From preventing redundancies to ensuring a parent can look after their child, it is becoming clear that the government’s Job Retention Scheme can accommodate a range of challenges facing workers and employers during the coronavirus outbreak.
The Job Retention Scheme, while not perfect, is a bold attempt to stave off the wave of job losses that could result from the Coronavirus lockdown.
Bosses can ask employees to go on furlough and in return get 80 per cent of the wages of affected workers (and other costs) paid by the taxpayer.
But with billions of pounds of wage support available, it is the principal tool that bosses have to help workers weather the economic storm.
They now need to work with workers and their unions to ensure that all those can benefit from the scheme do so.
Over recent days the TUC has been pushing for greater clarity on how the scheme can be used.
Some of the fruits of this can be seen in updated guidance published by the government over the weekend.
We have clarified that the minimum furlough period of three weeks means that workplaces can, if they are able to, run a job rotation scheme as a form of short time working. The key is that each worker is furloughed for that three-week minimum.
The TUC is pushing for further flexibilities to allow other forms of short-time work.
Although billed as an alternative to redundancies, the scheme can also be used by employers for non-business reasons to help workers safeguard themselves and their families.
The government has now made explicit what was previously implied: that an employer can claim for furloughed employees who are shielding in line with public health guidance and cannot work from home.
They can also claim for someone who needs to stay at home with someone who is shielding.
Employees who are unable to work because they have caring responsibilities, such as children to look after, resulting from coronavirus can be furloughed too.
No longer should any employer claim “uncertainty” or “lack of detail” for failing to take steps to protect employees’ jobs and the health of those workers and those close to them.
Employers must now step up and work with workers and their unions to ensure that all those workers who could benefit from the scheme can do so.
This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union or an independent advisor before taking any action.
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