Updated Information on the Furlough Scheme

You may have seen that the Government has issued some new information on the furlough scheme – some of which confirmed what we knew, clarified what we thought, and some of which is new information;

  • Employees can start a new job when on furlough, meaning that they may end up earning 80% of salary from one employer, and 100% of a new salary. Whilst not explicitly prohibited in earlier guidance, it is now expressly allowed. This means that employees you have furloughed can work elsewhere during that period, unless your contract forbids it.
  • Employees who are unable to work because they have caring responsibilities resulting from coronavirus (COVID-19) can be furloughed. For example, employees that need to look after children can be furloughed.
  • An employer can claim back 80% of compulsory – which we presume means contractual – commission as well as basic salary from HMRC from past sales.
  • Employers cannot claim back for non monetary benefits, e.g. value of health insurance or a car.
  • Directors of a Company can be furloughed and can maintain directorial responsibilities in line with their responsibilities under the Companies Act, but no other work for the Company.
  • Employees can be furloughed many times, as long as the period of each furlough is not less than three weeks; so an a employee could be furloughed for three weeks, work a week and be re-furloughed. The only apparent limiting factor is that each furlough period must be for a minimum of three weeks.
  • Employers must notify their staff in writing confirming their furloughed status, which would include if un-furloughed and re-furloughed.
  • There is as yet no express detail on whether taking annual or statutory holidays might break a furlough; that said, if the opportunity exists to un-furlough and re-furlough, then provided the three week stipulation is maintained it may be permissible. We continue to await absolute clarification of this point.
  • Apprentices can be furloughed as previously advised – however any work training undertaken must be paid at apprentice minimum wage rates.
  • Administrators can access the Job Retention Scheme provided there is a reasonable likelihood of rehiring the employees
  • Those shielding in accordance with public health guidance can be furloughed and so can anyone who is staying off with anyone who is shielding who can’t work from home, as an alternative to making them redundant
  • Claims can be made under the scheme for enhanced maternity, paternity, adoption or shared parental pay – which seems to suggest that you can be on mat leave, etc and be paid SMP but also be furloughed for the extra contractual element.

The full details can be found here. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme
As always, we remain available to deal with queries on this from our members.