On 10 May 2020 the Government began to outline its plans to enable certain sectors in England to return to work, while the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have continued the period of lockdown.
While employees who can operate from home are advised to continue to do so, official guidance on the government's plans for returning to the workplace continue to emerge, including:
- Several sets of of sector specific guidance. This sector specific guidance covers construction and other outdoor work, warehouses, labs and research facilities, offices and contact centres and similar indoor environments. The remaining guidance addresses working in other people's homes, restaurants offering takeaway or delivery, shops and similar environments and people who work in or from vehicles, including couriers and lorry drivers.
- Guidance on the revised flexible furlough scheme applicable from 1 July.
The timing and nature of any further relaxation of restrictions is uncertain and it is sensible for businesses to consider all the options and have the capability to move quickly from one scenario to another.
One of the key measures affecting returning to the workplace is the extension to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, commonly known as the furlough scheme. This scheme has been extended from 1 July (although effectively the last date to furlough employees who were not previously on furlough is the 10 June). Under the extension of the scheme, previously furloughed employees can return to work, either at home or in the workplace, for any amount of time and in any shift pattern. Despite any partial return to work, employers can still claim the furlough grant for their normal hours not worked. In summary from 1 July to October 31 the scheme becomes slightly more flexible. Furloughed employees will continue to receive 80% of their salary subject to the cap but employers will need to pay part of the furlough salaries:
- June and July: The Government will continue to pay 80% of fully furloughed employees’ salaries, plus national insurance and pension contributions. Employers are not required to pay anything unless they voluntarily agree to supplement furlough pay or the employees return to work part time in July.
- August: The Government will continue to pay 80% of furloughed employees’ salaries, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. Employers will now have to pay national insurance and pension contributions regardless of whether employees are working part time or not. Employers will also pay for any part time hours worked.
- September: The Government will continue to pay 70% of furloughed employees’ salaries up to a cap of £2,187.50 per month. Employers will also pay national insurance and pension contributions, and 10% of wages to make up 80% of the total, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. Employers will also pay for any part time hours worked.
- October: The Government will continue to pay 60% of furloughed employees’ salaries up to a cap of £1,875 per month. Employers will also pay national insurance and pension contributions, and 20% of wages to make up 80% of the total, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. Employers will also pay for any part time hours worked.
The above information was taken from the CIPD website.