What are the changes to the job retention scheme from 1st September 2020?
From 1st September furloughed employees will still receive 80% of their normal wage, but the government will only pay 70% of this pay. Employers are required to pay 10% towards the wages to pay the total up to 80%, in addition to the 10% employers are required to pay employees National Insurance contributions and pension contributions also.
Is an employee entitled to their normal pay during their notice period if they are made redundant while on furlough leave?
If an employee is ready and willing to work during their notice period, then an employee must be paid their full normal pay while they’re on statutory notice, not their reduced furlough rate.
According to the CIPD, there were some complex legal arguments surrounding this notice pay on furlough, especially regarding the distinction between contractual and statutory notice pay. The new rules permit employers to pay a lower rate of pay for contractual notice periods, as long as these notice periods are at least one week longer than the statutory minimum period. Note that employers cannot reclaim any payment made in lieu of notice under the furlough scheme.
If an employee is advised to self-isolate to help stop the spread of the virus are, they entitled to sick pay?
Government guidelines say that any person who has symptoms of coronavirus are required to self-isolate for 10 days, and any people they live with are required to self-isolate for 14 days. These employees would be entitled to receive SSP as the government made a temporary change in the legislation to accommodate this.
Any employee who is required to self-isolate after travelling abroad is not entitled to receive SSP, however if during their isolation period they start to have symptoms of coronavirus then they would be entitled to receive SSP.
What medical evidence can employers request from an employee who is absent with coronavirus symptoms when advice is to not attend your GP?
Most company absence policies allow for employees to self-certify for up to seven calendar days, employees who are absent for more than seven days due to coronavirus may find it hard to get a doctors note in the normal timeframes as government advice is for employees with symptoms to not visit their GP’s.
Employers are encouraged to make exceptions to their normal requirements for medical evidence.
Can employers put employees on furlough leave if they are off sick?
The job retention scheme closed for new employees on 10th June 2020, so any employee who has not already been furloughed can no longer be placed on furlough leave. Employees who have previously been placed on furlough leave can be placed back on furlough leave or can participate in flexible furlough from 1st July 2020.
Guidance from the government regarding the job retention scheme says that employers can furlough employees who are off sick if there are business reasons to do this, although the scheme is not intended for short-term absence due to sickness. Any employee who is off sick, should either receive statutory sick pay or furlough pay but not both payments.
If an employee falls ill while they are on furlough leave, there is no obligation for the employer to place the employee on SSP.
Do employees still accrue holiday while furloughed?
Yes, as they remain employed.
It can be agreed to reduce any enhanced holiday above the statutory requirement of 5.6 weeks per year, to reflect the fact the employee has been on furlough, but employees still have their right to the 5.6 weeks’ annual leave under the working time regulations.
Can employees take annual leave if they are on furlough leave?
Employees who are on furlough leave can take annual leave without the period of furlough being disrupted.
Employers must pay the furloughed employee their normal full rate of pay for the period of annual leave, rather than the reduced amount they have received while being on furlough.
What happens to bank holidays during furlough?
If employees normally work on bank holidays, they will be on furlough on the bank holiday, unless they usually take holiday for these days.
If employees usually have bank holidays off, then guidance says:
- Can agree with the employee to take the bank holiday as annual leave, or give them notice to take this day as annual leave and pay holiday for the day
- Agree that the employee defers the holiday to another date and pay furlough for that day.
Can employees undertake training while on furlough leave?
Yes, employees can undertake training for their employer while they are on furlough leave if the training does not generate any revenue for the employer.
Can an employee work or volunteer while on furlough?
Employees can not work for their employer while on furlough leave.
Unless prohibited by their employment contract employees are free to work somewhere else while they are on furlough leave, but this other work cannot be linked to your employer or be a company that is associated with the employer.
Employees can do volunteer work if it is not for their employer.
What are an employee’s employment rights on furlough leave?
Employees still have the same protections while they are on furlough leave as they do when at work, including SSP, parental rights and the right to not be unfairly dismissed if they have over two years’ service.