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Friday, 24 April 2020 13:09

Beyond Furlough - More FAQs

Monday (20th April) saw the launch of the Government portal for re-claiming employment costs for furloughed workers under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). Over 140,000 companies accessed the portal to make claims on the first day alone and there seems to have been a largely positive response. Fears of the system being overwhelmed are apparently unsubstantiated.

If you are yet to access the portal to make any claims, your best starting point is probably at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wages-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

A point of note however is that if you, as an employer, receive the Employers National Insurance allowance (increased to £4,000 for the 2020/21 tax year), then this will affect how much Employer’s NI you can claim for under the scheme. In other words, the Government will not fund Employer’s NI twice, and you may need to make an adjustment to your claim.

With this major element of the CJRS largely under control, we have received a new tranche of enquiries, mostly in regard to managing workers returning from furlough or having their furlough extended. We have distilled these down into a number of FAQs below.

Q. I need some of my employees to end their furlough and return to work. How do I do this?
A. You should write to confirm they are required to recommence work and the date they are required to return, even if you are asking them to resume duties from home. It’s okay to un-furlough only part of your workforce if perhaps you require certain skills. If you want to un-furlough say, 50% of a team that does the same job, make sure you do so fairly and without any exposure to discrimination claims. Consider those who are shielding and have childcare issues. We have a letter for this in our toolkits.

Q. Can I furlough employees again after they have been un-furloughed?
A. Yes. You might ask a furloughed employee to return for a few days or weeks to complete some maintenance or run specific tasks. You can then furlough them again. This might also be a solution if you only need part of your workforce furloughed and you want to swop who is furloughed and who is working. Just remember the minimum furlough period is three weeks.

Q. How do I extend furlough for employees?
A. This might depend upon the wording you used when you furloughed them in the first place. If you did not specify an end date to the furlough period, then there’s nothing to worry about. If you said something like the initial furlough period would be three weeks and then reviewed, you should write to confirm that it has been extended. You’ll want to show continuity of furlough from the original date if you are extending so that you meet the three-week minimum. We have a letter for this in our toolkits.

Q. It sounds like my business won’t be back to normal for many months. How long can I furlough staff for?
A. The initial CJRS stated a 12-week furlough period, extended to 16 weeks. As with everything else during the pandemic, this will be up for review so if you need to, continue to furlough for this period. We expect an announcement from the Government about any extension to the scheme, or otherwise, as we near the end of the 16 weeks.

Q. I still don’t know what I should be doing about holidays for staff on furlough.
A. Neither does anyone else. This is still an area that remains subject to clarification, however holiday should continue to accrue during furlough because it’s a statutory right. The Government has changed the law to say that un-taken statutory holiday can be carried over the next two years, but we believe this is to ensure that key workers don’t lose holiday they are unable to take. We still advise that you can give notice to furloughed workers to take holiday whilst they are furloughed. You must top up their salary to their usual full pay however for any days taken as holiday days.

These FAQ’s are just a summary of some of the more frequent questions we have been getting. For more detailed and specific support, we’re available as usual on 01452 331331 or via e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Read 438 times Last modified on Friday, 24 April 2020 13:16

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