Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)
The UK Government has introduced the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) to provide funding, which Bield is eligible to access, to support with the costs incurred relating to employment. Bield is committed to our staff as much as possible during the pandemic and to do this has taken a business decision to access the CJRS funding, driven by the need to minimise the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the long term financial position of the organisation. The CJRS enables Bield to claim some grant funding to help with the salary costs of workers who are unable to work in their normal role and contractual hours, either at home or their usual workplace because of their own health or personal circumstances or because of reduced requirement by the business for people to carry out their normal work activities. In many cases employees in this situation may not have an ongoing contractual entitlement to paid leave and therefore the CJRS also enables Bield to reduce the financial impact on staff unable to work because of the Covid-19 pandemic. In order to access available funding Bield is required to designate employees as ‘furloughed workers’ for a period of time and we have worked hard across the business to identify eligible workers in line with the guidance issued by the Government.
This is a complicated and new arrangement that we have not seen before. We have tried to pull together a list of Q&A’s that may help to understand some of the detail behind the scheme.
If you require further information or have any additional questions please contact your line manager or a member of the HR Team on 0131 273 4020 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Frequently asked questions
The word ‘furlough’ generally means a temporary leave of absence from work. It describes a situation which has been introduced by the Government during the Covid-19 pandemic to provide employers with an option to keep employees on the payroll while they are not working. A furloughed worker is someone who, rather than being considered for redundancy by their employer or being put on unpaid lay off, is kept on the payroll during a period where the employer does not have any work for them. A furloughed employee is still an employee on a newly defined type of leave. All contractual arrangements, including payment of salary, will continue to apply as normal.
The CJRS covers both full and part-time employees, those on flexible or zero-hours contracts and those on fixed term contracts (within some defined parameters) providing they were on the employer’s payroll on 28th February 2020.
Bield has applied a fair and consistent approach to decision making and used the same criteria to all employees. The final decision was made by our -Leadership Team. This is an objective decision based on the impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on an individuals’ capacity to do their normal job and is not a reflection on your work performance or the value of your contribution to Bield in normal circumstances. We reviewed the current working arrangements for every employee and identified those suitable for furlough leave based on the following criteria:
- Those who cannot perform their normal duties and have not/ cannot be allocated alternative duties where:
- Staff who have received written advice from the Government advising them to shield and cannot do their normal tasks or reallocated tasks from home.
- Staff who cannot perform their normal responsibilities while working from home or where the business requirement for them to carry out their normal responsibilities has reduced.
- Staff who are unable to work because they have caring responsibilities for others.
- Staff who have taken a cautious approach and chosen to not to work because of concerns about their own health and/or the health of others in their household advised to shield.
Yes. If you are identified as eligible to be placed on furlough leave your line manager will discuss the situation with you and explain the reasons for the decision and the impact on your own personal circumstances. Following this, you will receive a letter which explains that you have been designated a ‘furloughed worker’ and the terms and conditions of furlough leave. You will be asked to sign and return the document to confirm your agreement and/or make us aware of any objections or concerns. Information about how to do this will be provided in the letter you receive.
For most people being placed on furlough leave will be the best option to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on your own personal circumstances; however it is your own choice whether to agree to this change to your terms and conditions of employment.
If you do not wish to be placed on Furlough leave then your line manager will discuss the other options available to you, depending on your circumstances this may include:
- Returning to work in your normal role or undertaking new or additional activities that you would not normally undertake if there is sufficient work for you to do.
- If you are unable to return to work then the options may be:
- Unpaid dependents leave if you are unable to work because of caring responsibilities
- A reduction in hours and your salary if you are unable to work your full contractual hours or the business requirement for people to undertake the activities that you normally carry out has reduced.
- Statutory or Contractual Sick Pay if you are unable to work because you are ‘shielding’ and you are able to provide written advice from the Government.
- Unpaid leave if you have chosen not to work because of a health condition that places you in a higher risk category but you have not received written advice from the Government that places you in the “Shielding” category.
The CRJS grant covers 80% of the salary costs of furloughed workers. Bield has made this decision to top your salary up to 100% so you will continue to receive your normal contractual salary during a period of furlough leave. The normal deductions for PAYE and National Insurance Contributions will apply to any payment you receive. Your Employer and Employee pension contributions will continue as normal for employee placed on furlough leave. However, in order to continue to pay your full contractual salary Bield will require you to take a proportion of your annual leave entitlement during furlough leave (see questions 8 to 11).
Yes. Your annual leave entitlement will continue to accrue because the contract of employment is still in existence.
Yes. This was confirmed in guidance on 17 April 2020. You are entitled to receive your normal pay when on annual leave during furlough.
Yes. Bield has committed to topping up salary payments during a period of furlough leave from 80% to 100%. This is not a legal requirement but we are committed to do so in order to minimise the impact of furlough leave on our staff members. However, we need to consider the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on our ability to continue to deliver our key services and also protect and secure our long term financial position To plan for future workforce capacity we need to ensure that the workforce continues to use their annual leave entitlements evenly throughout the leave year. We need to do this in order to prevent operational and cost impact associated with a large number of employees requesting to take large amounts of leave in the second half of the leave year and/or the ongoing impact of accommodating additional carry forward in future years because people have been unable to take their full entitlement in 2020/21. Similar measures will be implemented to ensure that employees not placed on furlough leave are using a reasonable proportion of their annual leave evenly across the year, meaning that employees placed on furlough leave will not be detrimentally affected by the requirement to take annual leave alongside furlough leave.
Employees placed on Furlough Leave will be required to take the equivalent of 1 working week of their annual leave entitlement for each 3 week period of Furlough Leave. This will be arranged as 3 weeks of furlough leave followed by 1 week of annual leave.
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If you become ill during a period of furlough leave then you should report your absence to your line manager in the normal way so that we can support you during your period of ill-health. You cannot be placed on sickness absence and furlough leave at the same time, so we will continue to treat your absence as furlough leave and you will receive your normal pay. This will not be recorded as a period of sickness on your employee record.
We intend to begin periods of furlough leave on 1 May 2020, although for people who have not undertaken any work since 1 March 2020 there may be an option to backdate the period of furlough leave and we will discuss this directly with individuals where appropriate and agree the date the period of Furlough Leave started. The scheme is currently in place until 30 June 2020 but it may be extended further.
Furlough must be taken in minimum blocks of three weeks in order to be eligible for the funding. For now, the maximum period would appear to be four months because that is how long the Government has said the Scheme will be available for. However, it may be extended if the lockdown is extended.
Yes. In some cases and individual or group of employees in a similar role may be placed into a grouping. Individuals within the group would then go on furlough leave for a period of 3 weeks and then asked to return to work while a second individual or group of colleagues in a similar role are then placed on furlough leave. This system can then rotate for as many times as required.
No. You are not permitted to undertake work for Bield during a period of Furlough Leave. If you work even for an hour (during their minimum three week furlough period) then Bield is unable to access the grant funding. You are able to undertake work or volunteering for other organisations during a period of furlough leave, but you should remember that you will be expected to be available to return to work when required by Bield to do so.
You are able to undertake training and do volunteer work (but not for Bield). If training is done, it is likely that this will need to be online because of the social distancing measures in place. Furloughed employees undertaking training should be paid for the time because this will be work, albeit the kind permitted during furlough.
The normal arrangement for the furlough scheme operates in 3 week periods, with an additional 1 week leave as part of the arrangement. However it is a condition of furlough leave – because your contract of employment continues as normal – that you remain available for work during a period of furlough leave, so if we require you to return to normal operations for any reason we may make the request for you to do so. In this case we will try to give you as much notice as possible that your period of furlough leave is coming to an end and make arrangements with you a 2-3 working days in advance. In exceptional circumstances we may need to ask you to return to work at very short notice if there are significant pressures on our operational services i.e. because of high volumes of absence of other employees.
You remain a Bield employee during furlough leave and we have a duty of care to you, so whilst you are unable to work at all during furlough leave, your line manager will keep you up to date about key things happening within the organisation and we’ll agree with you how you would prefer to be contacted, the frequency of any contact and what you would like to know more about when we discuss furlough leave with you. This may include:
- Receiving the Weekly Covid-19 Briefing by email
- A weekly or fortnightly telephone call to check on your wellbeing and keep you updated about important changes or information.
- Team contact – remembering that you cannot undertake any work for Bield during a period of furlough leave.
The Employee Assistance Programme (Employee Counselling Service) is still available for people to access as required and are conducting counselling via telephone, skype or zoom and email. You can arrange an appointment by contacting Coaching & Counselling Solutions on 0141 228 6250 or by email: email@example.com