Due to the outbreak of Corona virus, the U.K. Government announced a scheme to protect people’s employment called “Furlough”. This is the first time any such scheme has been introduced so it’s taken a bit of time for Governments, HMRC and employers to fully understand what the scheme is, how it works and who is eligible.
New guidance was issued on 15th April 2020 extending the number and type of employees that “Furlough” can apply to. This change will also affect PA’s and PA employers.
How this affects PA employers:
From 15th April 2020, if your PA advises that they are unable to come to work as they are in the “shielding” category or are living at the same address as someone who is “shielding”, you can now consider either:
- Placing that employee on Statutory Sick Pay (SSP); or
- “Furloughing” the employee.
How Furlough works:
“Furlough” is a scheme which means that the person remains employed in the same role but they are authorised not to attend work for the agreed period. The “Furlough” scheme means that the PA can continue to be paid 80% of their normal earnings and that this cost will be met by the U.K. Government.
There are a few important criteria that someone must meet before they can be “furloughed”:
- They must have been employed by you on or before 19th March 2020 (if they started after this date, they cannot apply to be “furloughed”;
- They must be asking to be “furloughed” as a result of Covid-19 (Corona Virus);
- The terms of the “furlough” must be agreed by the employer and the employee.
- The terms of the “furlough” must then be set out in a formal letter.
- You continue to process the pay of your employee at 80% of their normal earnings;
- You reclaim this cost via HMRC (or your payroll provider does this on your behalf).
Is my PA eligible for “furlough”?
Your PA will only be eligible to apply to “furlough” if they are unable to attend their normal place of work due to Covid-19 (Corona virus). This does not include being ill with Corona virus. If they are showing symptoms of Corona virus or have been confirmed as having Corona virus, they should be placed on sick leave and will receive Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).
If you’re PA is caring for or living at the same address as someone who is “shielding”, then they may be eligible to “furlough”.
“Shielding” is a particular approach the Government have advised particular vulnerable people to take to reduce their risk of becoming unwell with Corona virus. It involves the person not leaving their home for a period of around 12 weeks; having as little contact with other people living in the home as possible and having no contact with people outside their own home unless it is absolutely necessary.
People who are advised to “shield” will have a formal letter from either the U.K. or Scottish Government, the NHS or their G.P. If they do not have this but think they should be “shielding” due to an existing health condition, they should speak to their G.P.
If you’re PA is either being advised to “shield” or is living with or caring for someone who has been advised to “shield”, from 15th April 2020, they are now eligible to request to be “furloughed”.
Dealing with requests to “furlough”:
If someone you employ requests to “furlough”, you should ask for evidence that they or someone they live with has been advised to “shield”. Once you have seen this evidence, you should contact SPAEN and we will work through the steps set out under “How Furlough works” to help you do this.