Furlough: Government Announces Latest Guidance 15.04.20

An updated version of the guidance relating to the Government’s Job Retention Scheme and furlough has been published offering some additional clarification, you can read our latest article on this here.

Late on Thursday 9th April 2020, the Government released the third version of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme guidance. There are some major changes in this update regarding furlough, yet we are still left with some unanswered questions:

•  The guidance now confirms, importantly, that furlough does apply to staff TUPE transferred after 28 February 2020 even if they were not expressly on the current employer’s payroll on 28 February.

•  The same as above applies to any staff transfers from multiple payrolls in a group of companies, to a consolidated payroll; the consolidated payroll will be eligible for the scheme.

•  Shielded employees can be furloughed and in the previous versions of the guidance one of the criteria was that the employee would have otherwise been made redundant; this eligibility criteria has now been removed.

•  It is now possible to switch between furlough and sickness; those currently on sick leave can be furloughed for business reasons; however, starting sickness while on furlough will break the three weeks’ furlough period.

•  Where the employer provides benefits to furloughed employees, including through a salary sacrifice scheme, these benefits should continue to be paid in addition to the wages that must be paid under the terms of the scheme; in other words, all the money received from the scheme must be passed to the employee as cash (not used for benefits or salary sacrifice schemes).

•  The guidance now accommodates work visas, confirming that the grant received from the scheme will not count as public funds for these purposes.

•  Although employees can be furloughed and work for another employer (employment contract permitting), the employers cannot be linked or associated.

•  HMRC has confirmed that employers will need to calculate the amount they are claiming and HMRC retains the right to retrospectively audit all aspects of all claims.

•  Where employers use an agent who is authorised to act for them for PAYE purposes, the agent will be able to make a claim on their behalf (but ‘file only’ agents won’t be able to do so).

There is still no expressed clarification regarding annual leave: can annual leave be taken during furlough without breaking the furlough period? Does the payment for any holidays and bank holidays have to be at 100% normal pay or can it be at the reduced furlough pay? Can the employees be required to take leave when furloughed?

For further details from Gov.uk please click here.

What next?

Please contact our team if you have any questions regarding this or any other issue and keep abreast of all the latest Coronavirus updated on our COVID-19 page.

Please click here to view all articles relating to furlough and Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme guidance.

If you require any support with the furlough process, please contact our HR Consultancy team.