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Business Services  •  Coronavirus Advice  •  Payroll Tax

Changes to the furlough scheme  

By RJP LLP on 17 November 2020

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough scheme) has been extended until 31 March 2021. The original scheme launched in March 2020 has changed gradually over the months, allowing flexible working, people coming on and off furlough and there are now some other important differences to be aware of. These are mainly restrictions to accessing the grant, in an attempt to reduce the cost to the Treasury. The details are as follows:

Maternity leave

Anyone wishing to return early from maternity leave must give at least eight weeks’ notice of their intentions and they cannot join furlough scheme until these eight weeks are up. This means employers need to ensure that employees considering an early return to work understand the situation.

Notice periods

Employees who are serving a notice period can no longer claim furlough grants from December. In addition, a worker who is on furlough cannot be made redundant or given notice of redundancy during a furlough claim period for the employee(s). Previously there were no restrictions on this.

Annual leave

There are no changes to the rules on taking annual leave while furloughed and any employees that do should be paid in full during this time. An employer cannot reduce an employees annual leave entitlement because they are on furlough.

Sick leave

Furloughed staff who fall ill can either remain furloughed or be transferred to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if they qualify. It is down to the employer to decide which option is preferable. There may be changes to this in the future.

TUPE staff

Depending on the dates of transfer, it may be possible for employees moving onto another business under the TUPE regulations to be furloughed.  This should be verified by an employment law expert.

The furlough scheme is generous but complex. Employers should take precautions to ensure they stick to the latest guidelines when claiming furlough money and be aware that it is changing. You can expect further changes and as we become aware of any new rules, we will issue updates.

If you need any help with furlough claims please contact partners@rjp.co.uk.

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