Furlough extends again
So here we go again: the furlough scheme’s extended on the same arrangements until the end of September 2021.
We’re updating this blog as things are fleshed out or change.
It’s now available until September 2021 with increasing costs for employers starting in July. You can furlough anyone including employees who haven’t been furloughed before, as long as they were on your payroll by 30th October.
Employees will receive 80% of their pay from the scheme up to a monthly £2,500 maximum. Firms can furlough people full-time or ask them to work part-time. Currently there are no minimum working hours for this option.
The costs for employers appear to be 5% of pay, to cover National Insurance and pension contributions – which is a big improvement on the higher costs for previous months.
From 1st July, employers have to contribute 10% towards employee wages and from 1st August to 30th September the employer contributions increase to 20%.
Here’s more information from the government.
Offices: closed or open?
This bit keeps changing and depends on what happens in the next few months when non-essential shops and other places start to open again.
Certain workplaces have had to close but anything not on that list, including offices and co-working places, seemed able to stay open, as long as the premises were Covid-secure and followed the required guidelines.
But going to the office during any future lockdown or restrictions connected to a Tier system again will carry risks: it’s potentially an offence unless you can prove there’s a good reason for not working at home. That’s a £200 fine and subsequent fines double.
Lawyers Lewis Silkin have an excellent blog about this issue.
The burden of proof for employees would be: is it “reasonably possible” to work from home? Unless you can prove it isn’t, you aren’t going to be protected for leaving your home and working elsewhere. It’s a much tougher test than the earlier lockdown.
England only or UK wide?
All UK areas can use the furlough scheme.
No £1,000 bonus
The £1,000 Job Retention Bonus for each employee brought back from furlough and kept employed until January 2021 has been scrapped.
What happens in 2021?
Well, the furlough scheme runs until 30th September 2021. After that, the furloughs stop and the tweaked but then abandoned Job Support Scheme might become available.
It depends on so many things that could change along the way. Watch this space.
Shielding and health issues
If you previously received a letter from your GP or NHS advising that you are clinically vulnerable then discuss it with your employer. You may be eligible to go on furlough or receive Statutory Sick Pay, or the Employment Support Allowance or Universal Credit, if you are unable to work.
Concerns about risks to your health or others may not be enough to argue that you cannot work, if you don’t have evidence such as the letter advising that you were deemed to be clinically vulnerable, which was sent to people with chronic illnesses. Here’s more information and letters are expected to be sent (by GPs or the NHS) to clinically extremely vulnerable people shortly.
What happens next?
We’ll see what changes and particularly during Parliamentary debates. Then further guidance should be issued, which (based on previous experiences) means there are bound to be some tweaks, clarifications and surprises.
If anything significant changes, we’ll update this blog immediately.
Last updated 04/03/2021
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