How is the University responding to furloughing?
On 5 November the Chancellor Rishi Sunak extended the UK Government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) from 31 October 2020, when it was due to end. With two further extension since that announcement, the last in the Budget on 3 March 2021, the CJRS will now run until 30 September 2021 and is open to new joiners as long as these staff were on our return to HMRC on 31 October 2020.
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. More Government guidance on the CJRS can be found at guidance for staff and guidance for line managers.
Staff can be furlough on full basis or a 'Flexible Furlough' basis where staff can be asked to return on a part-time and / or variable basis.
To be eligible for consideration under the scheme staff must have started working at the University in the month ending 31 October 2020 and have been included in the University's payroll return to Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs (HMRC) on that date.
We are continuing to consider if there are any staff who will need to be moved onto furlough (possibly for the second time) or extended as a result of the UK Government restrictions over this period.
The following guidance explains how the University is working to apply the CJRS 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 top up the 80% contribution offered by the Government and pay all our furloughed employees up to 100% of their basic pay, including National Insurance, tax contributions and, for members, pension contributions. This goes significantly above the capped limit and the 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. There will be a much smaller number of posts affected than in the first lock-down from March. 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 (flexible) 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 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, have identified those hourly-paid staff who were working at the University in the month ending 31 October 2020 and were included in the University's payroll return to Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs (HMRC). 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 have identified 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 identified (or would have been were it not for coronavirus) and who meet the requirements of the CJRS.
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 time-frame of the furlough period, and that;
(b) you will receive payment at the highest of either i. 100% of your basic pay or ii. 80% of your total calculated pay 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.
Further information on queries that you may in relation to these calculations can also be found at answers to questions on calculating variable pay
If you have a specific payroll query please click on this link for more information.
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.
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 your current return date or 30 September 2021. 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.
One place where you could volunteer currently is in supporting the NHS Vaccination Centre in Bath. No clinical skills are necessary and they are seeking volunteers for the following roles: Parking access stewards, front door stewards, back door stewards and main hall stewards. For more information and to apply please click on this link or email
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. It is very important and is expected that you take annual leave during your furlough period, at least at the rate it is accrued. This is very much to support your well-being and that of your colleagues.
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. 2 December 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? - returning after 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 has announced is extended to 31 September 2021. You may be furloughed from anywhere between three weeks to this full period. Your furlough letter will have the end date confirmed, which may be extended. Therefore, if for example, you are furloughed till 2 June 2021 you can currently expect to return to work on 3 June 2021.
You may be asked to return a 'flexible furlough' basis - see the section below.
Returning to work on a Flexible Furlough basis
The UK Government brought in Flexible Furlough arrangements from 1 July 2020 which allowed staff to return to work on a flexible basis.
With the extensions of the CJRS, the most recent through till 31 September 2021, staff can now be moved from working directly onto flexible furlough. This means that you can work on a part-time basis working some (but not all) of your substantive hours and these hours may be changed from week to week. During your non-working hours you remain on furlough and the University has agreed to top up the gap to 100% of basic pay so you will continue to be paid on your normal monthly basic pay.
If you are a line manager who is manage staff returning on a flexible furlough basis there is more guidance available for you here
How will I know that I will be coming back to work and what planning will there be before ?
Your line manager or Head of Department will contact you in advance to let you know that you will be coming back to work from a planned time.
They will explain your exact working arrangements to you and what you will be doing. If you are returning to work on campus they will take you through the risk assessment process to ensure your safe return to a COVID-secure working environment. The return of all staff to campus has gone through a careful planning and risk assessment process to ensure that there is safe working. It is important that you follow in full all guidance given you on how you keep yourself and others safe.
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.