The furlough scheme will close to ‘new’ people from 30th June. From this point you can only furlough those employees that have been furloughed for a minimum of 3 full weeks prior to the 30th June, so the latest a new person can have been furloughed is 10th June – you cannot add anyone after 10th June
From 01 July you can agree with any furloughed employees (who have been furloughed at least from 10/06/20) that they can be brought back to work for any amount of time and be paid furlough pay for normal hours not worked – called flexible furlough (another term to remember now 😊). An example – Fred, a full time employee normally working 5 days a week, has been furloughed by HR Limited from 23rd March. HR Limited agree with him that he returns to work from 01/07/20 working 3 days per week. HR Limited pay him full pay for the 3 days per week and he is paid the furlough pay for the 2 days per week (at the rates now set). The Government says further detail on the flexible furlough scheme will be released on 12th June.
As flexible furlough is a ‘new’ scheme, you have to agree it with the employee, even if the employee agreed the previous furlough, and confirm in writing to them – you don’t have to have signed agreement back now
June and July: The Government will pay the rates that have been paid, i.e. 80% up to the cap of £2.5k (for July onwards if they have not worked any hours in that month) plus Employer NIC and pensions contributions
August: The Government pay the 80% up to the cap of £2.5k but NOT the Employer NIC/pension – you have to pay for that
September: The Government will pay 70% up to a cap of £2187.50. Employers have to pay the 10% to make it to 80% (or the £312.50 if the cap is there) PLUS the Employer NI/Pension
October: The Government will pay 60% up to a cap of £1875. Employers have to pay the 20% to make it to 80% (or the £625 if the cap is there) PLUS the Employer NI/Pension
There is some detail in this (and the Treasury Directive below) on how to calculate, periods to claim for etc so check that too
Treasury Direction on the CJRS
Issued 22nd May, but dated 20/05/20, this updates the scheme for grants made from that date. However, it covers 20/05/20 to 30/06/20 so there will be further updates needed as the scheme is not until 31/10/20. Most of the changes are where the original Direction conflicted with the ‘Guidance’ on-line and they now should match.
The previous Direction said you had to have written agreement from the employee to be furloughed. This is updated to that you should have sent the employee written confirmation of the agreement they have made (and keep that confirmation until June 2025) – or can be covered in a collective agreement with a Trade Union.
The employer and employee can agree to end a period of SSP in order to start furlough whereas before it said SSP had to be exhausted first and where the alternative was redundancy.
Confirmation you cannot furlough someone who was on unpaid leave at any time between 01 March and 30 June 2020
Director duties – it isn’t work, and ok to do whilst on furlough if you are making a claim for employees via CJRS or paying employee wages or carrying out duties as a Trustee or Manager of an occupational pension scheme
Study and training – an employee who is furloughed can now study or do training to improve their effectiveness as an employee or the performance of the business, as long as it does not contribute to business activities, generate income/profit or produce goods/services for sale
Reference salary to calculate the 80% - benefits provided via salary sacrifice are not included but non-discretionary variable payments such as fees, commission and overtime can be claimed (only if they arise from a legally enforceable agreement)
This has now been introduced but the question was, if an employee is contacted by this service (which is run by the NHS) and told to self-isolate for 14 days, what is that absence treated as and does it entitle the person to SSP…..and the answer is yes, if the person cannot work from home, they are absent and entitled to be paid SSP if they qualify (e.g. earn at least £120 per week)
At the beginning of this people who were aged 70+, or who were pregnant or who had an underlying medical condition were told it was best to self -isolate; if you were advised by your GP or NHS111, this entitled you to SSP. Not long after, we had two groups:
Vulnerable – aged 70+, pregnant and with an underlying medical condition – and they were told to socially distance and stay at home if they could etc
Extremely vulnerable – these were people with specific medical conditions like cancer or women with a heart condition. This group was advised to shield, i.e. not leave the house, not have anyone visit etc. This group received a letter from the NHS
Self-isolation and shielding were due to last 12 weeks, i.e. to mid-June. However, this has now been extended to end June and those shielding can from today, have a visit outside with one person – we’re also aware of people who received shielding letters in early May and also that some people are being taken off shielding by text more recently. Those who are vulnerable or extremely vulnerable have to make decisions about which they are comfortable so don’t be surprised if you have different people with different wishes.
Those who are shielding, and who cannot work from home, cannot return to work without medical confirmation to do so. We’ve had a couple of clients where shielded people have asked.
Those who are vulnerable could return to work outside of the home, but you would need to take this into account with any risk assessment and make that decision then.
With either of these, check in with your Employer’s Liability Insurance as you could inadvertently invalidate your insurance and that is not good
Hurrah went the sound from many parents about the news that schools were due to return on 01 June but, as an employer, don’t think things are back to normal. There are only certain age groups being allowed back (and it differs geographically), some returns have been delayed (for example Weston has delayed by a week due to the situation with the hospital there) and some parents won’t be happy with their child returning to school and may not do so (and that’s not for you or I to judge – it is their call).
So…continue to be aware that some employees are also trying to care for children/home schooling etc whilst also working from home and make allowances.
Update as of 12 May 2020
On 12 May, the UK Government announced that the Furloughing scheme to pay wages of workers on leave because of coronavirus will be extended to October.
Employees will continue to receive 80% of their monthly wages up to £2,500 and the government will ask companies to "start sharing" the cost of the scheme from August.
A quarter of the workforce, some 7.5 million people, are now covered by the scheme, which has cost £14bn a month. The current scheme will have no changes to it until the end of July
The chancellor said that from August, the scheme would continue for all sectors and regions of the country but with greater flexibility to support the transition back to work.
Employers currently using the scheme will then be able to bring furloughed employees back part-time.
Full details to be released by the end of May.
It is clear that where businesses can carry out work from home they should still continue to do so.
We have been notified of HR updates to the Government and ACAS advice. Here are a few examples that may be helpful for your science centres:
Holidays can be taken during furlough but should be paid at full pay – and don’t forget we’ve just had 2 bank holidays so ensure furlough pay for those is correct with 2 days at full pay.
Someone who cannot work due to childcare can be furloughed if they would otherwise be made redundant.
People cannot carry out work whilst on furlough – but that now includes for any linked or associated companies to you.
People can only be on furlough or receiving SSP not both – so if you have a situation where everyone (including those on sickness absence) will be furloughed or otherwise be made redundant, you can move those on SSP to furlough, but this is your choice (but remember for most organisations SSP is not recoverable).
Sensibly it has been clarified those who TUPE’d to you post (was 28/02/20) 19/03/20 can be furloughed - as their service transfers with them so they are not really a ‘new’ employee.
You may want to do a payroll reconciliation of furlough claim and pay – sure you all will – as HMRC have said all the furlough pay must go to the employee, as it should, so would be an issue if through some error the two amounts are not the same!
Specific advice on claiming:
An employer must have created and started a PAYE payroll scheme on or before 19th March 2020 – the person has to employed from 28/02/20 still – and you can only claim for furloughed employees that were on your PAYE payroll on or before 19th March 2020 and which were notified to HMRC on an RTI submission on or before 19th March 2020.
A pregnant employee who starts maternity and has been self-isolating or furloughed may see an impact on SMP etc – it was thought those would be unaffected but appears not so now. (the time when SMP is decided is when the woman is 18-25 pregnant).
Where employers receive public funding for staff costs, and that funding is continuing, then the Government expects employers to use that funding and not furlough staff. This also applies to non-public sector employers who receive public funding for staff costs.
Similarly, organisations who receive public funding to provide services that are necessary to respond to the coronavirus are not expected to furlough staff.
28th February and Furlough
Employees who were on your payroll on 28 February and have subsequently left can ask you to re-hire them and then place them on furlough leave – we recommend you consider this carefully and are happy to advise on each individual case; in the meantime, things for you to consider:
The reason they left e.g. if they left on good terms for another job however that employer has now had to rescind the offer due to the impact of COVID19, that may be reasonable. But, if they left ‘amicably’ because you ‘parted ways on good terms’ due to their unsatisfactory performance, you may not wish to consider.
Whether they would become eligible for redundancy pay should you reinstate and then have to make redundancies further down the line as government guidelines are currently not clear on whether they would retain their continuity of service.
Employees are allowed to get another job if they are furloughed (just not do any work for you); most contracts will stipulate they can’t work for another company so you may want to consider waiving this clause temporarily.
Employees are allowed to volunteer whilst on furlough leave, for other companies or you, but can’t provide services or generate revenue for you.
We have already clarified that if an employee is shielding i.e. has a letter from the NHS, then they could be furloughed – however when this was first announced it was ‘they should be’ and now the Government guidance is ‘they can be’ as an alternative to redundancy.
Anyone who is living with someone who is shielding originally could only claim SSP, however this has now changed and they can be furloughed too subject to the otherwise being made redundant. We would recommend that you request a copy of the shielding letter for the person they live with for your records but remember GDPR as you will have someone else’s personal sensitive data. Please remember that this should not be backdated i.e. you need to agree furlough with the employee and therefore they should remain on their current arrangement until this ‘new’ agreement is confirmed in writing.
Apprentices – if any of your employees are apprentices, they can be furloughed the same as other employees (they usually have separate protection from redundancy). If their training provider continues to provide training for them whilst on furlough, you need to pay them at least the Apprenticeship Minimum Wage for any hours spent training. A reminder that AMW increased to £4.15 from 6th April 2020.
If employees cannot work due to caring responsibilities e.g. looking after children or an elderly relative, they can be furloughed. The Government guidance seems to suggest this can happen even if it is not an alternative to redundancy but this can’t be right bearing in mind the other guidance (and why would carers get automatically whereas those shielding can no longer get automatically?). Whilst this is not confirmed we believe the over-riding principle of the scheme is to furlough people as an alternative to redundancy but are awaiting further clarity from Government.
It is important to remind you that:
You don’t have to furlough if there is a business need for work to continue.
Working from home, reduced pay and/or hours & pay are still options available to you and should absolutely be used where needed. Those who are self-isolating because they have symptoms should remain on SSP or company sick pay.
Also to advise you that HMRC have reserved the right to retrospectively audit any company in the future.
All employees must receive written confirmation that they have been furloughed and a record of this communication must be kept for five years.
Due to GDPR, previously we advised to keep personnel records for two years after an employee leaves (the length of time required for verifying documents proving their right to work in the UK) – in light of COVID19 and HMRC’s guidelines, these records will now need to be kept for five years.
Updated on Friday 27th March 2020
The details were published on March 26th 2020, and are on the Government website:
The online service you’ll use to claim is not available yet. They expect it to be available by the end of April 2020.
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is a temporary scheme open to all UK employers for at least three months starting from 1st March 2020. It is designed to support employers whose operations have been severely affected by coronavirus (COVID-19).
Employers can use a portal to claim for 80% of furloughed employees’ (employees on a leave of absence) usual monthly wage costs, up to £2,500 a month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on that wage. Employers can use this scheme anytime during this period.
The scheme is open to all UK employers that had created and started a PAYE payroll scheme on 28 February 2020.
Key parts, summarised by our HR consultant:
Those on furlough should be paid 80% of wage (as at 28/02/20 or there are rules for calculating if pay is variable or employee not long started) or £2500 pcm
If 80% is less than NMW/NLW that’s ok as they are not working
The pay is subject to tax and NI
Employer can claim the 80% or £2500 pcm PLUS employer’s NI and auto-enrolment pension contributions
The employee has to have been on your payroll as at 28th February 2020
If employees are on reduced hours, this is not furlough
The employee cannot work for you in this period – they can undertake training but if that training is on-line courses they should also be paid NMW for those hours
The 80% will have no impact on SMP – so even if paid at 18-25 weeks pregnant when SMP is paid, the woman should be paid at 90% of normal wage
Those who have been told by the NHS to ‘shield’, so they would have had letter, can be furloughed
Those who are sick/self-isolation cannot be furloughed, but they can when the 7 or 14 days is up and sick leave/self-isolation is over. If people are self-isolating due to age/maternity/underlying condition but not shielding it appears cannot be furloughed.
Training for furloughed employees
The Government has set out these guidelines on training:
Once you are on furlough you will not be able to work for your employer. You can undertake training or volunteer subject to public health guidance, as long as you’re not:
making money for your employer or a company linked or associated to your employer
providing services to your employer or a company linked or associated to your employer
If workers are required to, for example, complete training courses whilst they are furloughed, then they must be paid at least their appropriate minimum wage (NLW, NMW or AMW) for the time spent training, even if this is more than the 80% of their wage that will be subsidised.
Whilst furloughed your employer cannot ask you to do work for another linked or associated company.
Can Furloughed employees volunteer for your charity?
At the moment, the answer to this is no.
However, given all our members are charities, and focus on doing good and supporting communities, their work is needed now more than ever.
The CEO of ASDC proposes we ask the Chancellor direct as well as through BEIS to re-examine this rule, for the good of society.
We are aware that many of you have already undertaken your HR process and furloughing staff has begun, many from Friday 27 March. You will have made arrangements with them about their time away. The furlough is very generous and allows centres to not immediately make redundancies but to keep paying staff so that they can spring back into action when centres re-open.
You have had to show their jobs would have been made redundant in order for them to recieve the furloughed pay, thus we would want to ask for either an exception for charities to this rule, or for volunteering staff to be doing a different role, for example from front of house and delivering science shows to schools and the public, to working from home developing new content for future shows, and providing science activities for families through new and expanded digital channels.
At this point we would be suggesting 50% -80% of time volunteered, depending on discussions with individual staff members, and if the staff member has already been furloughed.
The ASDC CEO will update on this at the next National Coranvirus Response Zoom call on Wednesday.
Please note, all the information on this page is as a guide only. You will of course need to check with a local expert for your own organisation before taking any action.