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This History of Furlough…

So, March saw the new word furlough that we all know so well, being put into place to support employers who were unable to operate as normal due to the pandemic. Enabling employers for those furloughed to recover a portion of the employees wage cost. The cost of the scheme has been substantial, with it now set to last until the end of April 2021.

It’s had a few guises, originally up to the end of June 2020, furloughed staff could not work in any guise for their employer or an associated company. This changed on the 1 July with furloughed staff now able to return to work part time if required and the new buzz work flexible furlough.

Whilst funding changed from the 1 August, as of November we went back to the Government providing 80% of the wages for the time they do not work, and this is still the case for the moment.

Cue another buzz word, furlough fraud, this is the term when employers overclaim grant payments under the scheme by either receiving money they are not entitled to, or after a change has been made. To avoid penalties, employer should correct this error in their next claim, or make a payment directly to HMRC if the employer will not be making any future claims.

Again, those who have had an underclaim, can contact HMRC to amend their claim.

It’s worth noting that HMRC have the power to perform additional checks and remember keep all those workings for 5 years.

So we’re in 2021 now, what do I need to know…

Furlough and redundancy pay

Redundancy pay should be based on their normal wage rather than a reduced furlough rate, there was a new law which came into force on 31 July 2020.

It is now confirmed that claims for the furlough grant cannot be made for any member of staff working any form of notice. This includes notice associated with redundancy, retirement or dismissal.

Seek advice from a HR expert if you are looking at these options. We know a few so get in touch 😊

Furlough and working parents

If like our lot you’re working parents and you’re juggling the balance of schoolwork, children, and trying to keep your sanity. Well, you may be wondering if you can use furlough for these new issues with childcare. The short answer is yes – the furlough scheme can be used for employees who have children whose school is closed. However, employers need to remember the purpose of the Job Retention Scheme which is to help them cope with a reduction in demand due to the pandemic. If they have not seen this reduction, they should not be seeking to use the furlough scheme and may need to consider alternative options.

Furlough and shielding

Shielding has now returned to England, Scotland and Wales. This means that those who are considered extremely clinically vulnerable to COVID should not go into work even if they cannot work from home. In this situation, they are entitled to receive SSp which companies with less than 250 members of staff can seek to reclaim two weeks of through the SSP Rebate Scheme.

Alternatively, companies can furlough shielding staff, which would ultimately be more cost effective for them. Unlike the situation with working parents, the company does not need to have seen a business downturn to furlough staff who are shielding.

2021 still looks like its going to be a difficult one as we wait for the roll out of coronavirus vaccines, in the meantime employers should remember that the furlough scheme is there to help them if they are eligible to use it. If you’re look for advice on this and support, please jump on our contact us page and give us a shout!

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