Most continue to welcome the Job Retention Scheme, including its extension until at least 30 June.

However the way the government have released information on the Scheme has not been helpful including issuing 5 different versions of guidance to employers in less than a month.

We also have a formal Direction to HRMC regarding the Scheme which adds new conditions on eligibility and at times contradicts the latest government guidance. 

Not ideal.

My views on the above can be found (amongst much excellent commentary from colleagues) on the Ledingham Chalmers' Covid-19 Hub.

Another problem has been the government avoiding answering a pressing question: can an employee be furloughed and on annual leave at the same time?

We may now have an affirmative answer.

If I seem a trifle reticent about this I apologise. However I have my reasons.

The first is that the information about holidays is found in an update on guidance for employees (not employers) issued Friday 17th April.  It is not in the Direction.

Another reason is that government guidance can change. In the case of holidays the government have expressly flagged this up by telling us “…we are keeping the policy on holiday pay during furlough under review.”

Finally the guidance states employees can chose to take holidays while furloughed.  It does not actually say employers can require furloughed staff to do so.

My view is that employers can require staff to take holidays while furloughed. Others disagree.

If I am right this gives employers new powers, albeit not necessarily popular ones.

Why would employers wish to insist furloughed staff take annual leave?

One reason is to save money on holiday pay.

I did say this might not be popular. However many businesses are in survival mode.

On a more positive note employers may wish to insist on this to ensure they have staff back at work when they are most needed.

Of course there remain some questions. A major one is how much to pay staff  who are both furloughed and on holiday. 

The complex, and at times slightly bizarre, rules on holiday pay are a bit too much for what is intended as a (relatively) short update. However the Ledingham Chalmers’ employment team will be more than happy to discuss.