We have seen a number of further updates to the guidance by the government on the furlough scheme.  The latest main update was on Thursday 23 April but a further announcement was made on Friday 24 April.  And of course, on Monday 20 April 2020 the scheme itself was opened for all applications.  We have heard that employers who made their applications at the beginning of the week have already begun receiving their payments.

So, what has happened in the past week or so in terms of the formal guidance and how does this effect employers?  Let’s have a look at the main points:

  • Annual leave can now be taken during furlough.  The guidance of 17 April confirmed that employees/workers can take annual leave during furlough, and this reflects the position that was set out in the ACAS guidance at an earlier stage. This has been unclear for some weeks.  It isn’t absolutely certain that employers can require employees to take holiday as this guidance is set out in the employee’s guidance rather than the employer’s guidance.  But this is probably splitting hairs and is almost certainly OK. 
  • Furloughed workers planning to take paid maternity, parental or adoption leave will be entitled to pay based on their usual earnings rather than a furloughed pay rate.  This therefore avoids the problem (as required by the regs which govern the pay in these cases) where the calculation looks at the previous 8 weeks.  If the individual had been furloughed during this 8-week period they could have been financially disadvantaged, if this amendment had not been made.
  • The guidance has set out a table of eligibility relating to the start date of employment to provide clarity around the start date and the RTI submission.  Unfortunately, it still remains that even if an employee was recruited between 28 February and 19 March, if their RTI submission was not made by the 19 March, they continue to miss out under the scheme.
  • You can re-employ a fixed term employee/worker whose contract had expired after either 28 February or 19 March.  You can of course continue to renew fixed term contracts and furlough those workers as before.
  • The furlough calculator is now available https://www.gov.uk/guidance/work-out-80-of-your-employees-wages-to-claim-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

Do get in touch if you need any help.

Matt Huggett: matthew.huggett@carbonlawpartners.com

07496 126 266 / 0117 332 8333 / 0292 167 1990