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Coronavirus: Weekly Update

They say that knowledge is power, and in the situation we find ourselves in, it’s easy to feel powerless in the face of uncertainty. 

At Liquid Friday, we are committed to keep our agencies and contractors in the loop on important matters which may affect them during this crisis - including updates on government support measures, and what we are doing as a business.

Welcome to our Lockdown Low-down!

Furlough cut-off date extended

This week, we welcomed the news that the cut-off date for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been moved to 19th March 2020.

When the scheme was first announced, individuals had to be employed by the company furloughing them on 28th February but this has now been extended to 19th March, meaning that an extra 200,000 employees across the country could benefit.

Under the Job Retention Scheme, employers can furlough their employees, effectively putting their jobs “on-ice”. They don’t work while on furlough and the government funds 80% of their usual salary, up to £2,500 per month. 

While employers don’t have to use the scheme, it gives businesses an alternative to making redundancies and should ease the road back to recovery when things start to return to normal.

Chancellor Richi Sunak has also confirmed that the JRS will be extended by one month, meaning it will remain open until the end of June, in order to prevent businesses from having to initiate redundancy consultations with furloughed employees.

Some clarity for umbrella employees

The FCSA, in combination with other leading professional bodies, has been lobbying hard for clarification about how the wages of umbrella employees are to be calculated under the Job Retention Scheme.

The latest guidance, updated on 9th April, does make it clear that the scheme is open to umbrella companies who employ workers and pay them PAYE.

However there are still questions around the mechanics of the scheme, in particular whether furlough pay should be calculated on an average of all earnings, or just the basic pay element (National Minimum Wage).

What Liquid Friday is doing

We feel this is no time to sit on our hands, when people are facing financial hardship.

We have identified a large number of our umbrella employees who may benefit from the Job Retention Scheme due to their assignments being interrupted by Covid-19 and we will be looking to process the first furloughed payments before the end of April, to cover the March period. 

Job Retention Scheme: Public Sector workers

The guidance states that although employers in all sectors can apply for the Job Retention Scheme, the government expects that most public sector employers will not need to furlough employees either because they are working on essential services, or because the employer’s public funding covers its staff costs.

Indeed, the Cabinet Office has stated verbally that temporary labour in the public sector should continue to be paid. 

That’s all for this week’s roundup. To get the latest straight to your inbox, you can subscribe to our blog by clicking the link at the bottom of this page.

Stay safe, and please contact the team if you need to.