Can I rotate staff who are furloughed? Can I put someone on furlough, bring them back when I need to, and then put them back on furlough, as demand requires? And practically how can we deal with this for those who want to rotate?
You can rotate staff on furlough or flexible furlough.
One option is to make it clear in the letter agreeing to being furloughed that there is an open ended right to rotate and to be able to take them off furlough and bring them back and put them back on.
So the employer reserves the ability to rotate by building into the agreement, but only exercises it if it is permissible.
Rotation is quite key for employers who need to make a temporary reduction to their overheads but want to retain the skills base to call back when work picks up. Having furloughed staff return on a part-time basis may reduce the need to rotate.
It also helps in the employer being able to show that they are treating the workforce as fairly as possible and everyone is taking a reduction. Get in touch if you need help preparing the documentation for furlough that will permit rotation or flexible furlough.
Read more about flexible furlough and how this can be used as part of the CJRS.
You had until 23 April 2020 to submit your return in order to be considered for eligibility.
Lay off is a temporary measure where an employee is required not to do any work by their employer in any given week and does not receive any salary for that period. This is sometimes used interchangeably to refer to redundancies; however, this is not correct and lay-off is different to redundancy.
Lay-off may be very useful to achieve short or medium-term cost savings in response to a temporary reduction in demand for products or services. Whether the employer has the right to implement lay-offs and how swiftly they can expect to be able to do so will depend on whether the relevant contracts of employment have specific provisions which deal with lay-off.
Short time working is where an employer temporarily reduces an employee’s working hours, with a corresponding reduction in their pay to less than 50% of their usual salary. This could be through reducing the number of working days, reducing the length of working days or a combination of both.
Short time working provides the employer with the ability to reduce staffing costs whilst providing flexibility in deciding the form of working pattern. As with lay-off, whether the employer has the right to unilaterally impose short-time working and how swiftly they can expect to practically implement this will depend on whether the relevant contracts of employment contain a short time working clause.
Where there is a contractual right to lay off or impose short time working: There is no strict process which has to be followed. We would advise transparent communication and confirmation in writing.
Where there is no contractual right: Imposing these options without a contractual right to do so will be a fundamental breach of the employee’s contract of employment. In these circumstances the employee’s options are: accept the situation and keep working; claim for lost pay; resign and claim constructive dismissal. The best approach for employers in these circumstances is to instead seek to agree lay-off or short-time working arrangements with employees.
Selecting employees for lay-off or short time working: There is no prescribed method for selecting which employees are to be laid-off or placed on short-time working, provided that the employee cannot argue that the method of selection is discriminatory in some way. We would advise selection based on objective business reasons.
Entitlement to pay during lay-off or short time working: Employees must be paid for the time they work. Additionally, while on lay off or short time working, an employee is entitled to receive statutory guarantee pay for the first 5 workless days in any 3-month period. The maximum statutory guarantee pay in any 3-month period is £150 (i.e. £30 for each workless day up to a maximum of 5).
Entitlement to statutory redundancy pay: Once employees have been on lay-off or on short-time working for 4 consecutive weeks or for a combined total of 6 weeks during any 13-week period, they may seek to claim a statutory redundancy payment (provided that they have two years’ service). There is a prescriptive process for this – please seek advice.
The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (“CBILS“) is open for applications to provide small businesses with a loan of up to £5m to assist with the Covid-19 outbreak. The Scheme is aimed at businesses who are experiencing lost or deferred revenues, and who otherwise would be denied support from lenders, to be supported by a Government backed guarantee. The Scheme will initially run for six months with the possibility to be extended where required, so businesses should only approach a lender under the Scheme as and when they require assistance.
All employers have a duty to prevent illegal working, and carrying out proper Right to Work checks are a fundamental part of this. In light of Covid-19, the Home Office has brought in some temporary measures for employers to use to carry out the requisite Right to Work checks. Failure to follow these could lead to enforcement action and penalties.
No, there is no obligation on employers to offer a flexible furlough arrangement to staff. Operationally, flexible furlough may not be appropriate for your business and equally, returning on a part-time basis may not be suitable for individuals already furloughed for various reasons. Concerns about returning to work part-time or at all should be considered on a case-by-case basis.