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Covid-19 Update - 16th September 2021

Furlough

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) or furlough scheme finally comes to an end this month, with 30 September 2021 being the last date. There are no current plans from the government to extend the scheme beyond this date, although there have been a number of calls from unions and political parties for this to be done.

Employers should already have decided whether they will take back furloughed employees or whether they will need to make them redundant - and if the latter should already have begun the process. If not, this should be considered as a matter of urgency.

From 1 August 2021 employers will already be contributing 20% of the payment (plus National Insurance contributions and employer pensions) with the government making up the remaining 60%.

Working from home

The government is also no-longer instructing any employees to work from home, with the decision now resting with employers as to whether employees should be returning to the office or continuing either fully from home or a flexible hybrid. If that is the case then employers should be implementing a Hybrid Working Policy. Employers should remember that if an employee has worked for the business for more than 26 weeks they have a legal right to make a flexible working request, which the business must consider. If such a request is made, for example, to work more than the allowed days per week from home, employers should follow the ACAS Code of Practice on handling flexible working requests.

Reasons not to return to the office

Employers should be aware that they will need to tread lightly where childcare is concerned. Employees on furlough will have had to have reduced childcare and be operating on reduced income through no fault of their own, and where employees have more than two years service, employers should be aware that women in particular (as the childcare burden often falls to them) may well be able to bring an unfair dismissal claim if they are dismissed for being unable to immediately return to the office on the basis of childcare.

Posted on 16 September, 2021 by Ortolan

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