On 20 March 2020, the UK Government announced the introduction of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for all UK employers. The scheme will help employers to carry on part-paying salaries for those employees who otherwise would be “laid off” due to the Coronavirus crisis.
We asked Fflur Jones, Partner and Head of Employment Law & HR at Darwin Gray, some of the burning questions around the scheme and legal considerations for furloughing.
Q: Who is eligible to be put on furlough leave?
A: Full-time employees, part-time employees, and workers are all eligible for the scheme provided they were on the employer’s PAYE payroll on 28 February 2020. You must get consent from an employee first before being able to furlough them.
Q: How much of a furloughed employee’s wage can an employer claim?
A: Employers can reclaim up to 80% of wage costs up to a cap of £2,500 plus (not including) the associated employer NICs and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on that wage.
Q: What if an employee has an additional job?
A: If an employee has more than one employer they can be furloughed for each job. Each job is separate, and the cap applies to each employer individually. However, an employee who is on furlough leave cannot undertake work for on or behalf of the employer that has put them on the furlough leave. If they work for even an hour during the furlough leave, they are in breach of the scheme, and will not be eligible for the payments due under the scheme.
Q: What other considerations are there when furloughing employees?
A: It is important to keep communication open, supporting your employees and considering any mental health impact the crisis may have on them. It is also crucial to keep records of any correspondence you have regarding the employees in relation to their furlough leave, in case any disputes arise later.