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Furlough Extension: Further Guidance Released

Following the government’s announcement last week that furlough is to be extended until 31 March 2021, further guidance on the scheme has now been published. Our Employment team provides an overview.

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Following the government’s announcement last week that furlough is to be extended until 31 March 2021, further guidance on the scheme has now been published.

If you missed our furlough extension update last week, click here for the key points of the scheme including how much employers can claim, how the scheme can be used, cash grants for businesses which have been forced to close and employee eligibility.

In addition to what we knew last week, the government has now specified that:

  1. The government is reviewing whether employers should be able to claim for employees serving contractual or statutory notice periods and will change the approach for claim periods starting on or after 1 December 2020. This means that employers may not be able to use the furlough scheme for any employees’ notice periods (including for redundancy dismissals) from 1 December 2020. Further guidance on this will be available in late November.
  2. From December 2020, HMRC will publish employer names for companies (as well as their company registration numbers) and LLPs for those who have made claims under the scheme from December 2020 onwards.
  3. If an employer has overclaimed for furlough, they should pay this back to HMRC immediately. More guidance on this can be found here. This may be particularly important reputationally now that employers will be identified from December onwards as someone could report employers which they suspect are misusing the scheme or using the scheme fraudulently.
  4. Clinically extremely vulnerable individuals are those individuals who have received a letter from the government or their GP informing them that they should be shielding and therefore not attending a physical workplace. Employers can furlough these individuals if their work cannot be done from home and they were on payroll before 30 October 2020 – even if there is work for that employee to do in the physical workplace.
  5. Holiday entitlement provisions under furlough have not changed. This means that when an employee on furlough takes annual leave their pay should be topped up to 100% to avoid any breach of contract claims. Unless the employment contract states otherwise employers can force employees to take annual leave, even on furlough, as long as the employee is given twice as much notice as the annual leave they will be made to take. For example, if an employer wants an employee to take one day’s annual leave they would need to give two days’ notice.
  6. There is no limit on the number of employees an employer can claim for.
  7. The employer must confirm to the employee in writing that they have been furloughed and keep a written record of this for five years. Wherever possible, furlough should be agreed with the employee as it could constitute a contract variation.

Full details of the government’s further guidance can be found here.

If you have any questions about furlough, coronavirus planning or any other employment related queries then the Collyer Bristow Employment team is on hand to help.

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Kathryn Burke

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kathryn.burke@collyerbristow.com