CJRS v1 was initially introduced in March 2020, with the government paying 80% of employees’ wages.
CJRS has then evolved as the pandemic perpetually progressed and regressed.
Under the current and final CJRS v4, employers can claim 60% of employees’ usual wages for hours not worked, up to a cap of £1,875. Employers must top-up employee wages to at least 80% of their usual wage for the hours they do not work, up to a cap of £2,500 a month.
CJRS will close on 30 September 2021. There are currently no plans to extend it any further.
Employers will need to submit their final claims no later than 14th October and all amendments must be made by 28th October.
Read more on CJRS.
Employers that still have employees on furlough will need to make a decision on whether to migrate employees back into work on their previous contract, change their contracts to reduced hours, offer alternative job roles, and in extreme cases make redundancies.
Below, our specialist HR and Payroll department have outlined several strategies to transition employees out of furlough: –
If trading conditions allow, employees should return to their pre-furlough employment.
Employees should be given reasonable written notice that they are being brought back from furlough. In some cases, this could be a week’s notice, or it could even be as little as a day’s notice. Employers should also inform employees of the provisions put in place to safeguard their health and wellbeing when attending work and share with them the outcome of any risk assessment which has been carried out.
Where an employee refuses to attend work despite the business having appropriate health and safety measures in place, this could amount to unauthorised absence. Contact our specialist HR team for further advice.
Furloughed employees continue to accrue holiday entitlement (both statutory and other holiday specified in their employment contract) during the period of furlough. It is likely that many employees will return with a significant backlog of holiday entitlement. Under the Working Time (Coronavirus Amendment) Regulations 2020, staff can carry forward up to 4 weeks leave for up to 2 years if it was not ‘reasonably practicable’ for them to take their holidays for a COVID-related reason.
Employers can weigh up the benefits of introducing a private furlough model. Employees could agree not to work for an extended period of time (perhaps on lower pay than the CJRS), which might be attractive as an alternative to redundancy, especially if they can work elsewhere while on this ‘private’ furlough.
If an employee is not satisfied with any alternative solution, the last resort may be redundancy.
An important thing to note when considering redundancies is that employee’s rights have not been altered in any way and employers still need to go through the usual process – irrespective of if employers are making redundancies as a result of furlough or not.
As always, employers should approach this matter with caution and make relevant risk assessments.
Furlough grants cannot be paid towards your employees’ redundancy pay, and employers should have tried to take every route possible before making a redundancy as the original aim of furlough was to reduce the risk of redundancies from occurring.
It’s imperative that employers seek professional HR support to ensure that the process is fair and does not objectify or discriminate the employee. Such actions are likely to result in a case of ‘Unfair Dismissal’ which could result in a tribunal case.