What are the limitations of furloughing staff for publicly funded organisations?
The guidance from the Government concerning private sector organisations is very different from the guidance for public sector and organisations that receive public funding. The guidance states:
“The government expects that the scheme will not be used by many public sector organisations, as the majority of public sector employees are continuing to provide essential public services or contribute to the response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Where employers receive public funding for staff costs, and that funding is continuing, we expect employers to use that money to continue to pay staff in the usual fashion – and correspondingly not furlough them. This also applies to non-public sector employers who receive public funding for staff costs. Organisations who are receiving public funding specifically to provide services necessary to respond to Covid-19 are not expected to furlough staff.”
This guidance isn’t particularly clear but it appears that there is a recognition that there are different types of organisations which could be caught by this:
- Organisations who will be required to provide frontline services during the Covid-19 response. It is interpreted that NHS organisations such as NHS Trusts will fall firmly into this category. Employees of such organisations are expected not to be furloughed and to continue to work and be paid their normal salary in the usual way.
- Organisations who receive public funding to provide services to respond to the Covid-19 crisis. These organisations are not expected to furlough their staff. The type of organisation that would fit into this category are those that have been commissioned to developing breathing apparatus or testing kits to meet the needs of the healthcare sector during the peak of the pandemic.
- Organisations who receive public funds for staff costs to operate services. Employers are expected to continue to pay staff if the money to pay them is publicly funded. It is strongly inferred that this is irrespective of whether such staff have any work to perform. The type of organisation that is likely to fall into this category are GP practices, charities and private sector companies that have won contracts with the public sector.
You will claim a pro rata’d amount of 80% of salary, based on the proportion of hours not worked out of the employee’s normal working hours (their “usual” hours).
There are 2 ways to calculate an employee’s usual hours, depending on whether they have fixed or variable hours/pay:
- For those with fixed hours/pay, you take the number of hours worked in the pay period before 19 March 2020.
- For those with variable hours/pay, you take the higher of:
- the average number of hours worked in the tax year 2019 to 2020 or
- the corresponding calendar period in the tax year 2019 to 2020.
If employees are paid per task or piece of work done, you should work out the usual hours for these employees in the same way as for other employees who work variable hours, if possible.
When you calculate the usual hours, you should include any hours of leave for which they were paid their full contracted rate (such as annual leave) and any hours worked as overtime (but only if the pay for those hours was not discretionary).
There are two stages:
- Stage 1 – The provision of written information to the representatives.
- Stage 2 – Consultation on the proposed redundancies “with a view to reaching agreement” about certain matters
Stage 1: Provision of information
The first stage in the collective consultation process is to provide the representatives with written information including details of the proposed redundancies (often called a section 188 letter). This information must be given to the appropriate representatives and the time limit before dismissals can take effect does not start to run until they have received it. It is this information which ‘starts the clock’.
It is possible that there will be changes to the proposals during the consultation process: indeed that is part of the reason for the process. The employer’s obligation is not just to provide the appropriate representatives with the relevant information at the start of the process. It is under a continuing obligation to provide them with information in writing about any developments during the consultation process (although later changes do not ‘restart the clock’ before dismissals can take effect).
Stage 2: Consultation on the proposed redundancies “with a view to reaching agreement” about certain matters
The consultation process must include consultation “with a view to reaching agreement with the appropriate representatives” on ways of:
- Avoiding the dismissals
- Reducing the number of employees to be dismissed
- Mitigating the consequences of the dismissals
- Trusts should allow for telephone advice rather than face-to-face review from critical care when clinically appropriate.
- Hospitals should discuss the sharing of resources and the transfer of patients between units, including units in other hospitals, to ensure the best use of critical care within the NHS.
Please note, the above is intended to provide a summary of the key recommendations which emerge from this guidance. Access to the full guidance can be found here.
If you are eligible you will get a taxable grant of 80% of the average profits from the following tax years (where applicable):
HMRC will add the total profit in each of the three tax years (if applicable). This will then determine the monthly payment, subject to the cap of £2500.
A new Permitted Development Right has been introduced by The Town and Country Planning (Permitted Development and Miscellaneous Amendments) (England) (Coronovirus) Regulations 2020 providing for the construction of new dwellinghouses on detached blocks of flats.
The new Right comes into force on 1 August 2020 and from this date development consisting of works for the construction of up to two additional storeys of new dwellinghouses immediately above the existing topmost residential storey which is a purpose-built, detached block of flats is permitted development. The Right additionally covers specified associated works, the construction of fire escapes and ancillary structures, bin stores for example.
The Right is subject to detailed criteria being met and to a prior approval process to the Local Planning Authority who can consider the acceptability of the proposed development in a range of respects. A link to the Regulations is here.
The Regulations additionally include a number of further amendments including additional rights for the holding of markets and for additional temporary uses of land for a time limited period. They additionally include amendments to existing permitted development rights for the change of use of buildings to dwellinghouses through a requirement that there be adequate natural light in all habitable rooms.