Job Retention Scheme: updated and open!
The online job retention scheme portal opened on Monday 20th April, but it wasn’t too late for some further last minute changes on Friday evening and over the weekend. Cecily Donoghue, Employment Solicitor in Gregg Latchams Bristol office provides a summary of the most recent changes.
Job Retention Scheme Guidance
The Government updated both the employee and employer guidance documents on Friday evening (albeit they were not consistently updated!)
- Step by Step Guidance for employers – which helpfully sets out the process for making a claim
- How to Calculate Your Claim – which includes more detailed information and worked examples for calculating what to claim
Job Retention Scheme Updates
The Job Retention Scheme has been extended until 30 June 2020 – it may be extended beyond this date again if necessary.
Finally some much needed clarity was provided on the position of furlough and holiday. As anticipated:
- Employees on furlough continue to accrue annual leave;
- Employees can take holiday whilst furlough – although not stated, this assumes that it can be taken without breaking furlough
- Any holiday taken whilst on furlough will need to be paid at the employees’ normal pre-furlough rate of pay so employers will need to pay 100% of pay whilst on holiday which will not be covered under the grant;
- Bank holidays falling during furlough continue to be holiday if they are usually taken as such;
- Employers can restrict when holiday can be taken but the guidance is silent on whether employers can require employees to take holiday whilst on furlough – under the Working Time Regulations this is permitted subject to proper notice and if so, must be paid at full pay.
- Employees can agree to vary holiday which is enhanced above the statutory minimum as part of a furlough agreement, but it cannot go below the 5.6 week statutory minimum;
- The section ends by saying that the policy on holiday pay during furlough will be kept “under review” so the position may still change on this issue
This is an issue of real confusion. The previous guidance stated that written confirmation was all that was needed. The Treasury Direction stated that parties needed to agree to furlough in writing, but the most recent guidance throws a further element of confusion by stating “there needs to be a written record, but the employee does not have to provide a written response”. The position remains unclear so the safest approach would be to ensure that employees provide written consent to be furloughed.
Making a claim
- A calculator has been published to assist in calculating how much employers can claim – click here to access
- Payments will take 6 working days to come through
- Only one claim can be submitted per claim period
- HMRC updated is statutory payments manual to provide that employees do not qualify for SSP if they are on furlough;
- The “Statutory Sick Pay (General) (Coronavirus Amendment) (No. 3) Regulations 2020 came into effect on 16th April and provide that a person is deemed to be incapable for work if they are unable to work because they fall within the extremely vulnerable category and have been advised to shield. It does not appear that the regulations have retrospective effect.
Furloughing staff returning from family leave
The guide on calculating furlough pay sets out that staff who are being furloughed following their return from paid or unpaid family leave (eg: maternity, paternity, shared parental leave etc) should be furloughed based on their normal salary before tax, and not the pay they received whilst on family leave.
Expert employment law advice
We will keep you updated should any further guidance be released. If you need support on implementing the scheme within your business, or have questions around tricky areas, please contact either Nick Jones or Cecily Donoghue. Call 0117 906 9400 or email email@example.com