The House of Commons has published a briefing paper, ’FAQs: Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme’ which answers 48 common questions on how the scheme works, who is eligible, how to deal with different circumstances and the employment law aspects of furloughing employees.
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) was announced on 20 March 2020, initially for three months but it has since been extended to 31 October, with changes to how the scheme works being introduced from 1 July.
- It allows employers to furlough employees and claim up to 80% of their wages back from the government, this reduces to 70% in September and 60% in October, subject to certain conditions.
- Prior to 30 June 2020, furloughed employees were not allowed to undertake any work for the employer. From 1 July part-time working will be allowed under ‘flexible furlough’, with the employer covering wage costs for hours actually worked.
As the scheme is unprecedented, employers and their employees have had many questions about how it works, when it applies and how much they should claim. The queries answered in the briefing paper include:
- Do employers need to prove they cannot otherwise pay their employees?
- Does the Scheme cover director-employees?
- Can employees on sick leave/unpaid leave/family-related leave be furloughed?
- Can employees demand to be furloughed?
- How should employers select which employees to furlough?
- Can employers make redundancies while the Scheme is in effect?
- Does being furloughed affect annual leave/maternity rights/continuity of employment?
- What is ‘flexible furlough’?
- What will happen when the scheme ends?
Though primarily aimed at MP’s, the guidance is very detailed and covers a large range of issues from employment law and tax to some of the practical aspects that employers are currently facing, such as how to deal with different types of workers and circumstances.
It does however state “This is a fast-moving issue and all information should be read as correct at the time of publication (16 June 2020)... A suitably qualified professional should be consulted if specific advice or information is required.” Anyone using the guidance should check for more recent government updates and take advice where necessary as HMRC have stated that payments may be withheld or have to be fully repaid if they find that claims are based on dishonest or inaccurate information or if are fraudulent.
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