Job Retention Scheme (Furlough)

A Job Retention scheme has been set up to cover 80 per cent of the salary of retained workers up to a total of £2,500 a month. This scheme will cover the cost of wages backdated to 1 March 2020, and has now been extended until October, however the government will ask companies to "start sharing" the cost of the scheme from August.

Employers currently using the scheme will then be able to bring furloughed employees back part-time.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/chancellor-extends-furlough-scheme-until-october

  • Your employer may apply for this grant, and employers are also able to top up salaries further if they choose to.
  • The employer will then have to claim the money via an HMRC portal that is to be set up
  • Check if you are eligible here https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-you-could-be-covered-by-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme
  • The online portal opened on 20 April with the first reimbursements expected on 30 April, this includes employees who were subject to the TUPE regulations to a new employer after 19 March
  • Workers need to have been on the payroll by 19 March - the day before the scheme was first announced. This will not cover people who were not put on the PAYE system until later in the month
  • Those engaged in work will have to agree to change their contract and will become furloughed workers. It is possible to take annual leave when on furlough, and it will be paid at full pay

Holiday pay when furloughed

  • Whilst furloughed you will continue to accrue leave as per your employment contract
  • You can take holiday whilst on furlough.
  • Working Time Regulations (WTR) require holiday pay to be paid at your normal rate of pay, or where your rate of pay varies, calculated based on the average pay you received in the previous 52 working weeks. Therefore, if you take holiday while on furlough, your employer should pay you your usual holiday pay in accordance with the WTR
  • Employers will be obliged to pay the additional amounts over the grant, though will have the flexibility to restrict when leave can be taken if there is a business need. This applies for both the furlough period and the recovery period
  • If you usually work bank holidays, then your employer can agree that this is included in the grant payment. If you usually take the bank holiday as leave, then your employer would either have to top up your pay to your usual holiday pay or give you a day of holiday in lieu

If your company goes into receivership

High Court has directed that the Administrators have to honour the employee's contracts and pay them the remaining 20 per cent of their wages: https://www.rightsnet.org.uk/employment/caselaw/item/high-court-considers-whether-administrators-of-a-company-that-has-furloughed-its-employees-pending-payments-from-the-cjrs-have-adopted

If you're off sick, told to stay home because of coronavirus or you need to look after dependents

  • Different employers may have different rules, so please speak to your employer and check out the guidance below
  • If employees need to provide evidence to their employer that they need to stay at home due to coronavirus, they will be able to get this online instead of having to get a fit note from their doctor. For more information on how to obtain this note go to https://111.nhs.uk/isolation-note/
  • Statutory Sick Pay will be payable to people who are staying at home on government advice, not just those who are infected from 13 March 2020, but only up to 1 August 2020
  • Employers are urged to use their discretion about what evidence, if any they ask for
  • Statutory Sick Pay will be available from day one rather than day four
  • Statutory Sick Pay is also now payable to those identified as vulnerable (from 16 April 2020) and at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus because of an underlying health condition, and who have been advised, in accordance with that guidance, to follow shielding measures rigorously. The guidance is available from the following websites:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/ (Public Health England).

https://www.acas.or.uk/coronavirus

https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/checking-your-employment-contract

The new Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme has now been launched enabling small and medium sized employers with fewer than 250 employees to apply to HMRC to recover the costs of paying coronavirus-related Statutory Sick Pay. Tax agents will also be able to make claims on behalf of their employers.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-back-statutory-sick-pay-paid-to-employees-due-to-coronavirus-covid-19?utm_source=http%3a%2f%2fnews.dwp.gov.uk%2fdwplz%2f&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Coronavirus+Touchbase+special+-+22+May+2020&utm_term=Coronavirus+Touchbase+special+-+22+May+2020&utm_content=10238

New guidance on employees working in the critical sector - classed as key workers has been published.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision

Workers who have not taken all their statutory annual leave entitlement due to Covid-19 will now be able to carry it over into the next two leave years.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/rules-on-carrying-over-annual-leave-to-be-relaxed-to-support-key-industries-during-covid-19

Returning to work

Following the announcement regarding returning to work from 13 May, guidance has been published to assist employers, businesses and their staff in staying open safely during coronavirus (COVID-19).

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19

If you have concerns or want to check your rights if you refuse to work because of safety concerns over coronavirus at your workplace.

https://www.hse.gov.uk/contact/concerns.htm

https://www.tuc.org.uk/blogs/can-i-refuse-work-because-coronavirus-we-explain-your-rights

Zero-hours contracts

If you are on a zero-hours contract and are not being asked to work at present, you will be able to access Universal Credit and the new Employment Support Allowance.

Benefit Cap

For residents who have been subject to the Benefit Cap and your job ends, or if your earnings reduce below the monthly earnings threshold the 'Grace Period' (when the Benefit Cap will not be applied for nine months) still applies. If you are capped seek advice immediately.

https://www.acas.org.uk/coronavirus

https://www.rightsnet.org.uk/welfare-rights/news/item/government-publishes-further-details-of-its-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

www.gov.uk/statutory-sick-pay

https://www.gov.uk/lay-offs-short-timeworking

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/guidance-for-employers-and-businesses-on-coronavirus-covid-19

https://www.gov.uk/welfare