Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – Update

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Coronavirus: Job Retention Scheme- Update

Further to our update published on 24 March 2020, we are still awaiting details from the government as to how the Job Retention Scheme will work.
Yesterday afternoon in Parliament (24th March), the Government were asked when we can expect to receive further detail and guidance regarding the Job Retention Scheme and Furlough workers. After originally suggesting it would be issued within 48 hours of Friday’s announcement, the answer now is that it can be expected within the next 7-10 days. Clearly this is something to consider as part of your staffing strategy. For further help and advice, speak to a member of the Howarths team.
There have been very few developments in the past 24 hours, however we do now know the following:

  • The Job Retention Scheme is likely to cover zero hours workers although we don’t yet know exactly how
  • The Government will possess a right to retrospectively audit all employer claims for wages under the Job Retention Scheme with an ability to claw back fraudulent and misguided claims. Details of the extent and application of the Government’s powers in this regard have not been provided and we still don’t know what the consequences for employers who make fraudulent claims will be.
  • Employees will not be entitled to any redundancy whilst in receipt of payments under the Job Retention Scheme

In addition to those unanswered questions highlighted in our update from 24 March 2020, clarity is sought on the following points:

  • Whether an employer specifically needs to get an employee’s consent to be furloughed or whether straightforward consultation and negotiation will suffice.
  • Whether employers still have to continue to pay all benefits in kind during furlough and what happens if an employer cannot afford to do this
  • Whether employees who have already been laid off can be furloughed retrospectively

We had hoped that full details of the furlough scheme would have been provided by now however we are continuously monitoring the situation and will continue to update you as we get more information through.

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