17th June 2021
A delayed ‘Freedom Day’ will inevitably mean an impact on businesses – some more than others. Carey Willis Fleming, an associate solicitor in Thrings’ Employment and Immigration team, looks at solving the challenges faced by employers.
When recruiting, you may be asked to engage an employee who is still on furlough with another business. If this is something you are considering, it is possible to do that under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) scheme provided that the employee’s contract allows them to work elsewhere. Either their contract of employment may already allow this, usually with their existing employer’s agreement, or any subsequent furlough agreement may have addressed this issue.
They would also need to be able to fulfil their contract with the other employer if they were called back to work on a flexible furlough basis or to take part in some training whilst on furlough, so you may lose them at relatively short notice if the two roles would overlap in terms of working hours. As such, this is perhaps more likely to be a temporary rather than long-term solution, though some employees may be tempted to stay if your employment offer is attractive.
If the role fits around their existing employment, you may need to ensure they sign a Working Time Regulations Opt Out if they are likely to work in excess of 48 hours in a week across the two employments and you would need to consider any health and safety risks.
If you do take on a new employee who is furloughed from another employment, you will need to ensure that you complete the government’s PAYE starter checklist form correctly. Ensuring that if the employee is furloughed from another employment, they complete ‘statement C’ on the list.
Employers in the hospitality industry may be particularly impacted by this. For 10 top tips on how to recruit and retain employees in the hospitality industry, please follow this link.
You may have been hoping to bring employees that are on furlough back into the workplace but now the delay to the roadmap may have changed your plans. You will need to keep employees informed and communicate any changes to their furlough/flexible furlough arrangements.
From 1 July 2021 keeping an employee on furlough will also mean needing to make 10% contributions to the 80% that has previously been covered by the CJRS; this will rise to a 20% contribution in August.
These additional costs, as well as any lost revenue caused by the delay to Freedom Day, could mean that cost savings need to be made elsewhere and/or redundancies considered.
Delay to the workplace return
Depending upon your business model and whether you are considering a permanent change to working arrangements (such as working from home or hybrid working), you may have been prepared for an influx of employees returning to the workplace.
The government’s continuation of the guidance on working from home wherever possible could unsettle those employees that were looking forward to their return. You will also need to ensure you are watching out for their wellbeing.
The delay will also give you extra time to prepare for the return of employees to the workplace. For 10 top tips on avoiding risks when returning to the workplace please follow this link
Please note: Nothing in this article constitutes legal advice and we are not liable for any reliance on the information provided. This is a rapidly changing subject, and whilst correct at the time of writing, circumstances may have changed since publication. Please refer to Gov.uk for up-to-date advice on the Government’s response to this issue.