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Latest update from Pennine HR 4th November 2020

COVID-19: Lockdown 2 and Furlough Extension

COVID-19:  Lockdown 2 and Furlough Extension

From Thursday 5th November 2020 until at least Wednesday 2nd December, England will enter a second period of lockdown with specific and stringent restrictions on work, travel and daily life.  To help alleviate the financial impact on businesses and individuals, the Government has also decided to extend the CJRS furlough scheme for another month.  We summarise the key points in this bulletin.

Lockdown 2

The new lockdown restrictions are less severe than they were first time round and they supersede the regional tiered restrictions that have been in place hitherto.

When the first lockdown restrictions were eased and businesses allowed to re-open that key phrase “everyone who can work effectively from home must do so” was included in the guidance and it’s here again.  It’s not clear who makes the decision about what effective looks like and whether the employer or employee makes their own definition.  Directors and business owners have a duty to run their business as best they can and at the same time have a duty of care relating to the health and wellbeing of employees.

For those businesses not forced to close, we feel that the open / closed decision is one for individual business owners to wrestle with and agree with employees – potentially on an individual basis.

 

Furlough Extension

The date of 31st October 2020 had seemingly been set in stone as the date the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme would close and the Job Support Scheme (JSS) had been set up to replace it as the vehicle for support payments to employers and employees.

On Halloween, the PM announced that the furlough scheme has been extended to the end of November.  Subsequent to that, the Treasury announced that the implementation of JSS would be postponed for a month so that two schemes are not running concurrently.

Over the last six months, the furlough scheme has become a normal part of business life, but there are important elements to the extension that business owners and employees need to be aware of:

 

  • The scheme is open to all employees who were on payroll as of 30th October 2020 whether they were on the original scheme or not
  • It will continue to operate as the flexible furlough
  • The Government will top up wages to 80% of normal (capped at £2,500 per month)
  • Employers will have to pay NI and Pension contributions but will not be required to contribute to the 80%. They can choose to top up to 100% as before.
  • There needs to be agreement in writing between employee and employer
    • If you are using the agreements we drafted they should still pertain because they say “to the end of the scheme”
    • New agreements will be needed for employees being added to the scheme

As ever, we will share information, our take on things and how they might affect businesses when we can.  We are here to provide support and guidance on all HR and people management issues.  Our office will remain open and we continue to follow COVID safety guidelines to make our business as resilient and safe as possible.

If you have any specific questions or challenges please contact us