Covid-19 Employment Law Q&A
If I am made redundant after furlough, how is my redundancy pay calculated?
If you have worked for your employer continuously for two years or more, you will be eligible for a statutory redundancy payment. This is calculated on the basis of your age, your years of service and the amount of your weekly pay. The maximum amount of weekly pay allowed for the purposes of the calculation is £538 ,which is the gross amount, before tax and national insurance are taken off. What if, at the time your week’s pay is being calculated, you are only receiving 80% of your normal pay because you are furloughed under the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme? Will you be entitled to a payment based on your normal weekly pay, or will it be based on your reduced furlough pay? Unfortunately the government has not made the position clear. It is widely expected to be the case however that the payment will be based on your “normal” weekly pay figure, rather than on your furlough pay.
I’m worried about returning to work because of the Coronavirus. What are my rights?
Your employer should make every reasonable effort to enable you to work from home – it remains the government’s guidance that we should all work from home “where possible”. If this isn’t possible and staff are required to return to your workplace, the employer must carry out a risk assessment in order to make the workplace “COVID-Secure”. There is a duty to consult staff over the risk assessment. It may be that these steps will reassure you that it’s safe to return. It is likely to be a breach of your contract simply to refuse to return to work. However section 44 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 provides that an employer must not subject you to any detriment in certain health and safety related situations. These include a situation where an employee refuses to work in a particular place because of a dangerous working environment which cannot reasonably be averted. The provisions are detailed and complex and you should take proper advice if you believe you are facing a situation where you genuinely believe your workplace to be dangerous.
Can I work part time for my employer while on furlough?
The simple answer at the moment is no! Under the government’s scheme you must not carry out any work for your employer while furloughed. There are some things that are probably not classed as “work” for these purposes, such as certain union related activities, training and participating in redundancy consultation exercises. Things are about to change however. From 1st July employers will be able to start bringing back furloughed employees on a part time basis. This is expected to continue until the end of October, when the government’s furlough scheme (or Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, to give its correct title) will come to an end.
Do you have other questions?
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Disclaimer: These Q&As do not constitute bespoke legal advice and are provided for general information purposes only, as at 2nd June 2020”