In keeping with all of the other updates on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, there were several significant updates published from the afternoon of Friday 17 April 2020 and over the weekend!
Extension of scheme
Firstly, the Chancellor announced that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme would be extended to the end of June 2020. There was pressure from some businesses to do this due to the employment law surrounding redundancies and the requirement of 45 day consultations if making more than 100 employees redundant.
Furlough and holidays
Finally, we received some clarity regarding holidays and furlough leave, although, HMRC only updated the Employee’s Guidance and not the Employer’s Guidance. However, interestingly, there is a new guidance called “Work out 80% of your employees’ wages to claim through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme” where there is detail on holidays and furlough leave. HMRC have confirmed that it is possible to take holidays whilst being on furlough leave. As we have been advising our clients, it was also confirmed that any holidays taken during furlough leave will need to be “topped up” to 100%.
There is no information regarding enforcing annual leave during furlough leave, however, we believe that employers will be able to do this providing the relevant notice.
An interesting part of this section, is that the guidance finishes off with “During this unprecedented time, we are keeping the policy on holiday pay during furlough under review”. So watch this space…
Statutory Sick Pay
HMRC has updated their Statutory Payments Manual stating that employees do not qualify for SSP if
they are furloughed as part of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
The Government made the Statutory Sick Pay (General) (Coronavirus Amendment) (No. 3) Regulations 2020. It confirms that a person is deemed to be incapable of work if they are unable to work because they fall within the extremely vulnerable category and have been advised to shield. This came into force on 16 April 2020 and it does not appear that it has a retrospective effect.
The HMRC guidance on the agreement between the employee and employer is different to what the Treasury Direction was to HMRC. The guidance states that the employer needs to write to the employee notifying them of being on furlough. However, the Direction goes into more detail and states that it requires more than a notification but a written agreement to cease all work. The way in which the Direction is written alludes to not being able to get retrospective agreement on ceasing all work. However, our advice is to seek retrospective agreement if this was not explicitly made when initially furloughing employees.
Portal up and running!
The online portal for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme went live early this morning!
Let us know how you get on with using the system!