Furloughing During The Coronavirus Crisis – April 2020 - Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce

Furloughing During The Coronavirus Crisis – April 2020

29th April 2020
Gemma Baldock

A Griffin Law Special Briefing in conjunction with HRx Consultancy Services

Many of our clients have sought advice and documentation regarding furloughing some (or all) of your staff. This update should assist you as you prepare to claim under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (JRS) system once it goes live later this month.

UPDATE 27 APRIL 2020: JRS Portal/Furlough Leave

Overall the feedback on the JRS portal has been very positive. There were some initial teething problems in relation to the online calculator which we understand have now been resolved.

Of course, we appreciate that for many it remains to be seen whether claims have gone through without any issue and that information is only likely to come to light during this week, when funds are expected to arrive in bank accounts, but so far, for those who have already received payments, it appears to have been successful and relatively painless.

WARNING: This data is highly sensitive and should only be entered directly into the HMRC portal. DO NOT FALL FOR AN EMAIL SCAM INSTRUCTING YOU TO CLICK A LINK OR REPLY TO AN EMAIL.

If you believe you have entered a claim for the incorrect pay period it can be rectified in the next pay period.

If you provided your staff with a timeframe for the initial furlough period and that has/is coming to an end and you wish for them to remain on furlough leave, then you are obliged to update your staff that you intend to continue the furlough leave period.

Parental Leave
Late on 24 April, the government issued an update to confirm that any furloughed workers who take any family-related leave (maternity, paternity, adoption leave etc.) on or after 25 April 2020 will be entitled to receive such statutory payments based on their full contractual pay, rather than their furlough pay.

Emergency Volunteering Leave (EVL)
The Coronavirus Act 2020 has introduced a new statutory right to Emergency Volunteering Leave which allows staff to assist an “appropriate authority” in the health or social care sector. This could be a local council, district council or the NHS.

Where an individual wishes to volunteer, they will first need to obtain an emergency volunteering certificate from the appropriate authority. EVL can only be taken in blocks of two, three or four consecutive weeks: shorter/longer periods are not permitted.

If you employ ten or more staff, you cannot refuse the request. If you employ fewer than ten staff you can decline the request. There is no automatic right for the individual to be paid during EVL and it should therefore be treated in the same way as unpaid leave. If the individual is furloughed they cannot be receiving furlough pay as they will instead be entitled to claim compensation from the government for loss of earnings, travelling and subsistence.

Please note that if you terminate an individual’s employment on the basis of their taking EVL, you could face a claim for automatic unfair dismissal (given it is a statutory right), which does not require any minimum length of service and the level of compensation that can be claimed is uncapped.

Additional financial support for small businesses – Bounce-Back Loans
The government is now offering a “bounce-back loan” which amounts to 25% of your turnover (capped at a loan amount of £50k) for which the government will pay the interest for the first year.

There is no proof of ongoing viability of the business needed. To apply, complete the two-page online form. This support will be available from next May 4th.  This will be of particular use to firms that were unable to utilise the previous business interruption loan scheme, or for whom the government grants were insufficient.

If you require a letter or email seeking consent to furlough your employees please let us know by emailing  justice@griffin.law and we will tailor it to your personal arrangements with your staff. For HR advice, please email victoria@hrxconsultancy.com

Griffin Law is a niche litigation firm of innovative, proactive, tenacious and commercially-minded lawyers who guarantee to share the risk of litigation with every client. While we primarily offer litigation advice this often results in commercial and employment law related matters on which we work closely with our sister organisation HRx Consultancy Services. Whether you have queries relating to your workforce, debt recovery or require advice on how best to maintain solvency for your business we have the expertise to be able to assist you through these unprecedented times.

Griffin Law prides itself on providing cost-effective legal advice to individuals and businesses.  This includes (but is not limited to) discussing funding options that may be available to them, and how we can help achieve an optimal end-result for our clients. Contact us here justice@griffin.law


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