These FAQ’s have been updated and provide further information in relation to the Job Retention scheme as of the 1st of November.
What is the Job Retention Scheme (JRS)?
The JRS was introduced to help organisations who are affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The Scheme is to be used for staff who because of the impact of coronavirus are unable to work because the relevant part of the employer’s operations have closed such that they are unable to carry out any work or the level of work activity has been impacted (reduced). This enables the University to access financial support from the Government.
How long will it run for?
The scheme was initially available until 30 June 2020; however it has been extended several times and has now been extended until to 31 March 2021 (subject to review in January 2021). There are however changes in terms of the details of the scheme and how it operates from the 01 November. Some of those key changes are;
- The scheme is re-open to new entrants, so those on the University payroll on 31st October could be furloughed.
- It is still possible to work on a part-time basis and be furloughed for the remainder of the time. There are no upper of lower limits to the amount of hours that can be worked.
- The minimum period for furlough is 7 consecutive calendar days.
Will there be a reduction in my salary as a result of being a ‘furloughed worker’?
No. The University will continue to pay furloughed staff their normal salary during the period that they are furloughed.
Will this affect pension benefits of staff members?
No, there will be no impact upon the pensions contributions made whilst furloughed.
Does it count as a break in employment?
No, whilst an employee is ‘furloughed’ they will continue to be employed and their continuity of employment will be preserved. This does not count as a break in service.
What can a furloughed worker do?
If a staff member is furloughed from their role in its entirety, then the stance remains that they cannot undertake ANY work for any parts of the University. Furloughed workers can take part in training, so long as they do not provide services to, or generate revenue for the University.
For those furloughed on a part-time basis during their furloughed period, similarly they cannot undertake ANY work for any parts of the University outside of the part-time hours they will actually be working. Staff being furloughed will receive a letter which will detail clearly the dates and times within which work can be carried out. It is imperative that these rules are adhered to.
We do however encourage Furloughed workers to keep abreast of developments within the University, such as accessing the regular staff Newsletter, wellbeing initiatives, and to access their pay slips. Furloughed workers should NOT however respond to any work e-mails other than any their line manger may send about their return to work from Furlough.If staff are able to undertake some of their duties, but not all, can they be furloughed?
Yes, but only if they have been furloughed on a part-time basis, and the letter received will detail when those duties can be carried out.
What is the position on annual leave for staff who are furloughed?
Those staff who are furloughed will still accrue annual leave, and they would be expected to use their annual leave in the normal manner, with the same rules applying to them, for example, the ability to carry over a maximum of five days into the next annual leave year.
What if staff have COVID-19 related caring responsibilities, such as childcare due to school closures, can they be furloughed?
Yes, provided they are unable to work because they have caring responsibilities resulting from coronavirus. Those caring can be furloughed even if there is work for them to do, as they are not able to undertake any of that work because of caring responsibilities. Again, they should not be undertaking any work once they are furloughed. Any staff member who is able to undertake some work from home may still be furloughed and work on a part time basis. Any requirement to work from home will be detailed in the furlough letter. Staff being furloughed part time must not work for any parts of the University outside the dates and times identified in their furlough letter.
How long can staff be furloughed for?
The minimum period is 7 consecutive calendar days.
What is the position for those staff externally funded, for example a Research Grant or from a specific project?
Where a research funder has indicated they will agree to a no-cost extension because the research project has had to be temporarily halted then staff employed on that research project may be furloughed. However, other than any flexible working periods agreed (as detailed in their Furlough letter) any such staff must not undertake any work at all during designated furloughed periods (not even writing up papers or future grant proposals etc). Colleagues in RiiO have developed further guidance;
As noted above however, regardless of the funding source, only those staff members furloughed in the period March to June can be furloughed from the 01 July onwards.
Will the staff member be informed that they are being furloughed?
Yes. The relevant manager will discuss the Furlough period with the staff member before contacting HR. A letter will then be issued to them, by HR, confirming the details of the furlough period and will contain a link to this FAQ document
For those furloughed in October, and are not furloughed from the 01 November, will they receive a letter?
No, as the previous letter contained a furlough end date, if there is no further period of Furlough then no further letter would be issued. The relevant manager will however inform staff if this is the case and of any return to work details.
Can employees request to be furloughed?
Yes, but the stance remains that the scheme does not create any legal right for an employee to be furloughed or any legal right to request to be furloughed. The decision on whether or not to continue to furlough remains one for the University to take.