To assist employers during the current Coronavirus pandemic the government has introduced furlough leave. This will allow employers to retain valued employees whereas they would otherwise need to be made redundant due to the current downturn in the economy. It is otherwise known as the Coronavirus job retention scheme. Furlough leave will help employers during the Coronavirus pandemic.
The goverment will provide a grant whereby employees may receive 80% of their pay for a three month period paying up to £2500 per month. Employees are therefore kept on the payroll. As it stands the money may not be available until June while the government sorts out the finer details. Employers may choose to top up furlough pay to an employee’s full salary or Universal Credit may be available.
An employee working at reduced hours and pay will not be entitled to furlough. Furlough pay can not be received if an employee is working.
During furlough leave, as with lay offs, annual leave accrues. A press release announced today states that twenty days leave may be carried over into a new annual leave year and employees may have up to two years to take it.
An employer must designate employees to be placed on furlough leave. The employees should be notified of this in writing and agree to that if there is not an appropriate clause in their employment contract. The employer then liaises with HMRC for reimbursement.
The UK is in the grip of a coronavirus pandemic with nothing like this seen before. It is affecting all aspects of daily life including the economy and work. With advice emerging from the government on a daily basis the situation is rapidly changing and may last for many months to come.
Many employers are worried about what to do for the best so in this blog I provide some tips on staff management during these difficult times.
Wherever possible it might be prudent to allow staff to work from home. Of course this may suit some industries that rely on accessible systems where information is available for employees to allow them work remotely. the use of conference calls and Skype are also useful to hold remote meetings. However with other industries which provide a face to face service this will not be possible. In such case solutions that reduce human contact, if possible, must be considered. One of my clients is preventing customers walking in off the street by closing their front door and highlighting the need to use the bell to alert staff that someone is there so that they can be attended to.
As many businesses are now being impacted by the spread of the virus there may be a need to consider reduced hours. Reduced travel may also apply depending on the job role. Employees should be advised in writing of a possible temporary reduction in hours and pay or lay offs. These can only be put into practice with an appropriate clause in the employment contract otherwise redundancy may have to be the only option if holidays can not be used.
Staff who contract the coronavirus must receive SSP from day one at the very least if occupational sick pay is not paid. Staff who earn less than £118 per week can access universal credit more easily. Managers should be vigilant to spot the symptoms then send the ill employee home as soon as possible to self isolate.
Employers should keep their staff up to date with developments making sure that those who are pregnant, over 70 or with an underlying health condition are especially protected.
Government advice is to wash hands so plenty of hot water, soap and towels should be made available in the workplace.