Further guidance on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme was published over the weekend and they have clarified certain areas and changed some wording from previous guidance. The guidance now states as follows:
- Employees are allowed to work for another employer when they are on furlough leave, if their old contract allows it. Potentially someone could earn 180% of their wages.
- Compulsory (contractual) commission payments, past overtime and fees are now included in the 80% of wages that can be claimed from HMRC. The guidance states that discretionary bonus and commission payments and non-cash payments should be excluded.
- The cost of non-monetary benefits such as health insurance and company cars are not to be included.
- Company Directors can be furloughed and if they are, can only carry out statutory duties.
- Employees can be furloughed more than once (subject to the minimum period of 3 weeks).
- Employers are required to notify the employee in writing they have been furloughed and keep a record of this for 5 years. This is new and not mentioned before.
- “If you cannot maintain your current workforce because your operations have been severely affected by coronavirus (COVID-19), you can furlough employees…” This is different from stating that it would apply to those who would otherwise have been laid off or made redundant (as set out in the previous guidance). However, under the advice on those shielding it does state that those shielding can be furloughed “…if they are unable to work from home and you would otherwise have to make them redundant.”
- For those who have employees who are unable to work due to childcare issues it states that they can be furloughed, however, there is no reference to “if they would have been otherwise made redundant”. This is new information and it would be advisable to furlough those employees to minimise any risk of any potential discrimination claims.
The guidance does not clarify the position whether holidays can be taken during furlough and if so what is paid. Another area not explained are whether those who have transferred into a business under TUPE after 28 February 2020 can be furloughed (currently we don’t think they can but the government may clarify this) and finally what are “Statutory duties” in relation to Company Directors?
As we have explained before the guidance is continually being updated and as soon as we receive any further detail we will update you!