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Furlough scheme and re-employment

I have now lost count the number of times the government has amended its guidance on the all important furlough scheme.

One aspect which I have been keeping an eye on is the ability of employers to re-employ employees who have stopped working for the employer and then to place them on furlough.

The thinking has presumably been to open the scheme to those employees who were made redundant on the introduction of the UK's "lockdown" and before the furlough scheme being announced on 20 March (perhaps also employees who have resigned and whose new jobs have fallen through).

Initial guidance

The initial guidance essentially said that if an employee had been on the payroll on 28 February and had stopped working for the employer, the employer could re-employ them and furlough them.

The guidance was subsequently narrowed, so that the employee must not just have been on the payroll on 28 February, but must have stopped working for the employer prior to 19 March.

Latest

Happily, the guidance was updated again on 23 April (and possibly again by the time you read this).

The latest iteration of the guidance seems to take us back to the initial position, with no requirement that the employee had stopped working for the employer prior to 19 March.

This is a narrow point, not applicable to most employees or employers. It is, however, a worrying reminder to employers (and nervous employment lawyers), that in these strange times, uncomfortable reliance is necessarily being placed on guidance rather than that all comforting "law".

Veil Matti Raikkonen

Senior associate Veli-Matti provides employment law and human resources advice to public and private sector employers on matters including collective consultation, redundancy issues, equal opportunities, ill health policies and discipline issues.

Posted, 24 April 2020 by Veli-Matti Raikkonen
Categories: Coronavirus | Coronavirus and employment law | Employment | Insights