Coronavirus round-up: furlough scheme changes and self-isolation

As we step into September, organisations need to be aware of the details pertaining to some upcoming changes to the Job Retention Scheme.

Changes to furlough scheme funding

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough scheme) was put in place to support organisations who were not able to operate as normal due to the pandemic. Since 20 March 2020 when the furlough scheme came into effect, 1.16 million employers have furloughed all, or part, of their workforce and claimed 80 per cent of employee wage costs, to a maximum of £2,500 per employee per month.

Until 1 August, organisations had been able to claim the portion of the employee’s wages, together with employee National Insurance and employer pension contributions. Even though the furlough scheme does not end until 31 October 2020, firms have begun contributing to furloughed workers’ wages, which will continue in stages until the scheme ends.

The first phase of contributions, which began on 1 August 2020, has required organisations to pay employee National Insurance and employer’s pension contributions of furloughed workers’ wage costs in relation to the hours that the worker does not work.

Further contributions from organisations will be needed from 1 September. Although the 80 per cent grant paid by the government has continued at a cap of £2,500 until the end of August, from 1 September the government’s grant will decrease to only cover 70 per cent of furloughed employees’ wages, at a decreased cap of £2,187.50.

Further changes will occur in October when the government will only cover 60 per cent of furloughed employee wages at a cap of £1,875.

With this in mind, organisations will need to top this up to ensure that furloughed employees still receive 80 per cent of their wages up to £2,500. For example, a 70 per cent grant up to £2,187.50 will attract a 10 per cent top up from your client to a maximum of £312.50.

Statutory sick pay (SSP) for those isolating due to medical procedure

New laws came into force across the UK on 26 August, extending the right to SSP to employees who meet the following:

  • have been told in writing by a medical practitioner, or other body permitted to notify them, that they are to undergo a surgical or other hospital procedure
  • have been advised to stay at home for up to 14 days before their admission to hospital, and
  • who stay at home due to the above.

As usual, SSP should be provided to those who need to self-isolate and cannot work from home or are not currently furloughed. If they can continue to work, they should be paid as normal.

England travel update

Jamaica, Czech Republic and Switzerland have been removed from the ‘safe’ list and anyone arriving in England from those countries from 4am on Saturday 29 August will need to quarantine for 2 weeks. This was already required for arrivals into Scotland from Switzerland and Jamaica and the Czech Republic have also been removed there. Meanwhile, Cuba has been added to the ‘safe’ list for England which means no quarantine is needed when arriving after 4am on Saturday 29 August

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