Following announcements on 31 October 2020 and 5 November 2020 by the government, employers will have to review their plans after it was announced that nation would have a lockdown until 2 December 2020 and that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough) will be extended (at this stage until the end of March 2021, but later extended to the end of April 2021).
We have summarised the key points for you below so you can consider your position…
Can my business remain open?
Most non-essential services and retailers have been ordered to close until 2 December 2020. This includes leisure activities, non-essential retail shops, entertainment venues and all personal care venues including hairdressers and beauticians. Manufacturing, construction and educational settings can remain open.
Employees, where possible, must work from home. But where this is not possible – for example in the construction or manufacturing sectors – then the workplace needs to be Covid-secure.
Has the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme been extended?
The Government initially extended from it’s original end on 31 October 2020, until the four-week lockdown finished in December 2020. However, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has now further been extended (at the time of the lockdown this was until 31 March 2020, it’s now been extended until the end of April 2021). The Scheme continues with fundamentally the same conditions as applied in August.
Take a look at our full guide on furlough here.
I had informed my employees we were moving to the Job Support Scheme – What do I do now?
The Job Support Scheme will not commence in November as planned and it remains to be seen whether it’s ever introduced with the CJRS now running until the end of April 2021. If you want to furlough your employees to benefit from the Job Retention Scheme you would need to write to them explaining this; be sure to include how their pay will be affected and obtain their agreement to being furloughed. The government will confirm shortly when claims can be made for employee wages. The government has confirmed there will be no gap in eligibility between the previous Job Retention Scheme and this extension.
I’ve not used the Job Retention Scheme before; can I use it now?
If an employee was on your payroll and employed by Friday 30 October 2020 then you will be able to use the scheme.
I’ve made staff redundant, what can I do?
As per government guidance, you can re-employ employees who have been made redundant if they were employed and on your payroll on 23 September 2020. You can then furlough them making a claim under the JRS. This would also apply to employees who stopped working because their fixed term contract ended. However, you do need to consider what will happen to redundancy payments made, any additional holidays paid as well as any pay in lieu of notice paid. There is also the statutory presumption of continuity of service to be considered too. It is worth getting expert legal advice on this before you take any further steps.
If you are making redundancies with furloughed employees you should still base any statutory redundancy and notice pay on their normal wage, not the amount they receive on furlough. You can continue to claim for a furloughed employee who is serving their statutory notice period, but the government is reviewing this and have said there will be changes effective from 1 December. These changes are due to be announced late November 2020.
Can employees still work whilst on the Job Retention Scheme?
During the hours which employees are recorded as being on furlough, they cannot work. This means employees should not be doing any work that makes money or provides services for their employer or any organisation linked or associated with their employer. They can however take part in training courses, volunteer for another employer or organisation or even work for another employer if their contract allows them to do that.
What will my contributions need to be?
At the time of writing, you will pay the employer National Insurance and pension contributions on the furloughed wages.
What about employees with health conditions making them higher risk should they catch coronavirus?
Employees classed as clinically vulnerable have been advised to be careful in following the lockdown rules and minimise contact where they can. Clinically extremely vulnerable employees have been advised to work from home if they can, but where this is not possible, they may be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).
The NHS website has a list of conditions which would be classed as clinically vulnerable or clinically extremely vulnerable.
How can Loch Associates Group help?
If you need any assistance with understanding, implementing or managing any aspects of the extended furlough scheme and future Job Support Scheme, then do not hesitate to get in touch.