Extensions announced to the coronavirus job retention scheme and statutory sick pay eligibility

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ("CJRS")

On 16th April 2020, the foreign secretary announced the Government would be extending social distancing measures for at least a further three weeks.

In response, the Chancellor announced that the CJRS would be extended by a further month - until 30th June 2020 - to provide businesses with clarity and certainty. The Chancellor has indicated that he will keep the CJRS under review to ensure it supports the UK's financial recovery.

The extension to the CJRS ensures that large businesses do not need to start collective consultation today if they anticipate that they need to make 100 or more redundancies at the end of the furlough scheme. As the consultation period for any such redundancies is 45 days, today would have been the trigger under the old CJRS expiry date.

Statutory Sick Pay ("SSP") eligibility

Some individuals with specified serious underlying health conditions have been classed at higher risk of severe illness from Coronavirus. These extremely vulnerable people are defined by guidance issued by Public Health England. The majority of these individuals received letters from the NHS asking them to isolate at home, or 'shield' themselves, for at least 12 weeks. These individuals have become known as 'shielders'.

On 16th April 2020, the government announced that SSP eligibility will be extended to shielders if they are isolating in line with NHS guidance and would otherwise meet the usual SSP eligibility criteria.

The recent Treasury Direction states that the period of furlough cannot commence until the actual or deemed period of SSP has ended (whether or not the employer has claimed SSP). This would imply that a shielder cannot be furloughed until the 12 week period has come to an end. However, the explanatory note to the updated SSP regulations suggests that a shielder can be furloughed in spite of this extended SSP entitlement. The recent updates to the CJRS are discussed in our article published yesterday, which is available here.

For more information on the article above please contact a member of the Employment team or visit the Coronavirus/ COVID-19 area on our website.

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