On 31st October, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will close. We had hoped for many this would have meant a return to work and perhaps even a little normality. However, with the government once again advising us to work from home and additional measures put into place for potentially the next six months, it seems that normality is still a long way away.
Over the last few months, we’ve advised many employers on how to bring employees back from furlough, now, with the scheme’s end in sight we’ve put together a list of things you should be doing to prepare your business for one last return to work.
• Working from home – If you’ve adopted home working, are your furloughed employees set up for this? If not, what do you need to do to get them prepared?
• Reviewing your COVID-19 risk assessment – think about how all of your employees being back at work might affect the measures you currently have in place and ways in which you can address this.
• Changes to terms of employment – are you able to facilitate a full return to work for all employees? If not, consider whether as an alternative to redundancy you might be able to reduce hours.
• Redundancies – If redundancies are necessary, how many people would be affected? Do you feel able to conduct a fair and reasonable process?
• Holidays – whilst on furlough leave employees have continued to accrue holiday, are there concerns many will want to take their holiday immediately after furlough ends? Also note that by virtue of The Working Time (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020, employees may be able to carry over up to 4 weeks’ untaken leave into the next 2 holiday years.
It’s clear from today’s statement that the furlough scheme won’t be extended, but new job retention measures have been proposed as an alternative. Whilst we await further details of this, we understand that there will be a Job Support Scheme to assist employers with the wages of those in work. It has been suggested today that employees will need to work at least one third of their normal hours and be paid for that by their employer. For the remaining hours not worked, the government would pay one third (the Chancellor said two thirds, but HM Treasury refers to one) and the employer the other third.
If we follow the Treasury’s guidance, this will mean that employees working 33% of their hours, would receive at least 77% of their pay with 22% paid by the government and 55% paid by the employer. We have no details as to how this will work or whether there are any maximum limits to the payments, but we will update you again once this has been clarified.
If you have any questions on the furlough scheme, redundancies or the new job support scheme please contact us.