Furlough deadline of 10 June won’t apply to employees on family friendly leave
9 June 2020
Since the Chancellor’s announcement on 29 May where he clarified that the last date for employers to furlough employees for the first time would be 10 June 2020 (see our previous article here), we have been dealing with several queries from clients regarding what the deadline means for those who are currently away from work due to family friendly leave (i.e. maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental leave, as well as parental bereavement leave).
Employers were having to consider whether or not to bring people back from family friendly leave early (with their agreement) purely so as to avoid missing the cut off date for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), but it wasn’t clear whether this was permissible under the scheme. For those where that was not an option, it appeared that they simply would not be eligible for furlough.
Fortunately, a further announcement has been made by the Government this evening which will be welcomed by both employers and employees. In it, the Chancellor has clarified that employees who return from statutory maternity and paternity leave “after a long period of absence” and “in the coming months” will be eligible for furlough even after 10 June, provided that they work for an employer who has previously furloughed employees under the scheme.
(The announcement also goes on to confirm that this position also applies to people returning from adoption leave, shared parental leave, and parental bereavement leave.)
Although the announcement is good news, there are of course some key points that still need to be clarified. In particular:
- What does ‘a long period of absence’ mean for this purpose? For example, in most cases statutory paternity leave will only be 2 weeks. Will that be sufficient?
- What does ‘in the coming months’ mean? We presume that it is likely to mean for the remaining months of the CJRS (i.e. up to 31 October 2020) but it is not yet clear if this is the intention.
More details are due to be provided on Friday 12 June, alongside the further information which is due to be released about ‘flexible furlough’ and how this will work from 1 July onwards. We will of course bring you updates on this as soon as they are available.
If you are an employer dealing with employment law issues arising from the coronavirus, then we can help. Please call us on 01243 836840 for a no obligation chat, or email us at [email protected].