Following the Prime Ministers announcement last night, you will be aware that the furlough scheme has been extended until December and that the Job Support Scheme will now not start at the current time but will start once the furlough scheme ends.

Guidance issued so far is here:

New National Restrictions from 5 November

Furlough Scheme Extended and Further Economic Support announced

The key points of what we know so far about the furlough scheme being extended are:

  • The terms will go back to what they were in August, so the Government will contribute 80% of wages up to £2,500 per month, with employers contributing NI and pension contributions.
  • If you do remain open but have decreased trade, you can continue to use the scheme as flexible furlough operated and will still be asked to contribute NI and pension contributions only on the hours not worked.
  • There will be a short period when legal terms of the scheme are needed to be updated, along with the system and businesses will be paid in arrears for that period.
  • To be eligible employees must be on your payroll and an RTI must have been submitted by 23:59 on 30th October 2020.  If you had any new starters due to start after this date who now cannot start, you will need to either agree to delay their start date or terminate their contract by paying the notice period in their contract if they have already signed and agreed the start date.
  • Employees who have not been previously furloughed will now be able to be furloughed.
  • Employers can top up the amount provided by the Government if they wish.
  • The Government will confirm shortly when claims can be made in respect of wage costs for November, but there will be no gap in eligibility for support.
  • Minimum reporting and claiming period is 7 consecutive days.

Guidance is still to work from home where possible, which will depend on the company and the job role.   Other work that cannot be done from home can continue as normal if the workplace is Covid secure.

In terms of those who are clinically vulnerable and clinically extremely vulnerable (guidance on people in these groups is in point 9 here: New National Restrictions from 5 November

  • Those who are clinically vulnerable should be especially careful to follow rules and minimise contact with others.  These individuals can still attend the workplace if they cannot work from home as long as the workplace is Covid secure.
  • Those who are extremely clinically vulnerable (previous shielders) are being advised to work from home.  If they cannot work from home, they may be eligible for SSP or Employment Support Allowance.  It is not yet clear whether furlough is an option for these individuals as it was previously, but I would hope that it is.  Further guidance on this group will be issued on Monday 2 November.  The Government is also expected to write to everybody who is clinically extremely vulnerable setting out detailed advice while the new restrictions are in place.

In terms of issuing documentation to staff:

  1. If they have previously been issued with a furlough/flexible furlough agreement that stated the agreement ends when the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme closes or if we decide to stop the scheme, that agreement still stands and you will not need to reissue a new one.  If your agreement did not state this and had an end date or you have written to them confirming the end, you will need to re-issue the agreement or send them a communication to confirm the original agreement now comes into force.
  2. For any individuals who have not been previously furloughed but now need to be, they will need to be issued a new agreement.
  3. If you have issued JSS documentation to staff, you will need to ensure that individuals are aware this scheme will not be used at present.  As per point one if they have already been issued a furlough/flexible furlough agreement/ they may be covered by this but you may wish to send a communication to confirm this.

Business premises which are forced to close will also receive grants worth up to £3,000 per month but the amount will depend on the rateable value: properties with a rateable value of £15k and under = £1334 per month, rateable value of £15k-£51k = £2,000 per month, rateable value of £51k or over = £3,000 per month.

Further updates are expected in the next few days.