When does someone need to have joined the University to be eligible for furlough?
For furlough periods ending on or before 30 April 2021 to be eligible for furlough, someone must have been on the University PAYE on 30 October 2020. This means that they were on a Real Time Information (RTI) submission notifying payment for that employee to HMRC made on 23 October 2020 (or during the period 20 March to 23 October) and were not subsequently dismissed.
For periods starting on or after 1 May 2021, you can claim for employees who were employed on 2 March 2021, as long as the University has made a PAYE Real Time Information (RTI) submission to HMRC between 20 March 2020 and 2 March 2021, notifying a payment of earnings for that employee. You do not need to have previously claimed for an employee before the 2 March 2021 to claim for periods from starting on or after 1 May 2021.
Can academic staff be furloughed?
Yes, on the same basis as other staff, if they meet the criteria. This includes furlough for caring responsibilities relating to COVID-19.
Can we furlough an academic staff member who is on sabbatical if they have caring responsibilities related to COVID-19?
Yes, where because of COVID-19 the staff member is unable to do as much University work (eg research or teaching preparation) during a paid sabbatical as was the case previously. Any hours for which they are furloughed must be hours that they would otherwise have been using to carry out University work. It is likely that most instances will be for caring reasons, and will be part-time furlough (if academic staff were furloughed full-time, they would not be able to do any work related to their research, even outside of normal working hours).
Are variable hours employees eligible to be put on furlough?
Yes. Please refer to ‘Paying variable hours employees and casual workers on furlough’ below.
NB variable hours staff cannot be placed on part-time furlough
Are employees on fixed-term contracts eligible for furlough?
Yes, for as long as their employment with us lasts – see below for further guidance on extending contracts.
Can we extend the contracts of fixed term staff who are furloughed?
To be consistent with the principles of the government scheme and to avoid significant unbudgeted costs, we will not extend the fixed-term contracts. We may furlough those whose employment would have come to an end if the current crisis had not occurred. As the end of a fixed-term contract nears the contract may be extended and the employee remain on furlough only if:
- there is work for the individual to carry out should return to onsite working be agreed during the agreed extension and there is funding agreed to support the extension;
- the staff member won’t be serving a notice period (although this will normally only be the case if the Department has given notice to end a fixed-term contract before its expiry date - the letter that Departments send to employees reminding them of the upcoming end of a fixed-term contract on its end-date does not count as a notice period);
- for internally funded fixed-term employees the employing department is confident that it would have extended their contract if the COVID-19 crisis had not occurred. If the costs are to be met from within departmental budgets the extension will be subject to recruitment protocol agreement and the relevant process must have been completed and authorisation granted before an extension is agreed;
- For externally funded fixed-term employees departments have obtained confirmation from the funder that:
- The funder is content that staff on the award may be furloughed;
- The funder will allow that part of the salary costs not covered by the CJRS (that is until 30 June 2021 20% of the salary costs, employer NIC and pensions contributions and any amount of the salary cost over £2,500pm, with costs increasing for July, August and September 2021 (for details see employment costs) to be charged as an eligible cost to the award; and
- The existing value of the award would be preserved, meaning that the effect of recovering salary costs through the CJRS would enable the period of the award and employment of staff to be extended within the limits of funds available within the award.
We don’t have any departmental/external funds available to furlough an employee who is reaching the end of their fixed-term contract – can we still furlough them and just pay them the proportion of their usual salary that will be covered by the government’s CJRS?
The University has committed that it will pay staff at their normal rate of pay.
Are casual and temporary staff (including TSS) eligible to be put on furlough?
Yes, casual and temporary workers can be furloughed for any period for which we had a commitment to provide them with work. We would not expect to extend commitments to casual or temporary workers where we do not have work for them to do.
Those on variable hours engagements will have their pay (and the amount to be recouped through the CJRS) calculated as specified for variable hours employees – see above.
Are contractors eligible to be put on furlough?
Self-employed contractors may be able to claim for themselves from the government’s scheme but the University cannot put them on furlough.
Contractors working through IR35 and paid through our payroll are eligible for furlough.
Are apprentices eligible to be put on furlough?
Yes. The government has arrangements in place to allow them to continue with the ‘off the job’ training element of their Apprenticeship while on furlough.
You should inform the apprentice’s Training Provider and the University Apprenticeships Team, using the form available on the University Apprenticeships webpage, so that an assessment can be made of whether the apprentice needs to take a temporary break in their learning or can continue.
If you have any questions about how furlough applies to apprentices and to access the form please consult information on the University Apprenticeships webpage.
Are those on doctoral training schemes, or other programmes with a work and study element, eligible for furlough?
It is unlikely that they will be eligible for furlough, since any study they undertook may be deemed to be too closely related and contributing to their work. Unless the lockdown prevents them from both studying and working, they should not be furloughed. If they cannot do either, seek further HR advice, and consider suspending their studies too.
Should we furlough staff who are clinically extremely vulnerable or have otherwise been advised not to attend work on medical grounds?
A member of staff who cannot attend work (regardless of whether their work is ‘essential work’ or not) because they have been instructed by their doctor, the NHS or other government advice to stay at home and who cannot be redeployed to work that they can carry out from home, should be furloughed. The reason for this should be recorded as ‘unable to work at home’.
Are those who entered the University’s employment as a result of a TUPE transfer eligible for furlough? What if they joined recently?
The rules for staff transferring under TUPE are very complex and departments considering furloughing staff who have been TUPE-ed into the University should speak to the HR Policy team (contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org) as early as possible.
Can staff be furloughed while on family leave?
No one can be furloughed on the grounds that they are on family leave.
Someone can be furloughed while in receipt of contractual maternity pay (or its equivalent for other types of family leave) if:
- they meet the criteria ie they have agreed to do no work for the period of their furlough,
- it lasts 7 consecutive calendar days or more, and
- they are unable to do the work they would be doing if not on family leave because of reasons related to COVID-19 (ie due to COVID-19-related caring responsibilities or the nature of their work)
It is unlikely that someone would be furloughed while on family leave unless others in their team or doing similar jobs were also being furloughed.
Someone cannot be furloughed while in receipt of statutory maternity, paternity, shared parental or adoption pay only or while on unpaid family leave of any type.
Can someone returning from family leave (maternity, paternity, shared parental, adoption, parental bereavement leave) be furloughed?
Any staff who meet the scheme eligibility criteria can be furloughed.
Can someone be furloughed while on sick leave?
A period of furlough should not be started to cover absences caused by short-term illnesses or self-isolation, but if an employee is already on furlough and then becomes sick, they can remain on furlough (whilst COVID-19 would prevent their return from work even if they did get better).
Someone can also be furloughed if they are currently on paid sick leave under the contractual or statutory sick pay scheme and it is clear that they would have been furloughed had they been in work i.e. others in their team carrying out the same or similar duties have been furloughed. Furlough cannot be used for someone who is currently on unpaid sick leave and is not yet ready to return to work.
The period of sickness absence will end when staff move to furlough and so the period of furlough will not count towards their sickness absence record and they will return to full pay.
Can someone be furloughed if they have occasional work to do?
Yes, as long as they will have a period of 7 consecutive calendar days between the occasions on which they need to work. This might fit for someone who has a residual task to do that takes place monthly. You might also consider whether a period of part-time furlough would work.
Can I furlough someone who is working their notice?
If an employee is serving a notice period (eg because they have resigned or given notice of termination for redundancy other than the end of a fixed term contract at its expected end date) but cannot perform work because of COVID-19, then no government reimbursement can be claimed (NB these rules changed with effect from 1 December 2020, reimbursement can be claimed for notice service in the period to 1 December 2020). However, if appropriate, a department could still agree with the employee that they will be on paid garden leave (without government reimbursement) during their notice period. Staff who are approaching the end of a fixed term contract which is ending at its expected end date can be furloughed as, although the University process requires that they are reminded of their contract end date, this is not formally a notice period.
We have an employee who has two (or more) jobs at the University – can they be furloughed from one post and not the other?
Yes. The requirement of the furlough scheme is that during the hours that an employee is furloughed they should not be working for the employer. Therefore, an employee who works, for example, Monday to Wednesday in one University post and Thursday and Friday in another could be furloughed from one of these posts, since during the hours they are furloughed they would not be working elsewhere in the University. This is less straightforward for a Variable Hours employee with multiple posts who is only furloughed from one post. Departments will need to ensure that between the furlough pay and pay for hours actually worked no more than the equivalent of the individual's normal full pay is being paid to the individual. If the hours for the worked role increase it may no longer be appropriate to continue paying the employee (or claiming reimbursement) for some or all of the furloughed role. The general idea would be that the employee should not receive more pay (nor should reimbursement be claimed) as a result of going onto furlough for one role than would have been the case if the employee had continued working both roles.