COVID-19 – Furlough Scheme Update

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With COVID-19 cases still on the rise across the UK, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced the extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (also known as furlough), until the end of April 2021. The CJRS is a scheme which was put in place during the first national lockdown following the outbreak of COVID-19, and it sees the Government contribute 80% towards an employee’s usual salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. 

The move to extend furlough until the end of April will allow businesses the opportunity to fully assess their circumstances and make decisions relating to employment well ahead of the 45-day redundancy notice period. 

Who is eligible? 

In light of this recent announcement, employment guidance has now been updated by the HMRC to state that employers can choose to furlough employees whose health has been affected by COVID-19 or any other conditions or extenuating circumstances, including if they are unable to work from home. 

HMRC’s guidance also states that employers may place employees on furlough, or on a flexible, part-time working pattern supported by the furlough scheme, if they: 

  • Are clinically extremely vulnerable, or are considered to be at high risk of suffering severe symptoms should they contract the virus 
  • Have care responsibilities resulting from COVID-19, such as having to care for children who are at home due to the closure of schools and childcare facilities 
  • Have care responsibilities for a vulnerable individual in their household 

 

What is flexible furlough? 

Flexible furlough allows employees to return to work on a part-time basis, so that they would receive full pay for the hours they choose to work, with the Government continuing to pay 80% of their wage for the hours they do not work. 

Under a flexible furlough arrangement, the hours and shift patterns to be worked are to be decided between the employer and the employee. 

 

What support is there for business owners? 

Many of the Government-guaranteed COVID-19 business loan schemes which have been in place since furlough was first introduced have also had their deadlines extended, with some new schemes being introduced in light of the changing restrictions. These schemes include: 

  • The Local Restrictions Support Grant (LRSG), which offers businesses who have been required to close due to national restrictions as of 5th January 2021 offered a one-off grant of up to £9,000. This includes businesses in the entertainment sector.  
  • The Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG), which offers support to businesses that are not covered by other grant schemes, or where additional funding is needed. 
  • The Christmas Support Payment (CSP), which provides a supporting grant of up to £1,000 to assist wet-led pubs that have been severely impacted over the Christmas period due to temporary local restrictions. 

 

For further information, guidance and advice relating to Employment Law, please contact our offices in 01282 433241, and a member of our team will be happy to assist you. 

 

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