The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – FAQs

This note answers the questions that we are being frequently asked about the new Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (the “Scheme”) announced by the government on 20 March 2020.

The Scheme affords all UK employers, regardless of size or sector, the ability to claim funding from HMRC to cover 80% of the wage costs of its furloughed employees (employees who are not working at this time but are kept on the payroll), of up to a maximum of £2,500 per calendar month, for each employee.

This note is correct at the time of writing, 27 March. More guidance providing clarity on some of
these issues is expected and we will update schools when we can.

Selecting staff for Furlough

Q1. How do you select which staff to furlough?

Aside from the Government guidance on who is eligible to be furloughed, ultimately, it is likely to be up to the employer to decide which employees to designate as “furloughed”. We would of course advise schools to be mindful of the risk of discrimination when selecting those employees to furlough for example, where the selection process is linked to protected characteristics such as age or disability.

Q2. Can you furlough someone against their will?

You can’t impose furlough on an employee, but we anticipate that very few employees are going to resist if it’s offered when the alternative is redundancy. Some schools may have a contractual right to lay off staff which it may be able to rely on instead, if needed. However in relation to the Scheme, whilst the employee can select which employees it would like to furlough, it is likely that they may have to (if agreement cannot be reached) follow a consultation process, and therefore an employee’s agreement to the proposal is likely to be required.

For full list of questions and answers click here or contact Kristine Scott, Partner, Employment and Immigration, Harrison Clark Rickerbys.