ACAS have updated their guidance on the new Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Many employers are interested in the ability to furlough employees and the HMRC website to allow employers to reclaim up to 80% of furloughed employees’ regular pay, capped at £2,500 per month (plus the associated minimum auto-enrolment pension contributions and employer’s NICs), should be going live on 20 April 2020.
Key considerations for employers
Employees can be rotated on and off furlough, provided they do minimum spells of three weeks on furlough. This can help minimise employee discontent where employees resent colleagues getting furloughed while they remain working.
Employees are now entitled to carry over holiday where “in any leave year it was not reasonably practicable for a worker to take some or all of the leave to which the worker was entitled under this regulation as a result of the effects of coronavirus (including on the worker, the employer or the wider economy or society)”.
The ACAS guidance suggests that will only apply to three categories of employee:
- those self-isolating or too sick to take holiday before the end of their leave year;
- those on furlough leave; or
- those who are still working and due to work demands, can’t take paid holiday.
Employees will continue to accrue their statutory minimum holiday during furlough and can take holiday during furlough. Employers can also require employees to take leave, by giving them written notice that is twice the length of the holiday they want the employee to take. This is a useful way of ensuring that employees on furlough do not accrue large amounts of holiday, leading to a bottleneck of holiday requests when they return to work.
The ACAS Guidance is not yet clear on what pay applies to holiday during holiday. HMRC Customer Support have tweeted that holiday taken when on furlough must be paid at full pay. It is likely, but not yet confirmed, that holiday pay would be reclaimable under the furlough scheme, subject to the caps set out above. The top-up would then fall to the employer to pay.
Remember too that Statutory Sick Pay can now be paid from the first day of sickness absence because of COVID-19 related sickness or self-isolation and is available to employees “merely” self-isolating because other members of their household are suffering relevant symptoms.
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