Update to Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

On Friday 5 June, the government published some updates to its Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) guidance, although it remains the case that the final date by which an employer needs to agree with their employee and place them on furlough is Wednesday 10 June.

The other key dates are set out in our post here.

The government has also confirmed that “from 1 July, employers can bring back to work employees that have previously been furloughed for any amount of time and any shift pattern, while still being able to claim the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme grant for their normal hours not worked. When claiming the grant for furloughed hours employers will need to report and claim for a minimum period of a week.”

Further guidance on how the ‘flexible’ furlough scheme will work in practice will be published on Friday 12 June, two days after the final date for placing employees on furlough has passed.

The updates also include:

  • Additional information to assist employers in deciding the length of their claim period (available here);
  • Details about how to repay HMRC if an employer makes an error in a claim that results in an over-claimed amount (available here); and
  • The publication of supplementary guidance for research organisations using the scheme (available here).

Calls for support for those self-isolating and the clinically vulnerable

 The shadow home secretary, Nick Thomas-Symonds has called on the government to provide more financial support to those who have to self-isolate under the new NHS Test and Trace system.

Currently, unless the employer operates a more generous company sick pay scheme, employees who are told to self-isolate for 14 days under the NHS Test and Trace scheme (or those who are self-isolating because someone in their household has symptoms of the virus, for example) are only eligible for SSP, at a rate of £95.85 a week.

This leaves the employee in the invidious position of losing out on their normal salary for following the guidance to self-isolate, even where they don’t have any symptoms themselves.

There are also calls to extend the CJRS for certain sectors and for vulnerable workers. Currently, state support under the scheme will be scaled back from August for all sectors and workers, with employers required to contribute to maintain wages of at least 80% (up to £2,500) for workers.

Business groups and Labour have warned that this blanket approach could result in widespread job losses in sectors such as pubs, theatres and restaurants, where it is envisaged the restrictions will last for longer, and for those who are particularly vulnerable to the virus and are therefore unable to return to work.

Despite this, it appears that the government does not intend to extend or amend the CJRS for particular sectors or vulnerable workers, although further guidance on the scheme will be issued on Friday.

 If you have any questions about the scheme or returning to work, please contact the employment team.