Extended Furlough – New Guidance Explained

11 November 2020

The new and updated guidance for the extended Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is now released and full details can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-which-employees-you-can-put-on-furlough-to-use-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme and here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

If you review the second link you will see that the following statement is contained: “The government is reviewing whether employers should be eligible to claim for employees serving contractual or statutory notice periods and will change the approach for claim periods starting on or after 1 December 2020, with further guidance published in late November.”  So, if you are an employer thinking about dismissing someone you should make sure that you are giving them notice before 1 December 2020.

It is important to note that from December 2020, HMRC will publish employer names for companies and LLPs of those who have made claims under the scheme from December onwards.    This will alert your staff that claims have been made so employers must be sure to have the right agreements and records of furlough leave on file.

From 1 November, as we already know, employers can claim 80% of an employee’s usual salary for hours not worked up to a maximum cap of £2,500 per month.  This level of grant will be reviewed in January 2021.

The employer must confirm in writing to the employee that they have been furloughed and keep a written record for five years.  Agree working hours with any employees you wish to furlough for November and agree any changes to their employment contract by issuing a furlough agreement which should be signed by employees.

Claims can be made for employees who were employed on 30 October 2020 as long as a PAYE RTI had been made between 20 March and 30 October, unless they re-employed the employee after 23 September.  There is no maximum number of employees that employers can claim for, like there previously was in June.

Employers can agree to retrospectively furlough someone with effect from 1 November 2020, as long as the agreement is in place BEFORE 13 November – this Friday!

If you made employees redundant, or they stopped working for you on or after 23 September 2020 you can re-employ them and put them on furlough. This applies as long as the employee was employed and on your PAYE payroll on or before 23 September 2020.  There are no further pieces of guidance on this currently and it is unclear whether the employee would need to repay any redundancy payments issued, or if the furlough agreement can contain a clause stating that any further notice pay would not be granted once the furlough scheme has been closed.  Employers should be wary of any continuous employment connotations.

Employees returning from maternity leave need to give the statutory eight weeks’ notice to end maternity leave early in order to be furloughed and get furlough pay, which is often higher than Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP).

There are now monthly deadlines for claims. Claims for periods starting on/after 1 November must be submitted within 14 calendar days after the month they relate to, unless this falls on a weekend in which case the deadline is the next weekday.  HMRC have sent emailed messages with further details on how to claim.

The Job Retention Bonus will no longer be paid in February 2021 and an alternative retention incentive will be put in place at the appropriate time, so Team PSHR will keep you posted with any further information.

The launch of the Job Support Scheme has also been postponed.

If you have an employee who is unable to work because they are clinically extremely vulnerable, or at the highest risk of severe illness from coronavirus and following public health guidance, they are eligible for the grant and can be furloughed, as are employees who are unable to work because they have caring responsibilities resulting from Covid-19, including employees that need to look after children.

Whilst furloughed employees will continue to accrue leave as per their employment contract. You can agree with your employee to vary holiday pay entitlement as part of the furlough agreement, however almost all workers are entitled to 5.6 weeks of statutory paid annual leave each year which they cannot go below.

Employees can take holiday whilst on furlough. If an employee is flexibly furloughed, then any hours taken as holiday during the claim period should be counted as furloughed hours rather than working hours.  You should not put an employee on furlough for a period just because they are on holiday for that period.  Working Time Regulations (WTR) require holiday pay to be paid at an employee’s normal rate of pay or, where the rate of pay varies, calculated on the basis of the average pay the employee received in the previous 52 working weeks.

If you are looking to make a retrospective claim from 1 November, you will need to act now as Friday is the deadline for having the agreement in place.  If you require any help, advice, guidance, agreement or document drafting, then please do get in touch – Team PSHR is here to help!

Call you consultant direct, email hello@pshumanresources.co.uk or call 01473 653000.

Take care!

 

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