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Coronavirus: Frequently Asked Questions

Disclaimer: The government is in the process of defining and agreeing all measures for supporting businesses during the COVID19 pandemic, and therefore the information below is subject to change and may not always be fully up to date. This page was last updated on Thursday 30th April 2020 at 1.21pm

One of my employees is self-isolating due to themselves or a member of their household showing symptoms of COVID-19. Are they entitled to sick pay?

At present, the guidelines state that Statutory Sick Pay is payable from Day 1 of self-isolation, and the first two weeks can be reclaimed from the government. The Government guidance is here. Remember that if the employee is able to work from home during the 14 day period, they do not need to be placed on sick leave.

One of my employees is in a high-risk group and has been told to self isolate for 12 weeks. How much sick pay are they entitled to?

If an employee falls into the at risk category and has to isolate for three months (they should receive an NHS letter to confirm this), the Government are now classing this as ‘shielding’ rather than self-isolation and in turn, they can be furloughed. Statutory Sick Pay will only apply to those who are choosing to self-isolate or are showing symptoms. Remember that if the employee is able to work from home during the three month period, they do not need to be furloughed.

One of my employees has to take time off to look after their children. What can we do to support them?

Under normal circumstances, this would be classed as time off for dependents which is unpaid leave. However, employees are able to use their annual leave entitlement if they are not able to come into work. Additionally the government has now confirmed that employees who have caring responsibilities resulting from coronavirus can be furloughed.

One of my employees is refusing to come into work. What are my rights?

Other than key workers, at present we should only be traveling to work if it is not possible to work from home. If it is not possible to work from home then you can’t make an employee come into work. Employees are entitled to use their annual leave entitlement if they don’t want to come into work.

Do workers furloughed under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme retain their employment rights during the furlough period.

Employees stay employed during the furloughed period and their employment rights remain unchanged. They will remain on the payroll and continue to accrue continuous service and annual leave.

Can I furlough my employees without their consent?

It is most likely that your employees will agree to be furloughed, as this will give them at least 80% of their usual pay, whereas the other options might be redundancy, dismissal under SOSR conditions, or unpaid leave for an indefinite period.

Can employees be asked to work during the furloughed period?

Employees cannot undertake work for their employer while they are furloughed. Employees can, however, volunteer or train, as long as this does not involve an activity that yields revenue for the company. However, if employees are required to complete online training courses whilst furloughed then they must be paid at least the National Mimimum Wage / National Living Wage for the time spent training, even if this is more than the 80% of their wage that will be subsidised.

I made employees redundant before the CJRS was announced. Can I reverse this decision?

The CJRS only covers employees who were made redundant since 28th February 2020 if they are rehired by their employer.

I had already reduced my employees' hours / pay before the CJRS was announced. Can I reverse this decision?

If an employee is working, but on reduced hours or reduced pay they are not eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. You must continue to pay them through your payroll subject to the terms of the employment contract you agreed.

Can an employee be furloughed for a short space of time and then re-employed?

An employee must be furloughed for a minimum of 3 weeks to be eligible to claim under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Are Company Directors eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme?

Yes, the government have recently confirmed that Directors are eligible for the scheme.

Do employees pay tax on furloughed pay?

Employees will pay Income tax and National Insurance on payments received through the scheme.

Do employers pay employer National Insurance and employer pension contributions on furlough pay?

Employers will be able to apply for a grant to cover employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrollment pension contributions.

My employees usually receive commission with their salary. Will this be included in their furlough pay?

Discretionary fees, commission and bonuses should not be included in the calculation for furlough pay.

Can employees be furloughed after being paid Statutory Sick Pay during self-isolation?

Once an employee is no longer off sick or no longer required to self isolate they can be furloughed at that stage.

What happens if an employee's furloughed earnings fall below national minimum wage?

Furloughed employees can be paid the lower of 80% of salary or £2500 even if it brings them below the NMW.