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Shared & Halved - Business Leaders series: Employment issues

To support our clients and contacts dealing with the employment aspects of the current pandemic, we hosted a webinar looking at the key issues facing employers and how best to address them, with a particular focus on the support being offered by the government through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.


Coronavirus COVID-19 is a crisis unlike any other we have faced as a country, presenting a new and varied set of challenges to UK and global businesses. Based on what you’ve told us is most pertinent to you in the current climate, we have devised a series of webinars aimed at you, business leaders, to look at the implications of the outbreak. In this webinar we focused on the employment issues which have arisen and what steps the government is taking to support employers in the current climate. Below are our key tips and takeaways.

How can we reduce staff overheads at this time?

  • seek to rely on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) to reclaim 80% of normal monthly wage costs up to a cap of £2,500 a month, plus associated employer NICs and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on that wage
  • consider lay off where there is a contractual right to do so
  • agree a pay cut or reduced hours with affected staff
  • halt recruitment
  • terminate offers of employment (giving notice where appropriate)
  • offer sabbaticals or ask for volunteers to take unpaid leave
  • redundancies

Can all employers take advantage of the CJRS?

Yes, provided that:

  • their operations have been severly affected by coronavirus – it is useful for employers to prepare a position paper setting out the impact which the pandemic has had
  • they created and started a PAYE payroll scheme on or before 28 February 2020
  • they have enrolled for PAYE online
  • they have a UK bank account

Who can be furloughed under the CJRS?

  • those individuals who were on the employer’s PAYE payroll on or before 28 February 2020
  • NB: Individuals who left after this date can be re-hired by the employer in order to be placed on furlough leave but there is no obligation on an employer to do so. Legal advice should be sought before agreeing to re-hire an ex-employee.
  • individuals on the PAYE payroll can include:
    • those on fixed-term contracts
    • apprentices
    • company directors
    • office holders
    • agency workers
    • limb (b) workers

What should you do now? Be practical and pragmatic

  • consider which approach is right for your business
  • make use of the government support available
  • identify employees to be furloughed and seek their agreement
  • write to confirm furlough leave for relevant employees
  • ensure furlough leave lasts for a minimum of 3 consecutive weeks
  • keep copies of the letters and any positioning paper for 5 years
  • ensure those on furlough leave do not carry out any services to or generate revenue for or on behalf of the employer
  • access the online portal to reclaim the grant under the scheme once operational – hopefully by the end of April

For details of further webinars we are running please visit our coronavirus COVID-19 hub here.


This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. © Shoosmiths LLP 2022.

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