Towards the end of 2020, the Chancellor announced the furlough scheme’s extension until 30 April 2021, which will continue to contribute 80 per cent towards employees’ wages.
Despite some similarities to the initial scheme in March 2020, this time around the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has further restrictions on its usage than before, most likely to keep its continual cost low. The main changes to consider are below.
Employees on annual leave
The rules on taking annual leave while furloughed remain the same. Employers must pay their employees in full for this time.
Employees serving a notice period
With the rules of the initial CJRS, there were no restrictions regarding furloughed employees who were also serving their notice period, and they could be subject to redundancy whilst on the scheme.
However, now, employers cannot claim furlough grants for employees serving contractual or statutory notice periods from 1 December 2020 – be that for notice of redundancy, resignation or retirement.
Employees on Statutory Maternity Leave
Employees on maternity leave who wished to return early while the first CJRS was running got initially placed on furlough providing they gave at least eight weeks’ notice of their requested return. Of course, employers had to wait the eight weeks until furloughing their staff member.
Under the extended CJRS, the notice period could be shorter in certain circumstances.
Employees on sick leave
The Government guidance states that employers can decide if they keep an employee on the furlough scheme or put them on sick leave, in the event of illness. If the choice is sick leave, employers need to pay their employee the necessary Statutory Sick Pay, if they qualify.
Struggling businesses that are at the brunt of the pandemic will have until 31 March 2021 until the deadline for applications for government-guaranteed Covid-19 business loans closes – a two-month extension.