritise starters and leavers.
We will be monitoring the situation throughout each pay cycle and invoking any contingency measures as and when they are needed.
|Can we have a copy of your Business Continuity Plan (BCP)?||Our BCP covers all our customers and is not client specific. We will not therefore be sharing the BCP with individual clients. However, please be assured that we are taking all the necessary steps to ensure business continuity.|
|What steps have you already taken to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on Employment Services?||We have implemented daily director-led business continuity calls with all of our sites to identify and address any capacity issues. This includes a live skills matrix so that staff resource can be diverted quickly and appropriately to ensure service continuity and flexibility. Additional training is also being carried out where it is required to upskill members of our Payroll and Pensions teams.|
|Can Employment Services help with any other tasks?||If a client asks for support with specific tasks and we have the skills, we will consider each request at the time. Our priority at present is delivering our core services to all our clients and we will not do anything that could put this at risk.|
|What will happen about salary overpayment recoveries?||Your Payroll Manager will have asked you on how your organisation wants to approach overpayment recoveries for existing employees. Please can you liaise directly to confirm.|
|Payment of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for COVID-19||From 13 March 2020, SSP will be payable on the first day of sickness absence in line with the recent change in legislation to help employees and workers who are affected by coronavirus, COVID-19 and related symptoms.|
User Notice 2870 informed you that ESR has been updated to accommodate this change in legislation; however, for SSP payments to be assessed in ESR there is a manual override that needs to be followed to ensure correct payment and reporting.
Your organisation needs to provide Payroll details of all employees and workers who are off sick with COVID-19 and/or related symptoms so that the manual override can be applied.
If your organisation uses Self Service and Rostering interfaces you still need to inform Payroll as otherwise these systems will not calculate SSP correctly.
|Rehire of Ex-employees - Information||User Notice 2878 details the benefits of using the Rehire functionality in ESR. Where there are plans to re-employ employees who used to previously work for your organisation, using the Rehire functionality saves input time and ensures the correct information is captured for HMRC and NHS Pensions.|
|We have increased recruitment and have additional staff on our payrolls. Will you be able to cope with this additional capacity?||If you are anticipating increased volumes, please liaise with your Payroll Manager. You can help us to help you by agreeing standard templates for data input with your Payroll Manager and adhering to the agreed deadlines.|
|COVID-19 and Re-employed Pensioners - Information||NHS Pensions has provided information in regard to relaxing some of the rules around being re-employed for retired employees.|
The government is currently proposing emergency powers to help deal with a potential COVID-19 outbreak. The UK Government's Coronavirus Action Plan, published 3rd March, set out measures to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak that are reasonable, proportionate and based on the latest scientific evidence.
The plan also envisaged that changes to legislation might be necessary in order to give public bodies across the UK the tools and powers they need to carry out an effective response to this emergency. A key area of this legislation enables action to increase the available health and social care workforce by removing barriers to allow recently retired NHS staff and social care workers to come back to work and tackle the outbreak.
The legislation announced on 17th March will temporarily suspend the 16-hour rule which currently prevents staff who return to work after retirement from the 1995 NHS Pension Scheme from working more than 16 hours per week in the first four weeks after retirement. It will also suspend abatement for special class status holders in the 1995 Scheme, as well as the requirement for staff in the 2008 Section and 2015 NHS Pension Scheme to reduce their pensionable pay by 10% if they elect to 'draw down' a portion of their benefits and continue working.
These measures will allow skilled and experienced staff who have recently retired from the NHS to return to work, and they will also allow retired staff who have already returned to work to increase their commitments if required, without having their pension benefits suspended. This will provide valuable capacity to the NHS should it be needed.
A further statement from NHS Pensions is on the following link: https://www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/covid-19-contingency-planning-employers
|Death in Service Benefits for the NHS Pensions Scheme||NHS Employers Factsheet which shows an overview of death in service options:|
NHS Pensions Survivors guide:
NHS Pensions Nomination Forms:
Members should complete relevant form and send directly to NHS Pensions.
If married or in a civil partnership they don't need to nominate - unless they wish to add someone else.
Opting back into the scheme
Employees should contact NHS SBS via the Portal and state they wish to re-join.
Cancelling or delaying retirement
Employees should contact NHS SBS via the Portal or email Pensions Team
Further clarification on the retire and return scenario
|NHS Pensions Rebanding||End of Year/Start of Year for NHS Pension rebanding will be staggered over April and May. Your payroll manager will contact you directly when your organisation is due to go through this process.|
Our business continuity activities mean it may not be possible to perform the rebanding exercise on a monthly basis during this time. If this becomes the case we will let you know.