WOULD WE BE LIABLE TO REDUNDANCY PAYMENT?

Only if you make staff redundant. If you keep them employed, and furlough (rest) them instead, they continue to accrue employment rights throughout, and so furloughing does potentially increase their redundancy entitlement if that does become the final outcome, although legal advice should be taken.

DOES FURLOUGH ALLOW PART-REDUCTION OF WORKING HOURS?

We are not sure yet. It does in the US, where the concept is more common, but the narrative from the Govt to date suggests and all or nothing.

WILL FURLOUGH APPLY TO DIRECTORS WHO ARE EMPLOYEES?

Interesting one and one to be confirmed. Furloughing prevents any work being undertaken though and a director continues to have fiduciary duties whilst they are directors.  We therefore do not see how a director could not do any work and so furloughing might not be available.

IF AN EMPLOYEE IS PUT ON FURLOUGH, THEN GOES SICK, CAN WE SWITCH THEM TO SSP/SICK PAY SCHEME PAYMENTS?

You might not want to as the pay is higher whilst on furlough, probably. However, it might also remain subject to normal SSP rights as your employment continues throughout, so the employees might still need to ring in sick and go on SSP schemes instead.  One that needs further detail.

SELF-EMPLOYED CLAIMS?

The Job Retention Scheme will not apply and we’re waiting for further announcements on the self employed early this week.

WHEN DOES THE 12 WEEKS SUPPORT START IS IT THE 1ST MARCH OR IS IT FROM FRIDAY WHEN THE CHANCELLOR MADE HIS STATEMENT?

From 1 March but only if you have not terminated employment contracts and presumably only if they have not done any work either. Again, one for the detail.

IF AN EMPLOYEE CONTINUES TO BE WORKING, CAN WE CLAIM THE 80% OR IS IT JUST FOR WORKERS THAT ARE OFF?

Only for those laid off – staff are not able to work whilst furloughed.

CAN YOU FURLOUGH A NEW EMPLOYEE - WORKED 3 WEEKS & NOT YET PAID?

If they have worked, they will be due their pay, plus there is a one month minimum employment provision, and so you would only be able to furlough from month 2, we believe.

WOULD WE BE BETTER OF LAYING PEOPLE OFF SO WE CAN PAY 80%?

Could do – this would be a business decision though as their employment rights and period of continuous service should accrue throughout and so if the end result is a complete shut down of the business, you will potentially be increasing any redundancy costs.  Depending on what the business does, you may also want to keep enough staff working to service demand.

DO WE STILL RUN OUR VAT RETURNS ON SAGE AS NORMAL?

Yes – it’s just a payment deferral

WHAT ABOUT THOSE CLIENTS THAT ALREADY HAVE OVERDUE PAYMENTS?

You should call HMRC and seek a Time to Pay arrangement

WHAT ABOUT DIRECT DEBIT? WILL IT BE TAKEN OR DO WE NEED TO CANCEL IT?

This isn’t clear yet and so you might prefer to cancel to ensure the money doesn’t get taken and then you have to apply for a temporary refund.

CAN THE GOVERNMENT REFUSE YOU AID IF YOU APPLY FOR JOB RETENTION SCHEME FUNDING FOR SOME BUT NOT ALL EMPLOYEES IF YOU ALSO OPT TO MAKE SOME OF YOUR EMPLOYEES REDUNDANT?

Not that we are expecting – you only furlough those you have no work for with the rest continuing to work

DO WE CONTINUE TO PUT VAT ON OUR INVOICES?

Yes, you just process and file in the normal way.

I UNDERSTAND THE JOB RETENTION SCHEME CAN BE BACKDATED TO 1 MARCH. DO YOU KNOW IF THIS MEANS BUSINESSES CAN RE-EMPLOY STAFF THAT HAVE BEEN LAID OFF AND FURLOUGH THEM INSTEAD? ALSO WOULD BE GOOD TO UNDERSTAND HOW THIS WOULD APPLY TO BUSINESSES WHO EMPLOY ON ZERO HOUR OR IRREGULAR PAYMENTS.

 We’ve been trying to work out how this might apply. Our current view is that someone might have “shut up shop” and simply said not to come in for the foreseeable future but made no express comment on employments being terminated. This would fit into the idea of being furloughed (US concept, not a UK concept…until now) and so we’d expect the grant being backdated. However, it’s not clear what happens if salary amounts are higher than the cap as there’s also been no agreement with the staff that they should accept a pay cut. We’d recommend getting an agreement in place in writing and referring to the entire period, if you laid people off before then. Alternatively, you may have explicitly said you’re fired and we’re closing, in which case the employment has been terminated and the employees are not furloughed. If you reemployed them, I understand they have lost their continuity of service and so wouldn’t meet the minimum one month employment condition for the grant.

IF A WORKER IS WORKING, DO WE HAVE TO PAY THEM FULL PAY AS NORMAL, OR 80%?

Normal pay, unless you have mutually agreed for them to take a pay cut, or their contract allows you to pay a lower rate.

WILL EU WORKERS BE DUE THE 80% PAY?

We would expect them to be but the detail is outstanding.

DO YOU ANTICIPATE A COMPLETE LOCKDOWN WOULD STOP ALL NON-FRONTLINE WORKERS FROM ATTENDING THEIR PLACES OF WORK? OR WILL WORKERS WHO ARE ESSENTIAL OR WILL WORKERS WHO ARE ESSENTIAL TO A BUSINESS BE ALLOWED TO STILL GO TO WORK?

One to watch and might depend on how responsive the general public are to the social distancing warnings.

IS PARTIAL FURLOUGHING ALLOWED WHEREBY PEOPLE WORK PART TIME?

It is in the US, but we will have to wait and see on this one in the UK. It would be helpful if you could do a partial furloughing.

WHEN DOES THE SUPPORT START AND FINISH IN THIS INITIAL PERIOD?

Presumably as soon as you furlough off staff and it’s expected to run for about 12 weeks, although may be extended.