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COVID19 - information on furlough leave

Government Job Retention Scheme

The government have introduced a scheme to allow some employers to furlough certain members of staff and reclaim a proportion of their salaries.

The government job Retention Scheme is available to public sector organisations and the guidance states that "the government expects that the scheme will not be used by many public sector organisations, as the majority of public sector employees are continuing to provide essential public services or contribute to the response to the coronavirus outbreak".

At this point, we should highlight strongly that NALC feels that the government guidance at this point is not clear on whether local councils could reclaim salaries from furloughed employees or not. More information be forthcoming when the government clarify this situation.

It would appear to be possibly relevant for those staff whose jobs have fallen away as a result of the restrictions being put in place to fight COVID-19 and where they cannot be reallocated to other roles. At the heart, the Job Retention scheme is to help avoid redundancies. For example, where a local council has community facilities that have been closed as a result of COVID-19, there will be no income from these facilities to pay for the caretaker or other staff who run the facilities.

So where local councils have staff who are unable to work in their current roles, where that role is funded from income other than precept, and they are unable to be redeployed to another role to support the response to Coronavirus, the council may wish to consider furloughing those staff with the hope of being able to reclaim a portion of their salaries. But at this stage, NALC could not be certain that the council would be successful in claiming back that salary.

If a local council is considering furloughing any staff then NALC and HR Service Partnerships (HRSP) have produced template letters for members to aid this process — find out more.

Posted: Thu, 02 Apr 2020 16:01 by Alison Robinson

Tags: COVID19, Coronavirus, NALC, advice, furlough leave, news