Updates to the coronavirus job retention scheme

Changes have been made to the Cornovairus Job Retention Scheme, so that an employee can now be placed on furlough by their previous employer if they started a new role after the 28th February, as well as being furloughed if they have to care for someone who is suffering from COVID-19.

Evershed Sutherland, a law practice has explained the changes made to the scheme regarding previous employers. Previously, staff who were not on the payroll after the 28th February were not eligible to be put on furlough. These employees can now ask their previous employer to do so, however, they are under no obligation to rehire the same staff.

The law practice said:

Former workers who left their employment on or after 28 February 2020 for redundancy or any other reason (including resignation) and who cannot be furloughed by a new employer, can be re-hired, placed on furlough and a claim made for their wages. Employers are not obliged to rehire those staff, however, and they will be mindful of the circumstances in which the employee left, the likely availability of a long term role and the complications in re-employing staff (as regards, e.g., continuity of service, any redundancy payments and any other liabilities when the new contract is terminated) and (notwithstanding the Government’s approach) whether public funds should be used in this manner.

The Government has also confirmed that employees who are caring for those suffering from COVID-19 can now be furloughed.

Clare McNeil, associate director of the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), said:

While some parents and carers will be able to work from home and it’s not ideal but they can just about manage to combine work and care, obviously for some groups of parents that’s just not possible.

We know that there have been several reports of women in particular who have either been dismissed or have been forced to take unpaid leave because of the fact that the schools have closed, which is clearly unfair. So it’s great that the government appears to have listened and has changed the guidance.