The Government updated its guidance on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (‘the Scheme’) again last week, to provide greater clarity on extending furlough, returning employees to furlough after a period of work and whether employee representatives can remain on furlough whilst carrying out redundancy consultation duties.
The revised guidance provides:
- While an employee is on furlough, their furlough period can be extended by any amount of time whilst the Scheme remains in operation. As a result, we advise as follows:
- If, when you placed an employee on furlough, you provided that this would last for a specified period, you should write to the employee to confirm any extension of their furlough leave. Depending on how your original furlough letter was phrased, you may need to seek the employee’s agreement to the extension.
- If you used the Make UK template furlough letter, these issues should not arise as the wording in our letter provides for furlough to continue until one of a number of specified events occurs.
- If an employee comes back to work before being furloughed again, the next period of furlough leave must be at least three consecutive weeks. We advise as follows:
- If, when you first placed employees on furlough, you specified that you would operate a rotational furlough system and you are acting in accordance with that system, then you will not need to write again to employees when they are placed on furlough after a period of being back at work.
- However, if you did not specify that employees would be re-furloughed, or you are not acting in accordance with your original letter, then you will need to write to employees to confirm the start of new period of furlough and seek their agreement.
- If you are consulting on redundancies, union and employee representatives may undertake duties and activities for the purpose of individual or collective consultation whilst they are on furlough, so long as they do not provide services to you or generate revenue for you or a linked organisation. We advise as follows:
- Employee and union representatives, in carrying out their representative role, are not generating revenue or providing services to the employer – if anything, they are providing services to their fellow employees.
- You can consult with employees whilst they are on furlough.
- Managers and HR who are running the consultation process will be working and so cannot be on furlough.
How we can help you handle redundancies
However, it is inevitable that some employers will be considering redundancies. Make UK can help in a variety of ways:
- Our webinar, Redundancies in the Context of Covid-19 considers the legal and practical challenges of running a redundancy process during the current pandemic. Contact us on 0808 168 5874 to access the webinar, or look out for the events page later this week.
- Members have access to our wide ranging practical web resources which assist at each step of the redundancy process.
- Members can contact their regular adviser or the National Adviceline (0333 202 2221) for legal advice on their particular circumstances.
- We can provide online training for employee representatives and managers - please contact Nicola Kibble from our HR & Legal Commercial Services Team.
- Our HR consultants can provide remote consultancy to employees in any location as groups or individuals, on a diverse range of HR issues that may arise when you’re considering redundancies, including people management, leadership and succession planning and outplacement. For further details, please contact Nicola Kibble from our HR & Legal Commercial Services Team.
How we can help with other Covid-19 issues
We continue to monitor developments and keep our Coronavirus FAQs up to date. We recommend that you check our FAQs for updates on a regular basis, given the frequency of updates to Government guidance.
During the Covid-19 crisis, we are also offering non-members access to our HR and Employment Law Helpline on a monthly subscription basis. To sign up for a one month subscription, call us on 0808 168 5874.