Well hello furlough, we meet again! I wish it were in better circumstances, though I guess if those circumstances were better, we wouldn’t need to meet now, would we!
This year furlough seems a bit like the hokey-cokey doesn’t it, in-out, in-out, shake it all about! The scheme details are, again, somewhat complicated, and I would advise anyone involved in furloughing their people to get in touch with us to discuss the finer details, this way you ensure the I’s are dotted and the T’s are crossed.
To be clear, although it’s officially called the CJRS(Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme), it’s more often referred to as the Furlough Scheme and the support remains as before, at 80% of employees’ wages up to a maximum of £2500 per month, and even better news the government have decided that it will remain open until March 2021!
This time there does seem to be more flexibility in how it can be applied to eligible employees. I’m going to share this with you in a moment.
First, we need to know who is/is not eligible. So, how can you tell if employees are eligible, or indeed if your business is eligible, to claim under this scheme? Jotted below are the basic requirements as set out by the government:
Both private and partially publicly funded organisations(where private revenue has been disrupted due to COVID 19 restrictions) are eligible to apply for support.
To be eligible, employees need to have been on the company’s payroll and paid BEFORE 30th October 2020. If they were made redundant after 23rd September 2020, they can also be re-employed and furloughed (similar to the previous scheme).
The key difference on this occasion, however, is the flexibility with which employers can use the scheme. This, in my opinion, is a definite improvement in the rules. The scheme flex includes:
Employees can be furloughed for any amount of time – there is no minimum period of furlough as there was previously
Although flexible furlough agreements can last any amount of time, unless otherwise specified the period claimed for must be for a minimum claim period of 7 consecutive calendar days
You can furlough employees both full time and part-time – so if you only need them part-time, you have the flexibility to support them through this scheme
You can (with agreement with your employees) vary their hours worked, use furlough on any type of shift pattern, and for any type of employment contract (if the above eligibility criteria are met)
Employees can also be furloughed for different reasons, for instance, if they are shielding or caring for others, however, this scheme is not for use as a replacement for SSP (Statutory Sick Pay) in short term absences. In instances of short-term absence get in touch and we can take you through your options for those on furlough.
It’s vital that you and your employees on furlough stick to the rules of the scheme however, failing to do so could land you in hot water as an employer and individually – arrests have been made, for fraud and money laundering, where companies mis-claimed during the furlough period ending October 2020 – hence we cannot emphasise enough the importance of keeping to those rules.
When on furlough, employees must NOT do any work for you (the employer) or any associated businesses. However, an improvement on the last scheme is that they CAN take part in training – we think this is an excellent move, your people need to keep their brains engaged while on furlough, and what better way to take advantage of their time out of the workspace than to improve their knowledge, skills, and confidence?
Our talent partner, Thirst4 Learning, can help you with all your personal development learning needs, so drop us a line today and we’ll put you in contact with them.
Employees can also volunteer and work at other organisations if their contract allows this.
It’s important to note that, while on furlough, employees maintain all their employment rights – so be sure to treat them in the same way as when at work. And finally, there are key administrative rules you must follow – too laborious to bring into this blog today, but we can also help you with this and remove this legislative burden from your door.
Remember, you are not in this alone, we are here to help, advise, and support. Get in touch to find out how we are helping other companies like yours, ensuring the detail is covered throughout and thus protecting you and your valuable business from any legal action.