Employment Alert – Updated Furlough Guidance

20 Nov 2020

Updated Furlough Guidance

What’s happening?

There have been further updates to the government’s furlough leave guidance which can be reviewed here.

 

Why is this important?

Any employer that is utilising the furlough scheme will need to review the government’s guidance as this sets out the key practical information relating to the scheme.

Frustratingly for employers, the guidance is updated on a regular basis, and on 19 November, the guidance was updated again.

This version of the guidance highlights that claims must be made within two weeks of the end of the previous calendar month. However, this can be extended where there is “reasonable excuse for failing to make a claim in time”. The guidance gives examples of circumstances which would amount to a ‘reasonable excuse’, which includes:

  • Your partner or another close relative died shortly before the claim deadline
  • You had a serious or life-threatening illness, including Coronavirus related illnesses, which prevented you from making your claim (and no one else could claim for you)
  • Your computer or software failed just before or while you were preparing your online claim
  • Service issues with HMRC online services prevented you from making your claim

The guidance also specifies that employees on long term sick leave can be furloughed for business reasons at the discretion of their employer. Unhelpfully, it does not clarify what it means by ‘long term’ or for ‘business reasons’ and whether the business reasons need to be connected to the pandemic.

In line with the overall purpose of the guidance, our take is that only employers who are satisfied that the pandemic continues to impact their business should utilise furlough for long term sick employees, however this is yet to be confirmed.

What should you do?

  1. Comply with the tight timeframes for making your claim for furlough pay.
  2. Put in place measures to ensure that the claim can be processed by other members of staff if the usual person who processes the claim is unavailable.
  3. If there are exceptional circumstances which prevent the claim being made in time, you should make the claim as soon as you possibly can thereafter.

If you need more information please contact us on 0800 2800 421 or email Employment.Alert@trethowans.com to find out how we can help.

Author

Andrew Crudge

Associate