AND THEIR ANSWERS
Is it possible to ask staff to work for part of the week and be furloughed for the rest – for example on a 50/50 split?
No – the current position (as at 10 April 2020) is that an employee is either furloughed – because there is not enough work for them to undertake – as an alternative to their contract being terminated; or they are required to work normally; or – and it would seem harsh in the current circumstances – they are terminated. Once they are furloughed, they are not able to undertake any work, and they would receive a minimum of 80% of their regular pay, up to a limit of £2,500 per month, which their employer would claim back from the Government under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
Is it only key workers who are allowed to carry over annual leave into future years?
No. When the announcements were first made, reference was made to key workers being able to do so, to highlight the fact that due to the volume of work for them currently, it might not be possible for them to take all of their due holiday entitlement. However, the entitlement applied to all workers across all industries and sectors. However, employers of non key workers, who are facing periods where they have reduced volumes of work or no work at all (and are therefore furloughing staff) may not want to encourage staff to carry holiday over into future years, due to the impact that this would have on resourcing levels when, hopefully, work has returned to whatever degree. (I purposely didn’t use the word ‘normal’)
Which employees are covered by the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme?
Those covered include:
- Employees who were on their employer’s payroll/PAYE system on 28 February 2020, and not working
- Zero-hour staff and Agency staff as long as they are on payroll/PAYE, and not working
How should we deal with an employee’s sickness during this period?
If an employee is on sick leave they do not qualify for furlough. It is quite probable, and possibly understandable that employees who were sick, may say that they are no longer sick, so that they can benefit from the furlough scheme. This would enable the employee to eventually receive 80% of their pay, rather than SSP, as long as they comply with the furlough scheme and don’t do any work.
If an employee, who is already on the furlough scheme becomes sick, and tells their employer, this doesn’t have to be advised to HMRC. Consequently, the employer can continue to claim 80% of the employee’s wages under the scheme, and pay the employee this amount.
There may be some situations, where employers are able to provide a safe working environment for employees and are in industries where the government considers it appropriate for them to continue operating – i.e. not the hospitality sector. There may be situations where they advise their employees that they would like them to come into work, (because the particular type of work cannot be undertaken at home) and the employee states that they, or a member of their household has developed COVID-19 symptoms and that they are self-isolating. Practically speaking, the best advice is to accept what they are saying at face value and remain in contact with them through this period. At the end of the self-isolation period, if they have not got worse, or if it transpires that it wasn’t COV-19, they can return then. If they were previously furloughed, then the sickness wouldn’t have to be reported to HMRC, and if they didn’t do any work during the self-isolation period, they could be claimed for under the CJRS, as long as they met all of the requirements previously set.