So, yesterday Rishi Sunak announced the future look of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (the Scheme), and a surprise to all (myself included). There will be an extension on the same terms until the end of July. So, that means you can continue to claim 80% of wages up to the £2,500 per month cap, for furloughed staff all the way up until the end of July. So, if you have furlough letters where you have agreement from staff to the furlough until the end of May (the original date) or the end of June (the first extension) then you need to look at extending this with another letter and agreement from those workers – action point for today(!) Whilst you are doing that, take the opportunity to check in with those employees who are out of your business on furlough. Remember, keeping good lines of communication will make your life much easier when the furlough finally ends, and you look to bring them back into the business. Even if you have to make redundancies after the Scheme ends, it always helps to have the employees on side.
Then from August – October the Scheme will still be available but on a reduced basis. We don’t know exactly what that will look like at this stage, and further guidance will come by the end of the month. However, I suspect it will be a reduced % payment claimable from HMRC (the figure of 60% has been banded about a lot), furloughed employees will start to be able to do some work (on a part time basis) and as such employers will be expected to start to make some payments to those employees. This could be on a sliding scale, a reducing basis, or a static figure from August to the end of the Scheme – who knows? As I said, when we get more details, you will be the first to know!
The timings seem to fit in with when we would hope the majority of our schools, colleges and universities to be back open (after the summer) so it is a sensible plan and continues to be a huge crutch for employers provided by the government, and we shouldn’t forget what a massive step in this has been. Personally I quite look forward to the new guidance coming out and me having to lock myself in a dark room whilst I make head nor tail of it, but that is because I am an employment law geek! What it does mean is that I can do that, so you don’t have to, and you will get guaranteed clear and concise guidance in as black and white terms as possible….oh, that will be a good F-Word webinar(!)