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COVID 19 – Update – The Job Retention Scheme to the end of October 2020

The Government has confirmed that from the start of August to the end of October, furloughed staff will be able to return to work part-time and their wage costs of 80% will be split between the government and their employer.

Many of our clients are asking how this split will work.  For example, if a full time employee is required to work part-time, say 50% of the FTE and the government picks up 50% of 80% of the normal rate of pay, does the employer pick up the remaining 50% of the 80% or should the time actually worked by paid at the normal rate of pay, as technically, the employee is no longer furloughed at the time he is at work, albeit on a part time basis?  The Government has given no guidance on this issue.

It is obvious that if the answer to the above is that the employee is only entitled to  50% of the 80%, then it is possible to envisage circumstances where the employee will be worse of.  For example, if the part-time work is 81% or more of FTE or where the rate of pay for hours work is already above the £2,500 threshold.  Can an employee refuse to return to work if the rate of pay works against him?

Employers and employees must bear in mind that the Furlough scheme does not disapply the grievance and disciplinary schemes, hence an employee who refuses to make himself available for work, could be subjected to the disciplinary process. At the same time, recalling employees on part-time basis and the rates of pay for actual time worked must be in line with the Furlough agreement reached with the employees at the commencement of the furlough scheme.

If any employer is considering bringing in furlough staff on a part-time basis, they will need to review the terms of the furlough agreement to determine the rate of pay for the time worked. In the absence of a written agreement, this could be problematic.

If you require further assistance call Seyi Clement.