Key points for employers arising from COVID-19- August 2020
Do employers now need to contribute to furloughed employees’ wages?
Yes. For the first time since the furlough scheme began employers will need to start contributing to the cost of the scheme. From 1 August 2020, the government will continue to pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 for the hours an employee is on furlough. Employers will now have to pay employer National Insurance contributions and make pension contributions for those hours.
Who can I still claim for under the CJRS scheme?
Unless you’re making a new claim for an employee who is a military reservist or is returning from statutory parental leave, (this includes maternity, shared parental, paternity, adoption and parental bereavement) you can only continue to claim through the scheme if you have previously furloughed the employee for 3 consecutive weeks between 1 March and 30 June and you submitted your claim before 31 July 2020.
Employers will be limited to the maximum number of claims made in any single instance between March and June. Further, when calculating the maximum number of employees you can claim for, the number of employees you are furloughing for the first time due to them returning from statutory parental leave or returning from a period of mobilisation after 10 June 2020 should be added to your previous maximum.
Has any other legislation been implemented?
The government has brought in a new law effective of Friday 31 July 2020 which ensures that if furloughed employees are made redundant while on furlough, they will receive a statutory redundancy payment based on their “normal wages”, rather than a reduced furlough rate. The law will also apply to ensure that normal wages are paid in respect of statutory notice payments.
What is the current working from home advice?
On 17 July 2020, the Prime Minister announced that from 1 August the government would be updating its advice on going to work. Until that point the government’s official advice has been that people should work from home if they can. Now, the government is giving employers more “discretion” to decide how their staff can work safely. This could include asking employees’ where possible to avoid public transport when commuting to work or asking those who have been shielding or have underlying health conditions to continue working from home.
If you decide to ask staff to return to the workplace it is important that you follow the government’s updated COVID-19 Secure guidance applicable to their particular type of workplace, consult with employees and update your COVID-19 risk assessment.
What about employees who have been told to shield?
During the peak of the Coronavirus pandemic, people who were notified that they were extremely vulnerable were advised to shield. As of 1 August 2020, the guidance on shielding has been “paused” and the government is advising that people no longer need to shield. This means that these individuals should carry on working from home wherever possible but can go to the workplace as long as it is COVID secure.
Employers should however remember that these individuals may be advised to shield again if the situation changes and it is therefore important to remain as flexible as possible with their working arrangements.
Are there any other dates I need to be aware of now?
From 1 September 2020, the government grant will reduce from 80% to 70% of wages up to a cap of £2,187.50 for the hours the employee is on furlough. This changes again on 1 October 2020 when the government will pay 60% of wages up to a cap of £1,875.00.
Employers will need to top up employees’ wages to ensure they receive 80% of their wages up to a cap of £2,500 for the time they are furloughed. Employers will continue to pay employer National Insurance contributions and make pension contributions until the scheme closes on 31 October 2020.
If you have any further questions on any of the issues raised above, please contact Charlotte Middleton at firstname.lastname@example.org for any further advice. This general guidance is correct as of 05 August 2020 but may be subject to change. We strongly recommend that specific advice is sought as needed.