Updates have been coming thick and fast from government regarding the ever-growing concern of COVID-19 and infection rates. The effect of all announcements has a consequence on each and everyone in different ways.
Safety and care for employees and their families must come first, so therefore the updated guidance reflects this. Most recently, measures have therefore been announced to help those employers and in turn, employees, when considering whether the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme applies when the reason is that the employee has to stay at home to care for children affected by the closure of their school(s) or there is a vulnerability issues within the household.
Considered here is the updated guidance for those employees whose health has been affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) and this includes those employees who cannot work from home (at all or on reduced hours) by reason of:
- A high risk of severe illness as a result of COVID-19 and therefore are vulnerable under public health guidelines;
- Caring responsibilities as a result of the closure of school and childcare facilities; or
- Caring responsibilities for a vulnerable member of their household.
The position of those ‘home schooling’ or looking after children whilst the schools remain closed is a concern for many employees who find themselves in this position. Positively these changes do now allow for businesses to take advantage of the scheme and have given clarity as to whether employees can be furloughed for the above reasons.
The Furlough / Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme was announced by the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, back on 20 March 2020 and has since been extended in light of the continuing nature of the pandemic.
The government’s now updated guidance states that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (Furlough Scheme) has been extended until 30 April 2021.
The original rules still apply and as a relevant employer, you can claim 80% of an employee’s usual salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.
Businesses can claim for employees who were employed on 30 October 2020, as long as you have made a PAYE Real Time Information (RTI) submission to HMRC between 20 March 2020 and 30 October 2020 and you have notified a payment of earnings for the relevant employee. Those employees who started after 30 October 2020 are not included as being eligible under the scheme.
Changes may follow and we would advise businesses to stay up to date with government announcements to ensure that they are compliant and also maximising the ability to achieve the best in these uncertain times.
If you or anyone you know require any guidance on the implications of the above or on any other area of employment law, our experts are on hand to assist.
If you need assistance or advice on the contents of this article, please contact Thackray Williams LLP who have set up a FREE Legal Advice Line to businesses and employees in the wake of COVID-19. Do get in touch on 020 8663 4127 if you wish to discuss this matter in more detail or require any further advice.
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