Thank you for contacting me about the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
On 20 March the Chancellor announced the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, a UK-wide scheme to pay a grant to any business for each worker they identify as furloughed so that they can remain employed but not be expected to work. These grants will cover 80 per cent of furloughed employees’ usual monthly wage costs up to £2,500 a month, as well as the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on said wage. Ministers aim to make it available before the end of April, and it will cover at least the next three months.
It is right that this scheme is available to businesses, charities, recruitment agencies, and public authorities, and can be used to furlough full-time employees, part-time employees, employees on agency contracts, and employees on flexible or zero-hour contracts. Colleagues at the Treasury assure me that they have done all they can to make sure the scheme covers as many employees as possible.
Employers that continue to use an individual for work during this time, even if this work is on reduced hours, or on a reduced wage, will not be able to access this scheme for that employee. Employers must also keep a record of communicating to an employee that they have been furloughed.
As the MP for Penrith & The Border, I'm doing everything I can in Westminster and Cumbria to address the concerns of my constituents. (Please see below for my views on the most frequently questioned aspects of the CJRS.)
I appreciate that this is a confusing, worrying and uncertain time; and that although the unprecedented measures introduced so far have been well-received, further clarification of the extent and application of these is still needed. I want to assure you that I will continue to monitor and highlight to Government the concerns brought to me, and to share any new information, as I receive it, via my website. In the meantime, I refer you to the following sites for the most recent Government advice:
Please be assured that the Government is doing everything it can at this difficult and unprecedented time.
Thank you again for writing and please stay safe.
Employees on Statutory Sick Pay
It is only right that those employees that have to self-isolate are financially protected. As such, self-isolating employees, or those on sick leave, can be furloughed after receiving Statutory Sick Pay. Employees shielding in line with public health advice can be furloughed under the Scheme.
Maternity Leave, Contractual Adoption Pay, Paternity Pay or Shared Parental Pay
It has been confirmed to me by colleagues at the Treasury who tell me that the normal rules will apply during this time with regards to Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) or Maternity Allowance, meaning an entitlement of up to 39 weeks of statutory pay or allowance. Employees on SMP will therefore be eligible for 90 per cent of average weekly earnings in the first 6 weeks, and 90 per cent of average weekly earnings or the statutory flat rate for the following 33 weeks, whichever is lower. I understand that earnings related contractual pay to those on Maternity Leave can be claimed as wage costs through the CJRS.
I am sorry to say that employees hired after 28 February cannot be furloughed under the CJRS, employers are only able to furlough employees on their PAYE payroll on 28 February. The scheme does however cover employees that have been made redundant since 28 February and have since been rehired. It is now possible under the scheme for employees to be re-employed by their previous employer to then be put into the scheme. I understand this will not be the response you wanted to hear, but I hope I can provide a modicum of assurance to you by making sure that colleagues at the Treasury are acutely aware of the struggle that many new employees are facing due to this cut-off point. I have been feeding in regularly to Government the need for some flexibility to be added to the scheme and they are looking at this.