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University of Bath

Furloughing - Guidance for Staff on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)

Explains for our staff how the CJRS will work in the University. Updated 19 May (Extension of Scheme to 31 October)

How is the University responding to furloughing?

As you will be aware, while many of our services have successfully moved online, the University has had to reduce a number of its operations as part of national efforts to tackle coronavirus (COVID-19), and in some cases to suspend them entirely. While these are all extremely valuable services during normal times, they are ones that cannot be carried out in the current situation as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak.

On 20 March the UK Government announced the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). The CJRS is designed to avoid redundancies by enabling organisations to have staff on “furlough” if their post is temporarily not required or cannot be undertaken as a result of the impact of coronavirus. It has also been extended to include staff unable to work due to carer responsibilities and / or having to shield themselves. On 12 May the UK Government extended the scheme through to 31 July 2020 under the current 80% funding arrangements with a further extension from 1 August to 31 October under arrangements to be confirmed.

To be eligible for consideration under the scheme staff must have started working at the University in the month ending 29 February 2020 and have been included in the University's payroll return to Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs (HMRC) on 19 March 2020. This means that staff must have started in the University on or before 25 February 2020.

The following guidance explains how the University intends to respond to the CJRS, how it will be applied and what it means for you as a member of staff.

The University’s response

The University is committed to protecting its staff and the University as much as possible and is therefore taking the decision to engage with the Government’s scheme and to furlough staff now, where this is appropriate.

The University has decided to pay all our furloughed employees on their full salaries, including National Insurance, tax contributions and, for members, pension contributions. This goes significantly above the capped limit and 80% contribution offered by the Government.

The University is committed to a fair and appropriate process, including an Assurance Committee to review all decisions, and has consulted with representatives from all our recognised trade unions (UCU, UNISON and UNITE).

How the CJRS will be applied at the University

How will staff be identified for furlough?

Under the CJRS, the University is proposing that staff who hold posts in services that are reduced or suspended are placed on furlough. HR Business Partners have been working with Heads of Departments to understand and identify which posts this applies to. There are two scenarios:

  • service suspended for a temporary period - in this situation all staff holding posts in the team would be placed on furlough;

  • service reduced for a temporary period - in this situation a proportion of the staff in a set post may be placed on furlough or there may be an option to rotate staff on/off furlough (which must be for at least three weeks each).

Each post will be identified for furlough if the following apply:

  • the post is not required, or cannot be undertaken, on a temporary basis, as a result of coronavirus and;

  • the post meets the requirements of the CJRS.

All posts identified for furlough will be independently reviewed by the Assurance Committee to ensure all decisions are applied appropriately and as fairly as possible. It is emphasised that the decision to furlough a post is not in any way related to the value placed on its role by the University.

Hourly-paid staff and furlough

How does furlough affect me if I am on an hourly-paid worker contract?

Where work continues, for example supporting students’ learning online, we would expect this hourly-paid work to continue to its natural conclusion.

The CJRS can apply to hourly-paid (casual) worker roles in certain situations as specified in the Government’s guidance. The guidance in this area in particular has been subject to significant change since 23 March 2020 and this is likely to continue on an ongoing basis. The University has had to respond to these changes and will continue to do so.

The University will adopt the following process to identify any posts filled by staff on an hourly-paid contract where the CJRS could apply:

  • Heads of Departments, advised and supported by HR Business Partners, will identify those hourly-paid staff who were working at the University in the month ending 29 February 2020 and were included in the University's payroll return to Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs (HMRC) on 19 March 2020. This means that staff must have started in the University on or before 25 February 2020. In order to be considered for furlough, hourly-paid staff must also be undertaking no other work in the University during their period of being on furlough.

  • Heads of Departments and HR Business Partners will identify if there are any hourly-paid staff in each department for whom there would have been an ongoing requirement / obligation to work through the furlough period (or would have been were it not for coronavirus) and who meet the requirements of the CJRS. This assessment process is taking place between 23 April and 30 April 2020.

  • Those identified will then be considered for furlough following a similar process as that for staff on substantive contracts (as above) and informed by an emailed variation statement where confirmed as furloughed.

  • Payments to hourly-paid staff will be based upon the formula provided by the UK Government in its CJRS guidance.

This means that there may well be some circumstances where it is not possible or not appropriate to furlough our hourly-paid staff. We are encouraging managers to treat staff in that situation with respect, and if possible reschedule work to be able to offer some continued opportunities to earn. If this is not possible, in cases of real hardship the University may be able to offer some help. Any such case should be sent to the Director of HR through your line manager.

I am a casual worker who has been informed that I am being placed on “furlough”. What does this mean for me and how will you calculate what I will be paid?

A. Essentially it means that:

(a) you are required to not work in any role within the University within the specified timeframe of the furlough period, and that

(b) you will receive payment according to the formula in the UK Government’s CJRS scheme which is set out below.

The payment for the period of your furlough will be calculated under the Government’s formula which gives three scenarios:

i. If you have been employed by us for 12 months or more, then we will pay you based on the highest of either the: - same month’s earning from the previous year or - average monthly earnings for the 2019-2020 tax year

ii. If, however, you have been employed for less than 12 months, you will be paid on your average monthly earnings since you started work.

iii. Should you only have started in February 2020, then we will calculate a monthly pro-rating of your earnings so far and pay based on that amount for the furloughed period.

Researchers and other solely research-funded staff

How does furlough affect me if I am a researcher or research-funded member of staff?

Research & Innovation Services (RIS) have created some guidance for managing possible furlough situations for research-funded staff, please see the section titled Furlough Scheme, which incorporates guidance from UKRI. We will be referring to this guidance when considering any research-funded posts for possible furloughing.

Staff not identified for furlough

Many posts are still required to ensure the University continues to run during this unprecedented period – a small number on campus and many working from home / online. This means staff in these posts will not be identified for furlough and will continue to work as per their contract.

The priority is to ensure we have staff who can do their job, whilst mitigating risk, with as little risk or complications as possible during this challenging time.

Staff identified for furlough

If I am identified for furlough, how will I be notified?

If you have been identified for furlough, the HR Operations team will send out an email to your University email address confirming this. This will include more information about the arrangements around furlough and a link to Frequently Asked Questions on Furloughing. This process of communication started from 10 April. In order to manage this effectively roles have been identified in several phases so that staff can be communicated with.

Will being on furlough affect me receiving my salary?

No, the University will continue to pay you on your full salary for your post as normal. The University will claim back any funding from the Government separately so you do not need to worry about this.

What happens when I am on furlough?

Remaining in contact

You should keep in reasonable contact with your line manager during the furlough period. This allows them to keep you up to date on all developments, offer support and to contact you if there is an opportunity to return to work before 31 May. Your line manager will also be touch prior to the end of the furlough period to confirm your return to work.

Continue your personal and professional development

We would encourage you to continue personal and professional development. Please consider any available online training offered through staff development or the development toolkit, as well as thinking about your own personal goals.

Taking up Volunteering

You are permitted to take on voluntary roles when on furlough. We strongly encourage you to take up volunteering activities during this period, if you are able, for example in the local community or as an NHS volunteer to assist at this time of national crisis.

What happens to my annual leave when I am on furlough?

During furlough you will continue to accrue annual leave. Therefore, you should use leave at the same rate that you accrue it during the furlough period and take any pre-booked leave.

What do I do if I am a line manager and am being furloughed

It is really important that you hand over to your next in line manager and redirect iTrent, Agresso and other systems so that leave and other requests, invoices etc can all be dealt with while you are on furlough.

Can I still use my University email and systems?

Yes. All staff will continue to have access to their University email accounts and University systems, although it is imperative you should not do any work if you are on furlough.

Does being put on furlough mean that I am more likely to be made redundant in the future?

The furlough scheme is about avoiding redundancies. Should there be a need for reductions in the number of staff at some point in the future, furlough will not be taken into account.

Should I put on an out-of-office if I am on furlough?

We suggest that it would be helpful to others if you put up an out-of-office message on your Outlook email. The below is a form of words that we suggest that you base your message on.

Thank you for your message.

I am currently on 'furlough' under the UK Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).

I am due to return to my role on [current return date e.g. 31 May 2020], or earlier, dependent on developments. In the meantime, please contact [name and contact details of most appropriate contact] on [contact email address].

What happens at the end of furlough?

Furlough is an identified period with a current start date, the earliest of which can be 1 March 2020 and a finish date which the UK Government announced on 17 April was being extended to 30 June 2020. You may be furloughed from anywhere between three weeks to this full period. Your furlough letter will have the end date confirmed. Therefore, if you are furloughed for the full period, we currently expect you to return to work on 1 July.

Your line manager should be in contact with you throughout furlough and will be able to confirm arrangements for your return, including whether this is before or after 1 July 2020, if the furlough scheme is extended again.

Please be aware, furlough may well be extended due to the fluidity of the current situation.

Further information

For further information on the University’s response to the CJRS and how the scheme affects you, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions or speak to your line manager. If these do not answer your question(s) then please email your question to CV19enquiries@bath.ac.uk.

More information on the background on the governments CJRS and furlough scheme, which underpins the University’s furlough scheme, is available on the UK Government's furlough webpages.

Please note that the UK Government’s policies on the CJRS are constantly being updated. As these changes come through we will continue to update this information accordingly.