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Covid 19 update: flexible furlough, statutory sick pay and more

Tracy Carpenter: Human Resources Consultant: 2nd June 2020

 As the country starts to slowly creep (hopefully) towards an end to lockdown, some legislative matters are being clarified by the government, and changes to the support for furlough and the Job Retention Scheme are being introduced to ease the economy back into normality.

Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme

This has been a knotty problem for businesses, and if you've had an employee who has been sick due to Covid 19 then it might have raised a few questions. Essentially, the Government will refund you through the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme, depending on the circumstances.

The Government have produced a step-by-step guide to help you see if you're eligible to claim back Statutory Sick Pay - follow this link.

Flexible Furlough

The Government is keen to enable people to start returning to work where safe and/or necessary. As such, the furlough scheme will soon be changed to support people coming back to work on a part time basis.

This scheme will close to new entrants on 30 June. After then, employers will only be able to make use of the furlough scheme in regards to employees who have already been furloughed, at some point, by that date, for a full 3 week period. To allow time for staff to be furloughed for the required minimum 3 weeks, the last date employers can furlough staff so they can benefit from the scheme is 10 June.

From July 1st, you'll have the flexibility to bring previously furloughed employees back to work part-time with the government continuing to pay 80% of wages for any of their normal hours they do not work up until the end of August. This flexibility comes a month earlier than previously announced to help people get back to work.

You can decide the hours and shift patterns that your employees will work on their return and you will be responsible for paying their wages in full while working. This means that employees can work as much or as little as your business needs, with no minimum time that you can furlough staff for.

The phasing out of furlough

Although the Chancellor only recently announced that furlough would be extended until October, we all know that it cannot continue indefinitely. The Government have now detailed how support for furlough will be phased out over the upcoming weeks and months as the economy is reopened.

Essentially, you will be able to keep employees on furlough if you think it is necessary, but Government financial support for this will be tapered off, month by month.

  • In June and July, the scheme will continue without employer contribution.
  • In August, the 80% government contribution will remain; employers will only be required to pay employer national insurance and employers pension contributions which, for the average claim, accounts for only 5% of total employment costs.
  • In September, the government contribution will pay 70% with the employers contributing 10%.
  • In October, the government contribution will be 60% (up to 1,875), whilst employers will contribute 20%.

If you wish to use the furlough scheme

  • If you want to use the furlough scheme to protect the viability of your business, you need to ensure that you furlough staff for whom you want to claim the furlough grant by no later than 10 June and forat least 3 full weeks.
  • You must ensure you make a claim for for of any member of staff furloughed up to 30 June through the governments furlough scheme portal (follow this link) by31 July.
  • To meet this deadline, start assessing your business needs and which employees are or will be furloughed by no later than 10 June. Consider whether there is a need to bring furloughed employees back on a part time basis from July. Many employees have not been in their workplaces since March so this could be a useful way to ease people back into the workplace as the economy picks up, and demand for your products or services starts to increase.

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