Guest contributors: Acas and Aaron & Partners Solicitors (Written 08 December 2020)
For employers in the hospitality sector, it is an incredibly challenging time on many fronts. While furlough may seem on the surface to be a simple fix, we recognise that furlough isn’t free for employers – and for those making tough decisions, it may be difficult to find the balance between seeking immediate solutions and considering the potential long-term impact. Our last Supporters Network Webinar was a hospitality support session, delivered in partnership with Acas. Below is a summary of the key information for employers regarding furlough, alongside a list of resources with further information, and the full video recording.
Important information when furloughing staff
The furlough scheme was being wound down for it to be eventually stopped, instead we are now going back to the maximum entitlement back in August. For furlough, it is important that employers keep records for six years of:
- amount claimed and the claim period for each employee;
- claim reference number;
- details of the calculation used; and
- hours worked and usual hours worked.
Claim information for the furlough scheme
It is important to note that the Job Retention Bonus Scheme scheduled for February 2021 has been withdrawn, and the Government will redeploy it at the appropriate time.
In November an employer can claim for a furloughed employee who is working their statutory notice period (silent on contractual notice, please seek appropriate legal advice). However, on or after 1 December 2020, an employer cannot claim for any days for which an employee is serving a contractual or statutory notice period.
Economics of furlough
When considering whether to furlough staff, you need to consider the cost of paying employer’s NI and pension contributions, and as of 1 December 2020 the cost of any contractual or statutory notice pay. Notice pay can no longer be claimed under the CJRS and therefore must be factored into any forecasting.
An employer may be considering alternatives to keeping people on furlough such as lay offs, redundancies or varying a contract of employment. None of these options are without risk for the employer and it would always be best practice for an employer to have conversations with their staff if they are considering any of these options making sure they are explaining why they considering it.
What to do moving forward
Acas are receiving a wide range of questions about furlough, including whether staff must be furloughed, how to decide who to furlough if there is enough work for some staff (eg reduced opening hours, takeaway service, less demand for work) and what to do if someone refuses to come back to work when requested to following a period of furlough.
The answers to these questions vary and will be dependent on individual situations but the most important thing to remember if questions such as these come up is to communicate with employees. Make sure people are kept up to date with what is happening, keeping in regular contact both with people who are furloughed and those who are working.
Staff have been far more willing than normal to agree to changes to terms and conditions of employment, but this stems from the strength of employee relations.
Helen Robinson, Senior Advisor and Trainer at Acas
Adam Haines, Employment Law Partner at Aaron and Partners Solicitors