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Law at Work updates guidance for job retention scheme during COVID-19 pandemic

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13 April 2020

Law at Work (LAW) have updated their Coronavirus Resource centre in light of further changes to the Job Retention Scheme published last night (9th April).

A summary of the changes is as follows:

Purpose of the scheme: the language used to describe the purpose of the scheme has been loosened slightly, and now reads that the scheme should be used where an employer has been "severely impacted” and "cannot maintain” its current workforce. The guidance also clarifies that "the Government recognises different businesses will face different impacts from coronavirus”. In addition, the prerequisite that shielding employees must be facing redundancy has been removed. It would appear that this signals a widening of the scheme to cover more employees than was previously the case.

Foreign nationals: the updated guidance confirms that, even if a foreign national is on a visa which stipulates that they have "no recourse to public funds”, they will still be entitled to protection from the scheme.
Shielding employees (and their carers): the requirement that an employee had to be "unable to work from home” and the employer would "otherwise have to make them redundant” has been removed. It now appears that shielded employees and their carers are covered provided their employer has been "severely affected” and "cannot maintain the workforce”.

Sick / isolating employees:
while the previous guidance confirmed that those on sick or isolation leave could not be furloughed, the new guidance allows employers and employees to agree that sick or isolation leave can be brought to an end early in order to allow the employee to be furloughed. If the employer is eligible to claim a 14 day SSP rebate they can still do so, but only up to the point of furlough.

TUPE: staff transferring after 28th Feb are covered, and the transferee is eligible to claim.

No work during furlough: the requirement that an employee carries out no work for their employer now extends to associated or linked organisations.

Annual leave: no official update has been given to confirm the position regarding annual leave and furlough. As per our last update, it appears that HMRC has been issuing advice to businesses confirming that annual leave can be taken during furlough

Access the LAW coronavirus resource centre here