Managing your workforce through Covid-19

With support schemes changing frequently, it has been difficult for employers to keep up with new conditions.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has been extended until 31st March 2021. The CJRS is in place to provide economic support and security to people and businesses over the coming months.

We have answered some key questions about the CJRS and furlough to help you manage your workforce throughout the pandemic.

What financial support is available for employers?

Workers will receive 80 per cent of their normal salary (up to £2,500) funded by the Government. Employers will still be required to pay the National Insurance and pension contributions for employees. This mirrors the scheme that was in place in August.

The flexibility of the current furlough scheme will remain – meaning employers can request employees to work some of their hours and be furloughed for the rest.

Are all employees eligible?

Yes. An employee does not need to have been previously furloughed to be eligible. An employee must have been on an employer’s PAYE payroll on or before 30th October 2020.

What can I do if employees don't want to return to work?

If you have employees who are hesitant to return to work, consult with them to understand their concerns.

The next step is to consider what alternatives are available. Is the employee able to work from home or elsewhere? If an alternative is not available, you can seek advice regarding whether the employee is raising a genuine health and safety concern.

If the concern is genuine, you need to act with caution. If the employee is taking advantage of the current situation, it could be deemed as unauthorised absence.

Are there any additional restrictions for those employees who are particularly vulnerable?

The Government has updated its shielding advice. Employees who receive a new shielding notification advising them that they should shield, should work from home. If the employee cannot reasonably carry out their role from home, then they should not attend work.

As an employer you have a duty of care to all employees and if your business can stay open, you should consider your risk assessment for any employees who are clinically extremely vulnerable and consider whether it is reasonable or necessary for them to attend the workplace.

Is there any updated guidance surrounding employees who are defined as clinically extremely vulnerable attending the workplace?

The current advice is all employees should work from home where possible. However, employees can attend the workplace if they cannot reasonably carry out their role from home. This is the case even when the employee falls into the clinically extremely vulnerable category.

What happens if an employee is sick whilst furloughed?

The employer can choose whether to put the employee on Statutory Sick Pay or they can stay on the furlough scheme. If they get enhanced sick pay under their contract, furlough pay should be topped up by the employer.

Can I make redundancies whilst employees are furloughed?

Yes, an employee can be made redundant while on furlough. It is important to note that an employee’s redundancy rights will not be impacted by being furloughed.

Can we claim furlough an employee during their contractual or statutory notice period?

The Government has confirmed that employers must not make a claim under the CJRS for an employee who is serving their notice period from the period beginning on 1st December 2020.

Can we furlough employees during their annual leave?

No, you cannot place employees on furlough just because they are going to be on paid leave. The Government guidance states you can only place employees on furlough if COVID-19 is affecting your operations.

  • To read this feature in full and access further Lancashire business news, advice and analysis subscribe to Lancashire Business View magazine or join the LBV Hub from just £2.50 per month. Click here to subscribe now.