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Coronavirus

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme update

The Government has introduced the new ‘flexible furlough’ scheme covering the period 1 July 2020 to 31 October 2020 and has also confirmed the staged decrease in the sums that employers can recover from the government from 1 August 2020 onwards.

Under the extension to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (‘CJRS’), from 1 July 2020 employers can bring furloughed employees back to work for any amount of time and any shift pattern, while still being able to claim the CJRS reimbursement of wages for the hours not worked.

The timetable for changes to the reimbursement available under the scheme is set out below.

  • for August, the government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 for the hours an employee is on furlough leave and employers will pay employers’ national insurance and pension contributions for the hours the employee is on furlough leave.
  • for September, the government will pay 70% of wages up to a cap of £2,187.50 for the hours the employee is on furlough leave. Employers will pay employers’ national insurance and pension contributions and top up employees’ wages to ensure they receive 80% of their wages up to a cap of £2,500, for time they are furloughed.
  • for October, the government will pay 60% of wages up to a cap of £1,875 for the hours the employee is on furlough leave. Employers will pay employers’ national insurance and pension contributions and top up employees’ wages to ensure they receive 80% of their wages up to a cap of £2,500, for time they are furloughed.

Wage caps are proportional to the hours not worked.

Employers will continue to able to choose to top up employee wages above the 80% total and £2,500 cap for the hours not worked at their own expense if they wish. Employers will have to pay their employees for the hours worked.

Coronavirus Job Retention Bonus

On 8 July 2020, the government announced the introduction of a Job Retention Bonus.  As part of the government’s plan to support jobs, a Job Retention Bonus will be introduced to help employers retain furloughed workers. UK employers will receive a one-off bonus of £1,000 for each previously furloughed employee who is still employed as of 31 January 2021.

This has clearly been introduced in order to encourage employers not to make redundancies.  However, for employers who have already decided that there is no other option but to make redundancies, it is unlikely to be enough to make them reconsider.

Statutory sick pay for ‘test and trace’

Entitlement to statutory sick pay has been extended to people who have been told to isolate under the new ’test and trace’ system, which started in England on 28 May 2020.

A person who has been notified that they have had contact with a person with coronavirus, and who is self-isolating for 14 days as a result, will be entitled to statutory sick pay.

Dismissal of Church Minister due to marriage breakdown not discriminatory. . . but could be

In the Employment Appeal Tribunal (‘EAT’) case of Gould v St John’s Downshire Hill, a vicar’s dismissal following the breakdown of his marriage was found not to amount to discrimination.

The Claimant was the vicar of an evangelical Christian church.  He was dismissed in August 2016 and alleged that the reason for this was due to the breakdown of his marriage.  He therefore brought a claim for unfair dismissal and marriage discrimination.  The tribunal found that the breakdown of his marriage was not the reason for his dismissal, which was actually due to the way he publicly vocalised the difficulties in his marriage.  The Claimant appealed to the EAT.

The EAT held that if the tribunal had decided that the Claimant’s behaviour would not have been a significant reason for his dismissal in circumstances where he was not married, or if a significant reason for this dismissal was that the church Trustees had believed that a marital breakdown meant a vicar could not continue in office, the claim would have succeeded.  However, this was not the case here.

Could Employment Tribunal fees be returning?

Employment tribunal fees were abolished in July 2017 following the Supreme Court’s decision in R (on the application of Unison) v Lord Chancellor.

It has recently been reported that the Ministry of Justice has written to the Law Commission inviting it to provide recommendations for creating a coherent system for charging and updating fees in the future.

The Law Commission is an independent body whose purpose is to review the law of England and Wales and recommend reform where needed.  It will need to consult prior to issuing its report.  This could potentially be the first stage for a re-introduction of employment tribunal fees.

Fair dismissal in reliance upon evidence of anonymous witness

In the Employment Appeal Tribunal (‘EAT’) case of Tai Tarian v Christie, it was held to be within the range of reasonable responses to dismiss someone in reliance upon the evidence of an anonymous witness.

The employer is a housing association and employed the Claimant as a carpenter.  The Claimant was dismissed following a tenant alleging that the Claimant had made homophobic comments to her.  The tenant was interviewed by two managers but requested that she remain anonymous and therefore was not interviewed by the decision makers to the claimant’s dismissal.  The tribunal found that the dismissal was unfair as it was outside the range of reasonable responses for the employer to rely on an anonymous account.

The employer appealed to the EAT which concluded that the tribunal had not met the test of demonstrating any good reason for its conclusion that the employer could not have reasonably accepted the tenant’s evidence as truthful.  It further concluded that the tribunal was incorrect to conclude that the tenant had refused to give further evidence given that she had only been asked once and had declined due to personal circumstances.

To discuss any of the information above please contact Tom Evans  on 0151 230 1217 or Elizabeth Judson on 0151 556 1125

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