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April, 2020

Holiday possible during furlough – but that’s not the last word…

Posted on: April 22nd, 2020 by Ginny Hallam

The government have confirmed that employees can take holiday during furlough. Allowing them to do so will not prejudice your right to reimbursement under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).

But that’s not likely to be the government’s last word on holidays so tread carefully and don’t over promise. Here’s what you need to know as things currently stand:

  • An employee can take holiday during furlough and continues to accrue holiday during furlough. This applies to bank holidays and statutory minimum holidays
  • If they take holiday their pay for each day’s holiday should be 100% of ‘normal pay’ – you’ll receive the 80% CJRS contribution (up to the £2500 monthly cap) in respect of that day’s holiday but you’ll be required to top up the rest (see our FAQs on how to calculate holiday pay for furloughed employees)
  • The guidance and Treasury Directive has remained silent on whether you can require employees to use their holiday during furlough so you cannot assume that enforced holiday will be reimbursed. You are entitled to decline holiday requests if business needs mean you can’t accommodate them
  • The government has included a caveat (a large one at that!) to say they ‘are keeping the policy on holiday pay during furlough under review’, meaning there remains the possibility of an about turn at your expense
  • Clearly if you want to avoid being out of pocket in respect of holidays you could require employees to postpone holidays until just before or just after a furlough period. Alternatively you could agree with your furloughed employees to reduce their holiday entitlement and/or holiday pay (provided that you don’t fall below statutory minimums)

If you don’t already have access to our FAQs document (£250+VAT), click here and we’ll send you across a copy. It’s over 45 questions with detailed answers, guidance and insight on the Scheme and the employment law you’ll need to consider.

Government guidance regarding coronavirus is continually updating. This update was produced on 22 April 2020 and is accurate and compliant with government guidance at the time of production.

Job Retention Scheme – what’s changed?

Posted on: April 20th, 2020 by Ginny Hallam

The government has updated and clarified aspects of it’s guidance for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). Here’s the headlines:

  • The scheme is now in place until the end of June (previously May 31 2020)
  • Employees can take holiday during furlough and this won’t stop you claiming under the scheme, but you’ll need to pay any additional amounts over what is being reimbursed under the scheme to bring that employee up to their ‘normal pay’ for each day of their holiday (bear in mind the government has said the policy on holiday during furlough is being ‘kept under review’…)
  • You can now furlough employees who were on your PAYE payroll on, or before, 19 March 2020 (previously 28 February 2020), providing HMRC has received an RTI submission notifying them of a payment to that employee on, or before 19 March 2020
  • Rehired employees that stopped working for you or were made redundant after 28 February 2020 can be furloughed (they must have been on your payroll on 28 February 2020)
  • You can’t claim SSP whilst claiming under the CJRS – sick employees can be furloughed, and it’s up to you whether you move them to SSP (or company sick pay) or keep them on furlough, but if you move them to SSP (or company sick pay) you must pay those payments
  • The calculation for 80% of salary should be based on their gross salary in the last pay period before 19 March 2020
  • The entirety of the reimbursement must be paid to the employee, with none netted off to cover benefits or salary sacrifice schemes – non-monetary benefits will not be reimbursed under the Scheme
  • Furloughed employees can take a second job with another employer so long as it’s not linked to your business (such as working for a group company)
  • Those on a work visa can be furloughed providing they meet the usual criteria
  • A portal has been created for employees and the public to report any suspected fraudulent use of the Scheme

Click here if you’d like to discuss anything contained in this update with our team of expert employment lawyers.

Government guidance regarding coronavirus is continually updating. This update was produced on 20 April 2020 and is accurate and compliant with government guidance at the time of production.

Open now: CJRS claims portal

Posted on: April 20th, 2020 by Ginny Hallam

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme online portal is open now for you to claim payments made to furloughed employees. Click here to access.

HMRC expect first payments to be made on 30th April, after which, payments are expected four to six working days after you’ve made an application. Before making a claim you’ll need a Government Gateway ID and password, and:

  • Be registered for PAYE online
  • UK bank account number and sort code
  • Your employer PAYE scheme reference number
  • Number of employees being furloughed
  • Each employee’s National Insurance number
  • Each employee’s payroll or employee number
  • Start and end date of the claim
  • The full amount you’re claiming for including NI contributions and employer minimum pension contribution (click here for guidance on how to calculate)
  • Your phone number
  • Either one of the following – Corporation Tax unique taxpayer reference, Self Assessment unique taxpayer reference, company registration number

The number of furloughed employees you’re claiming for under the scheme makes a difference to the claim:

More than 100 employees – you’ll need to upload a file containing all the information below for each employee in one of the four accepted file formats (.xls .xlsx .csv .ods)

  • Full name
  • National Insurance Number
  • Payroll number (optional)
  • Furlough start date
  • Furlough end date (if known)
  • Full amount claimed

100 employees or less – all required information for each employee must be input directly into the portal

Government guidance regarding coronavirus is continually updating. This update was produced on 20 April 2020 and is accurate and compliant with government guidance at the time of production.

Returning to a new kind of normal

Posted on: April 16th, 2020 by Ginny Hallam

Whether it’s a temporary return to work, a skeleton workforce or you’re able to return to business as usual, we explore how to secure a successful return to work-life after furlough including:

Capturing ‘return to work’ arrangements in writing

By putting employees on furlough leave, you will have made temporary changes to their employment status. You’ll need to write to confirm the end of their furlough leave, what terms will apply on their return, and details of any measures that will remain in place.

We’ve created a template ‘letter ending furlough’ click here for more information.

Changes to contractual terms on return

Bear in mind that where you’re making changes to contractual terms, you’ll need to obtain employees’ consent to do so alongside offering something in return for the change. Failure to do so may lead to claims that you’ve breached trust and confidence, entitling the employee to resign and pursue an unfair dismissal claim.

Deciding who returns to work / stays on furlough

As an employer, it’s your choice. Remember to ensure that any criteria you apply is not discriminatory, and if it is, that you can objectively justify the decisions you’re making (not easy to do in practice, so be sure to take advice). Selection which considers factors such as child-care or dependant responsibilities, experience or sickness absence records, is likely to be discriminatory.

Creating safe working practices

Many employees will be concerned about their safety upon returning to work. Communicate with employees and managers about safety measures you’re taking and consider implementing and updating any ‘return to work’ and home working policies. Click here for more information.

Keeping your options open to ‘re-furlough’

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, employers have the flexibility to take employees on and off furlough – just remember that each period of furlough has to last for a minimum of three weeks in order for you to claim under the scheme and that currently the scheme ends on 31st May 2020.

Dealing with those reluctant to return to work

Whether it’s because of child-caring responsibilities, fears around safety or just enjoying the good weather, employees may want to remain at home. However, the decision as to who stays on furlough or returns to work is entirely yours. Any failure to return to work can be dealt with under your usual formal processes and any non-attendance can be unpaid.

Three week furlough periods

Don’t forget that furlough periods have to be at least three weeks in duration for you to be able to claim a reimbursement under the Job Retention Scheme. You’ll want to ensure that you’ve checked in respect of each returning employee whether you’ll lose out on the government reimbursement in asking them to work again.

Click here if you’d like to discuss anything in this update with us in more detail.

Government legislation and guidance regarding coronavirus is continually updating. This update was produced on 16 April 2020 and is accurate and compliant with government guidance at the time of production.

Supporting human be-ins

Posted on: April 16th, 2020 by Ginny Hallam

It’s tricky keeping teams motivated and safe – even more so if they’re furloughed and you’re treading the careful line between caring for them and following the government furlough rules. Communication is key to checking everyone is safe, sharing and strong. Don’t forget…

  • Healthy means happy – why not share healthy store cupboard recipe ideas (or even host a cook-along!), do an exercise or yoga class together, or take on a team exercise challenge to raise a few pounds for the NHS or local charity? Endless possibilities.
  • Take on the tech – Zoom, Microsoft Teams…we’re all experts by now! Make the most of the extra personal, face to face opportunities they provide. Don’t be lazy – stay off internal emails, avoid the phone and have a face to face with a member of the team who pops into your thoughts. Catch ups, one to ones, team meetings, lunches, tea rounds…give them all the personal touch.
  • Compete – why not host a team quiz night, or encourage the team to share any successes. They might have just smashed their 5km PB, baked a knock-out Victoria sponge, or managed 20 press-ups – it doesn’t matter!
  • Feel the beat – is someone quieter, more reserved, distracted, not as creative, less accurate in their work? All potential warning signs helping you to identify an individual’s greater need for your attention. Although survey’s are a great way of taking a team pulse, real-time thumbs up or down, or scores out of 10 are often just as good. Focus on the solutions to raise the bar and focus where extra support might be needed.

Click here if you’d like a few more suggestions…

Remember to keep a record of communications to show that you’ve not required furloughed employees to carry out any work during this period, as doing so might jeopardise any government reimbursement under the Job Retention Scheme.