Furlough scheme extended until April 2021 as government promises to continue paying up to 80% of wages

THE furlough scheme is being extended until April 2021 with the government paying 80% of the wages for hours not worked by staff.

Furlough had been due to end in March 2021 but Chancellor Rishi Sunak today said the scheme will run for one extra month.

Mr Sunak was originally going to review furlough – officially known as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – in January.

In his statement today, the Chancellor he decided to bring his review forward to give businesses certainty going into the new year.

Like the current furlough rules, employers will only be required to pay wages, National Insurance Contributions (NICS) and pensions for hours worked.

For hours not worked, they'll need to pay just NICS and pensions.

Can I be made redundant if I’m on furlough?

EVEN though furlough is designed to keep workers employed, unfortunately it doesn’t protect you from being made redundant.

But it doesn't affect your redundancy pay rights if you are let go from your job amid the coronavirus crisis.

Your employer should still carry out a fair redundancy process.

You will be entitled to be consulted on the redundancy lay-off first and to receive a statutory redundancy payment, as long as you've been working somewhere for at least two years.

How much you're entitled to depends on your age and length of service, although this is capped at 20 years. You'll get:

  • Half a week’s pay for each full year you were under 22,
  • One week’s pay for each full year you were 22 or older, but under 41,
  • One and half week’s pay for each full year you were 41 or older.

Sadly, you won't be entitled to a payout if you've been working for your employer for fewer than two years.

There should be a period of collective consultation as well as time for individual ones if your employer wants to make 20 or more employees redundant within 90 days or each other.

You are also entitled to appeal the decision by claiming unfair dismissal within three months of being let go.

If you're made redundant after your company has gone into administration you can claim redundancy pay via Gov.uk.

Those who've previously been eligible for furlough will continue to be allowed access to the scheme.

Furloughed staff currently get 80% of their usual salary for hours not worked, up to £2,500 a month.

Employers are still able to choose to top up employee wages above the scheme grant at their own expense – but they don't have to.

Workers also get their usual full salary for any hours they do work.

We've asked the Treasury is the cap of £2,500 will remain in place for April and we'll update this article when we know more.

The Sun is also checking if the date for staff being a payroll is changing.

At the moment, you need to have been on your employer's payroll by 11.59pm, October 30 2020, to be furloughed. 

Employees can be on any type of contract, meaning you could still be furloughed if you are part-time or a contract worker.

So far, around 9.6 million people have been furloughed across the UK thanks to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

The Chancellor also announced that government-backed loan schemes designed to support stricken businesses will continue until the end of March.

This includes access the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, and the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

These schemes, which have provided over £68billion in guaranteed loans, had been due to close at the end of January.

In his statement today, Mr Sunak also confirmed the date of the next Budget will be on 3 March, along with the latest economic forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility.

He said: “Our package of support for businesses and workers continues to be one of the most generous and effective in the world – helping our economy to recover and protecting livelihoods across the country.

“We know the premium businesses place on certainty, so it is right that we enable them to plan ahead regardless of the path the virus takes, which is why we’re providing certainty and clarity by extending this support, as well as implementing our Plan for Jobs.”

Business Secretary, Alok Sharma, said: “While our loan schemes have provided a vital lifeline to millions of firms across the country, we know that business owners need additional certainty as we head into the New Year.

“Extending government-backed loan schemes will give companies right across the UK the finance they need to support, protect and create jobs as we build back better from the pandemic.”

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