Frequently Asked Questions and Answers for Employers

Do employees have the right to work from home?

The current government advice is if people can work from home then they should do, however, there is no legal right for an employee to work from home, but it is advisable that any employee who can effectively work from home is allowed to do so.

Do employers have to provide employees who are homeworking with equipment?

Employers are not legally obliged to provide home offices for employees, however, they do have to ensure that any employee working from home is doing so safely. This could include providing proper equipment such as an office chair. Employees who purchase their own equipment may be able to claim back tax relief, this can be done by sending a P87 form to the HRMC. In April 2020, the flat-rate tax deduction to cover additional expenses increased from £4 to £6 a week.

What if an employee has said that they will not return to work as they do not feel safe?

Employers under the Health and Safety at Work Act have a responsibility to ensure that workers are safe. If employees are concerned about social distancing measures that are in place, it is up to the employers to discuss with employees the measures that have been taken to ensure the workplace is as safe as it can be. Employers are encouraged to have a meeting with employees to take them through all the changes made and to go through the relevant risk assessments.

How much notice do employees need to return to work?

There is not a legal requirement of how much notice an employee should be given to return to work, this may have been specified in their furlough letter, if not then one-week notice is deemed appropriate.

Can employers enforce employees to take holiday?

Employers can ask employees to take annual leave but employers are required to give notice. The notice required is usually double the time of the holiday the employer requires the employee to take. As an example, if employers want employees to take one weeks holiday they must give two weeks’ notice.

If an employee does not wish to take holiday they can request for this to be carried forward, the government introduced a temporary law, which allows employees affected by the coronavirus pandemic to carry over up to four weeks paid holiday into the next two years.

When does flexible furlough come into place?

From 1st July an employee can be on flexible furlough, providing they have previously been furloughed for the minimum three-week period. Employers and employees must agree the hours to be worked and the hours to be furloughed. Both parties must ensure that no work is undertaken during any furloughed hours.

If an agreement on working hours cannot be agreed, the employee may need to remain on full-time furlough.

Is there a limit who can be on flexible furlough?

The number of employees that can be furloughed after 1st July in any period cannot exceed the maximum number of employees that were claimed for under the original furlough scheme, any returning parents are excluded from this figure.

When does the furlough scheme end?

The furlough scheme is due to finish at the end of October 2020. From August employees will still receive 80% of their wages but employers will have to start to contribute and pay National Insurance and pension contributions. For the average claim, it is 5% of the gross employment costs that the employer would have incurred if the employee had not been furloughed.

From September the government will cut its grant to 70% of wages, capped at £2,190 per month. Employers will be required to pay National Insurance and pension contributions, followed by 10% of wages to make up the 80% capped at £2,500 per month. This works out at 14% of the average gross costs the employer would have occurred.

In October, the grant will be cut to 60% of wages capped at £1,875 per month. Employers will pay National Insurance and pension contributions and 20% of wages to make up the 80%. This equates to 23% of the gross employment costs employers would have occurred.

What if an employee is self-isolating?

Employees who are self-isolating but can work from home can continue to do so, if an employee cannot work from home and cannot return to the workplace, they could continue to be furloughed if possible, if not then they would be entitled to receive statutory sick pay. Companies who have their own occupational sick pay could also pay employees this in addition to SSP.

What if an employee has child-care restrictions due to the schools being closed?

Employees can take a reasonable amount of time off to take care of dependents, there is no set time limit for this and is dependent on the individual situation.

Employers must talk to employees to understand the individuals’ situation and hopefully mutually agree on next steps. These steps could include the following options.

Employers could look at:

  • Keeping an employee on furlough if they are temporarily unavailable to work;
  • Arrange for an employee to work different hours temporarily or the option of remaining working from home, working in a different department or area or short-time working;
  • Taking holiday;
  • Unpaid leave

If you would like further information on any of the above topics, please contact Clover HR on 0121 516 0299 or email us at info@cloverhr.co.uk

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