The full guidance comprises some 13 separate documents and whilst the scheme largely reflects what was already in place, there are some notable differences and key areas that employers should be aware of:
- From 01 November 2020, employers can claim 80% of an employee’s usual salary for hours not worked up to a maximum of £2,500 per month, provided that the employee was on the payroll and an RTI submission was made by 23:59 on 30 October 2020.
- For claims from 01 November 2020, employers need only cover the employer’s National Insurance Contributions and pension costs. This position is due to be reviewed in January 2021.
- Employers need not have previously furloughed the employees who they intend to furlough from 01 November 2020.
- Where employees have been made redundant – or have otherwise stopped working for an employer – on or after 23 September 2020, they can be re-employed and placed on furlough.
- Employers should still ensure that, where employees are being furloughed (or are having their period of furlough extended), the details of the amendments to their contracts are set out clearly in writing and sent to them. The written record should be kept securely on file for five years.
- Whilst not required under the guidance, it remains best practice for employers to obtain employees’ written agreement to any changes and to keep this securely on file.
- Employers can put in place retrospective furlough agreements that have effect from 01 November 2020, provided that they comply with the Government’s updated guidance and so long as the agreements are in place by 23:59 on 13 November 2020.
- Flexible furlough remains in place to allow staff to work part-time in order to meet business needs. Any worked hours will be paid by the employer at 100% of an employee’s usual salary, who can then claim, under the CJRS, for 80% of their usual salary for the remaining unworked hours.
- During non-worked hours, employees are still unable to do any work that makes money for their employer, but they can take part in training, do volunteer work for other organisations and work for other employers.
- Employees will continue to accrue holiday during periods of furlough. Employers can require employees to take annual leave whilst they are furloughed, provided sufficient notice is given and any period of annual leave is paid at the employee’s usual salary.
It is worth noting that the guidance indicates that the Government is reviewing whether employers can claim for employees who are serving their contractual or statutory notice. Whilst this will still be possible during November 2020, the Government’s approach for such claims made on or after 01 December 2020 is likely to change and we expect to receive further updated guidance on this towards the end of November. Employers should remember that any notice or redundancy pay should be calculated based on the employee’s normal wage, rather than their reduced furlough wage.
The updated guidance also confirms that for those employees who are classed as clinically extremely vulnerable and are following public health guidance, which strongly advises them to stay at home, can be furloughed, provided that they were on the employer’s payroll on 30 October 2020. The guidance suggests this applies equally to those who have caring responsibilities resulting from COVID-19, including employees that need to look after children.