- Business Secretary, Alok Sharma, led the briefing and announced that the Government has launched a Covid-19 taskforce to help efforts to develop a vaccine ‘as soon as possible.’
- Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme extended to end June (see below).
- Chief Scientific Officer, Sir Patrick Vallance, was confident that NHS capacity would not be breached during the pandemic.
Chancellor extends furlough scheme to end of June – This afternoon the Treasury have announced that the CJRS has been extended to the end of June. Previously it was in place from beginning March to end of May. This would appear to be because large employers, proposing to make over 100 employees redundant, would need to start the minimum 45 day consultation process imminently in order to be concluded by the end of May.
The main guidance has been updated again today and renamed:-
Check if you can claim for your employees’ wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – New information added on scheme extension, fraud, claims for employees you made redundant or who stopped working for you, fixed term contracts, agency workers and retaining records. Also, a new guide has been published with information on holiday pay, employees returning from family-related statutory leave and sick pay, how to treat grant payments in Real Time Information. Plus, more information on how to calculate the claim for 80% of your employees’ wages, how much you can claim for National Insurance and pension contributions and how to claim. 4:55pm, 17 April 2020
Rather confusing is the statement:-
To be eligible for the grant employers must confirm in writing to their employee confirming that they have been furloughed. If this is done in a way that is consistent with employment law, that consent is valid for the purposes of claiming the CJRS. There needs to be a written record, but the employee does not have to provide a written response. A record of this communication must be kept for five years.
This appears to contradict the rules of the scheme below that state:-
‘An employee has been instructed by the employer to cease all work in relation to their employment only if the employer and employee have agreed in writing (which may be in an electronic form such as an email) that the employee will cease all work in relation to their employment.’
So, the position appears to be that an employer does not have to obtain a written response from an employee to confirm the employee has been furloughed, but does have to have a written agreement that the employee will cease all work.
The formal rules of the CJRS are here:-
Treasury Direction made under Sections 71 and 76 of the Coronavirus Act 2020.
Also further guidance published today:-
Work out 80% of your employees’ wages to claim through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – Find out how to calculate 80% of your employee’s wages, National Insurance Contributions and pension contributions if you’ve furloughed staff due to coronavirus (COVID-19). First published 4:55pm, 17 April 2020
Furloughed employees continue to accrue leave as per their employment contract.
The employer and employee can agree to vary holiday entitlement as part of the furlough agreement, however almost all workers are entitled to 5.6 weeks of statutory paid annual leave each year which they cannot go below.
Employees can take holiday whilst on furlough. Working Time Regulations require holiday pay to be paid at the employee’s normal rate of pay or, where the rate of pay varies, calculated on the basis of the average pay received by the employee in the previous 52 working weeks. Therefore, if a furloughed employee takes holiday, the employer should pay them at 100% of their usual pay in accordance with the Working Time Regulations.
Employers will be obliged to pay the additional 20% over the grant, though will have the flexibility to restrict when leave can be taken if there is a business need. This applies for both the furlough period and the recovery period.
If an employee usually works bank holidays then the employer can agree that this is included in the grant payment. If the employee usually takes the bank holiday as leave then the employer would either have to top up their pay to 100% of usual pay, or give the employee a day of holiday in lieu.
During this unprecedented time, we are keeping the policy on holiday pay during furlough under review.
Claim a grant through the coronavirus (COVID-19) Self-employment Income Support Scheme
Further details were updated on 14th April. The online service that will be used to claim is not available yet. HMRC will aim to contact individuals by mid May 2020, and will make payments by early June 2020.
Latest Guidance (health)
New guidance today:-
COVID-19: guidance on shielding and protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable – Updated ‘Shielding and protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19’. 9:15am, 17 April 2020
If you have been told that you’re clinically extremely vulnerable, you should:
- follow the advice in this guidance
- register online even if you do not need additional support now
No new guidance today.
The general school guidance starts here:-
Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for schools and other educational settings
New guidance today:-
Guidance for consumers on coronavirus (COVID-19) and food – First published 10:55am, 17 April 2020
The general coronavirus guidance starts here:-