Less than 1 week ago, the government announced that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (the furlough scheme) would be extended for 1 month, to the end of November 2020, with government support for 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 per month and employers only having to pay pension and National Insurance Contributions.
This week, the government announced that the scheme will be extended to the end of March 2021. This should provide much-needed relative short-term stability for many businesses and employees. The Job Support Scheme and the Job Retention Bonus have been put on hold until the end of the furlough scheme. This means that employers who have obtained employees consent to be placed on the Job Support Scheme must now obtain their consent to be furloughed.
The government has stated that it will review the level of support in January 2021, so it is possible that it could ask businesses to contribute more under the scheme at that stage, as it did in September and October this year.
While full guidance is yet to be released, the following details have been confirmed:
- The scheme can be used for employees for any amount of working time and shift pattern, including full-time furlough.
- For employees who have previously been furloughed, the reference pay is based on the previous furlough calculations
- Claims can be made for employees not previously placed on furlough, with a new calculation for reference pay.
- Employees can be furloughed if they are shielding in line with public health guidance (or need to stay at home with someone who is shielding).
- As long as employees were employed and on the payroll on 23 September 2020, if they were then made redundant or stopped working for their employer, they can be re-employed and claimed for under the scheme.
- Retrospective furlough agreements can be used for claims under the scheme from 1 November 2020, as long as the agreement is in place by 13 November 2020.
For advice on the options now available for businesses, please contact our specialist team.