Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – June Update

It’s hard to keep up with everything that’s being introduced in relation to the COVID19 Pandemic, so here’s our round up of the latest news and info.

Summary of the changes to the JRS announced on Friday 29th May 2020

The Furlough Scheme will be closed to new entrants, and employees must have been on Furlough for 3 weeks prior to 30 June 2020 in order to qualify for the new scheme. This means employees will need to have been placed on Furlough by 10 June 2020 to qualify for any future payments under the revised scheme. This appears a little unclear at the moment, and no doubt further clarification will follow.

In June, the current scheme will stay as it is with the government continuing to pay 80% or a maximum of £2500 per month towards an employee’s salary.  Employers NI and Pension payments are reclaimable.

In July, the current scheme will stay as it is with the government continuing to pay 80% or a maximum of £2500 per month towards an employee’s salary. Employers NI and Pension payments are reclaimable.

From the 1st July, the Government will introduce the concept of “Flexible Furlough.”  The example given by the Chancellor was for a full time employee who normally works 5 days a week, but you only need them to work for 2 of those 5 days, the employer will pay them for 2 days at their normal level of pay and the Furlough Scheme payments will apply to the remaining 3 days that the employee isn’t working.

In August the Government will continue paying the current level of salary contribution of 80% (up to a maximum of £2,500). However, employers will now be required to pay employers’ National Insurance contributions and employer pension contributions, which were reclaimable previously.

In September, the Government contribution will reduce to 70% with employers being required to pay 10% of each employee’s pre-furlough salary plus employers’ National Insurance contributions and employer pension contributions.

In October, the Government contribution will reduce to 60% with employers being required to pay 20% of each employee’s pre-furlough salary plus employers’ National Insurance contributions and employer pension contributions.

Statutory Sick Pay reclaim available from 26th May 2020

The government has announced the launch of a new online service to let small and medium-sized employers claim back some coronavirus-related Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).

Originally announced several weeks ago, the government has finally confirmed when the Coronavirus SSP Rebate Scheme is set to be open for applications. The scheme covers staff SSP payments for up to two weeks of sickness absence when the absence is related to the coronavirus outbreak. Any additional, contractual sick pay is not included.

Through use of the scheme, organisations will be able to apply for rebates on SSP paid to staff who were off work due to having coronavirus symptoms on or after 13 March 2020. Rebates will also be available to staff who started ‘shielding’ in line with government guidance on or after 16 April 2020. To be eligible to apply, organisations will need to have had less than 250 members of staff on 28 February 2020.

The Scheme is set to cover any members of staff who were on a PAYE payroll scheme created and started before 28 February 2020. This includes: full-time employees, part-time employees, employees on agency contracts, employees on flexible or zero-hour contracts.

Furloughed staff are not included as, due to being furloughed, employees should not be receiving SSP.

Companies will need to make use of an online portal in order to submit claims. They will need to submit record of all SSP paid to employees that they wish to claim for, but will not need to submit evidence of illness, such as an employee’s fit note. They will also need to have a Government Gateway ID. In order to make the application process simpler, it is expected that alternative methods of applying, without using the online portal, will be announced soon.

Could we get another bank Holiday this year?

With the coronavirus pandemic causing lockdowns and the furloughing of staff across the country, many may be forgiven for forgetting about the bank holidays we’ve had over the last few weeks! However, the tourism industry certainly hasn’t, with Visit Britain’s acting head, Patricia Yates, outlining that the industry has essentially ‘lost’ four bank holidays and the associated revenue in April/ May due to the lockdown.

Yates argues that permitting an additional bank holiday in October would help the tourism industry to extend the season and ultimately try to recover some of the losses seen in 2020. Downing Street is currently said to be “considering the proposal,” however a spokesperson has admitted that ‘it is worth acknowledging that extra bank holidays come with additional costs’. They are expected to respond to this ‘in due course’.

Whilst we wait for further commentary from the government, organisations may be nervous at this news, especially if they have had to close or seen business decrease during the lockdown. There is no automatic right to take bank holidays off work and whether organisations will need to permit staff to take this additional time off, should it be confirmed, will depend upon their contracts of employment.

Where contracts state employees are entitled to time of on ‘all bank holidays’, without expressing particular dates, they will be contractually entitled to take this extra day. On the other hand, organisations whose contract specifically states bank holiday dates that can be taken off will not automatically need to permit this. In this situation, staff can be expected to attend work as normal.

Even where employees are not contractually entitled to have the day off, organisations may choose to let them take it as paid leave or unpaid leave or permit them to work the time back at a later date. As 2020’s coronavirus crisis has likely been very challenging on a workforce, taking this action may be a good way of maintaining morale and productivity, especially if competitor organisations do decide to permit time off during an additional Bank Holiday.

Summary and how we can help

Once again, lots to take on board, so if you want to understand how this impacts you, your business and how you look at furloughing, re-structuring or downsizing, then why not book yourself a seat on our next update on Friday 5th June at 10am? There will be a full update on these changes, as well as an opportunity to ASK ME ANYTHING! You can book your place here;

https://merakihr.com/events/furlough-update-and-ask-me-anything-session/