The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Update: 2 June 2020

The deadline for adding staff (whether fixed or variable hours) to the scheme is the end of June and staff must have completed at least one 21-day period on furlough by then for the University to be able to claim reimbursement. This means that the furlough must have begun and been recorded in CoreHR by 5pm on Tuesday 9 June.

 
SUMMARY

The Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) allows the University to reclaim 80% of the salary, up to a cap of £2,500 per month (plus some employer’s on costs), for staff who have been ‘furloughed’. Employees or workers are eligible to be furloughed if, because of the pandemic, they are not able to work:

  • because of their caring responsibilities, or
  • because there is not enough work for them, or 
  • because they cannot do any work remotely. 

Furloughed staff members remain employees of the University on the same terms and conditions, including the same pay and pensions arrangements, but carry out no work at all for the employer (or any organisations linked or associated with the employer) during the period of their furlough. During this time the employee can carry out training and volunteer (unpaid) for other organisations, but must not carry out any work for the University and should not carry out paid work for other employers during their normal working hours.

The University will seek to furlough all those staff who meet the criteria outlined below, in order to offset the financial impact of the current crisis.

The University will pay all furloughed employees 100% of their salary during the current period of furlough supported by the Government’s CJRS, which runs from 1 March to 30 June 2020 – the furloughed employee will suffer no financial detriment through being on furlough. There is no link between the furlough scheme and redundancy: being placed on furlough does not lead to redundancy and does not make an employee more likely to be made redundant.
 

A period of furlough lasts a minimum of 21 consecutive calendar days. The scheme runs for four months from 1 March  to 30 June 2020 and may be extended. The University will be reviewing the implementation of furlough at this point.  Claims for staff costs may be made retrospectively where a staff member has carried out no work, but generally not for any period prior to 17 March 2020, which is when the University asked all staff to work remotely. A retrospective claim will only apply where a member of staff has been on special paid leave or there has been a clear agreement that the individual has not been working for the minimum period.

The employment costs that can be reclaimed will be handled centrally and credited back to the department.

HMRC guidance on the scheme is regularly updated and so this guidance may be subject to change. Please ensure you refer to the latest version when implementing furlough.

For the Step-by step guide, FAQs and Resources follow the tabs at the top of the page

STEP-BY-STEP

HMRC guidance on the scheme is regularly updated and so this guidance may be subject to change. Please ensure you refer to the latest published version of this guidance when implementing furlough.

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Permanent and fixed-term employees who were on PAYE on 19 March 2020 (and included in the University’s RTI file transfer to HMRC on 21 February) are potentially eligible for furlough, whether they work full-time, part-time or variable hours, or are internally or externally-funded. Casual workers and temporary staff can be furloughed for the period for which we had committed to give them work. UK visa holders can be put on furlough.

Members of staff working in roles of any type can be furloughed. It is possible that academic staff may be furloughed if their caring responsibilities prevent them from carrying out work, but it is not expected that the nature of their work would result in them being furloughed, except in very rare cases eg if their research and teaching cannot be carried out except in a laboratory or studio. (Throughout this guidance, the role assigned to line managers will be undertaken by the head of department for academic staff.)

Internally-funded research and research support staff can be furloughed if they are unable to work because of caring responsibilities, or an absence of work, or an inability to work remotely, due to COVID-19, and if they cannot be redeployed.

The University is not at the present time considering furloughing externally-funded research and research support staff where the source of funding is from UK public funders (including UKRI Research Councils, Innovate UK, NIHR and UK government departmental funding. This will be kept under review should additional clarification from government or UK public funders be received.

Departments/Faculties considering furlough for staff supported by European Commission funding should see the sponsor update and/or contact the Research Services European & International Team (katie.price@admin.ox.ac.uk).

Furloughing should only be considered for externally-funded research and research support staff funded by sources other than UK public funders (typically charities, industry and overseas funders). In such cases, grant holders and departments should first obtain confirmation from the funder that:

  1. The funder is content that staff on the award may be furloughed; and
  2. The funder will allow that part of the salary costs not covered by the CJRS scheme (namely 20% of the salary costs and any amount of the salary cost over £2,500 pm and pensions costs over the 3% covered by the CJRS) to be charged as an eligible cost to the award;
  3. The existing value of the award would be preserved, meaning that the effect of recovering salary costs through the CJRS would enable the period of the award and employment of staff to be extended within the limits of funds available within the award.

In the event that the funder does not allow costs not covered by the CJRS scheme to be charged to the award as set out in (ii) above, then these costs will have to be met by departmental funds should the department proceed to furlough such staff. There are no plans to provide central University funding for this purpose.

Please read further information about furloughing externally funded research staff on the Research Services COVID-19 funding and project management website, where an additional guidance note can also be downloaded.

A member of staff is eligible to be furloughed if they were on the University’s PAYE payroll on 19 March 2020 and included in the University’s RTI file transfer to HMRC on 21 February and:

  1. They are unable to do any work because of the extent of their caring responsibilities linked to Covid-19 (eg they are the sole carer to infants or to children or adults with complex care needs who cannot access their normal care arrangements)

or

  1. They cannot carry out any work because there is currently no requirement for what they do, or it cannot be done remotely and they cannot be redeployed within the faculty/department (or, if there is a divisional process in place, in the division) to do other work

or

  1. They are a member of a team where there is a reduced requirement for the type of work carried out by that team, or only some of the team’s work can be done from home, and so the work could be carried out by fewer staff members. In this instance, some staff may be furloughed, some may continue to work and some may move between work and furlough, with each period of furlough lasting not less than 21 consecutive calendar days.

Departments should assess whether members of staff meet one of these criteria and so should be furloughed.  Individuals cannot choose to be furloughed, but they should tell their manager if they think they should be considered for furlough.

Where departments are considering furloughing a member of staff, they should discuss that with them (see below), providing information to reassure them that the furlough will have no impact on their job security, pay, or terms and conditions. Members of staff who are to be furloughed are asked to confirm in writing that they agree that they will not carry out any work for the University or for a linked or associated employer during their period of furlough. Staff may not be placed on furlough without this confirmation.

Heads of Department, working with Heads of Administration and Finance (HAF), HR managers or equivalents, will decide the level at which furlough decisions will be made, taking into account the size and structure of the department. It is expected that line managers, who best understand the work and the staff members’ situations, will be involved in talking to individuals and understanding their situations.  Advice for Heads of Department, HAFs and departmental HR staff on implementing the furlough scheme will be provided separately.

The University’s aim is to furlough all those staff who are eligible (ie they have no work, cannot do their work remotely or are unable to work because of COVID-19-related caring responsibilities), in order to maximise the saving to the department and the University.

Managers will have to balance off several competing factors when deciding which staff to furlough. They should apply the steps outlined below as fairly, objectively and consistently as possible, seeking support and advice from their HR contact where necessary.

There will be an initial two-stage process for selecting staff for furlough:

  1. Managers are asked to undertake Steps 1-3 below. Departmental HR staff should then indicate on CoreHR which staff are to be furloughed, aiming to complete this by Friday 15 May 2020.
  2. Managers are then asked to consider whether there are any teams with a reduced workload where some staff could be furloughed (perhaps on a rotating basis). Departmental HR staff should record on CoreHR the beginning and end dates of any periods of furlough (see Step 4 below) by Friday 22 May 2020.

It will be necessary to review furloughing decisions regularly to see whether staff members’ situations have changed or the work of the team has reduced or increased. It is recommended that this is done fortnightly, or whenever there are relevant changes, such as schools and/or childcare facilities reopening. Staff members can be removed from furlough with a minimum of 24 hours’ notice (although departments should give more notice where possible).

Any period of furlough must last a minimum of 21 consecutive days. It may be operationally necessary to ask staff to return to work after a shorter period, but in this event, no employment costs could be reclaimed under the CJRS.

 

First, consider whether the member of staff has caring responsibilities caused by COVID-19 that mean they cannot work at home. Those responsibilities might be for children, elderly relatives or other dependants who live with them.

The University wishes to continue to support all its staff in balancing their caring responsibilities and working life, recognising that the time available to work may be constrained for some staff in the current circumstances. The University aims to make all practical adjustments possible to allow staff to continue to work. It also recognises that in a small number of instances, it will not be possible to work and manage the caring responsibilities that arise as a result of COVID-19. Normally, these staff members will already be on special paid leave.

If caring commitments prevent the staff member from undertaking any work during their normal working hours or other hours of the day when someone might reasonably expect to work, they should be furloughed.

Although a member of staff might work different hours from their normal contracted hours, the hours they work must be appropriate for the type of work they do, and reasonable in the circumstances. For example, a staff member might split their day between childcare and work, sometimes working at unusual times: this person would not be furloughed. However, it would not be reasonable to expect someone to spend all day caring for dependants and to work every evening after they are in bed – this person is likely to be furloughed.

Line managers may already be aware of the situations of team members but should avoid making assumptions about their ability to work based on their caring responsibilities or any protected characteristic, such as sex, marital status, disability or any other factor. They should have a conversation with each team member to ensure they understand the type and extent of their commitments and how they are managing them. Those conversations should be confidential, although the line manager may need to consult their own manager, their HAF or HR contact in confidence if they are unsure what to do in response to any given circumstance.

Departments will need to exercise their discretion in assessing what is reasonable to ask of their team members in the circumstances. It will be relevant to consider:

  • the extent of the care that their dependants require;
  • the age of any children at home (a 14 year-old may not require full-time supervision, but a 2 year-old will); and,
  • whether there are other adults in the household, who are in a position to share caring responsibilities.

Decisions should be applied fairly and consistently across all members of the team and should be based on genuine constraints to working, bearing in mind that the furloughing of an individual may place additional workload pressures on other team members.

Action: If the staff member cannot reasonably do any work remotely due to caring responsibilities related to COVID-19, they should be furloughed (see ‘How to put a member of staff on furlough’ below). The further steps outlined here do not apply to that staff member.

 

Consider whether there is any work for the staff member to do and whether that work can be done remotely. If, as a result of COVID-19, there is no work for that individual to do, either their normal duties or other tasks within their team or section, that had already been identified as a priority, they should be redeployed (see Step 3 below) or furloughed.

Line managers should not assign new work or projects that had not already been identified as a priority for the team to keep members of staff off furlough.

If the staff member’s work cannot be done remotely (having considered adjustments to how the work is delivered or to the equipment available at home), and there is no other work within their team or section that had previously been planned or identified as a priority that they can do, the staff member should be redeployed (see Step 3 below) or furloughed.

Action: If the staff member cannot carry out their normal work remotely because of COVID-19, they should be redeployed (see Step 3 below) or furloughed.

 

It is a requirement that the University consider whether any member of staff who cannot carry out their normal duties because of the nature of the work can be redeployed before they are furloughed.

Departments are likely to have a system in place already to identify where additional support is needed because the work has increased due to COVID-19 or because of staff absences. Some divisions, such as UAS, are considering introducing redeployment arrangements at divisional level. If divisional redeployment processes are introduced, departments should check for suitable redeployment opportunities at a divisional level before furloughing staff. A ‘one-off’ check will be sufficient: there is no need to delay furloughing staff in case a redeployment need arises.

The nature and hours of the work that redeployed staff are asked to undertake should be reasonable in the circumstances, and any necessary and practicable training and support should be given. Changes to the nature and hours of work should be discussed and agreed with the individual, noting that the individual's pay and benefits will not be affected by such temporary redeployment.  It is hoped that all staff will work flexibly, on a temporary basis, to support the objectives of the University during this time of crisis. However, if any individual is unhappy with a proposed change of work or hours of work, please seek advice from your HR contact.

Any such redeployment will be temporary and kept under regular review. The individual’s line manager should stay in regular contact to check on their welfare and keep them up to date with developments in their own team.

Action: if the staff member can be redeployed within the department or the wider University, they should be redeployed. If redeployment is not possible, they should be furloughed. Departmental HR staff should record the dates of the furlough on CoreHR.

 

 

There may be situations where there is a reduced requirement for a type of work to be carried out within a team, such that some staff can be furloughed, while others continue to deliver the team’s work. This situation will require managers to balance different factors in deciding which staff should be furloughed and which should continue to work.

In this situation, please follow these principles, and consult your Head of Administration and Finance, HR contact or equivalent as necessary:

  1. Consider whether some members of the team have caring responsibilities that limit their ability to carry out their duties remotely. If those responsibilities mean that the staff member is able to carry out only a small proportion of their duties, or that they are coming under significant strain as a result of balancing work and domestic responsibilities, you may decide to furlough them. Such decisions should only be made in consultation with the individual concerned.
  2. Consider the skills needed to carry out the team’s work:
  • do some team members have broader experience and greater ability to complete all aspects of the work than others or have specialist knowledge or skills that need to be retained?
  • are some team members relatively new to the role or in more junior grades and so less suited to working independently?  It is important that decisions are made objectively and not based on any stereotyped assumptions.
  1. Talk to each of your team members, individually and privately, and find out their preferences. Some may prefer to be furloughed eg to assist them with caring responsibilities, whereas others may want to continue to work. Their preferences do not bind you, but can be taken into account in decision-making.

Remember:

  • not to make assumptions about someone’s caring responsibilities or preferences: ask them what work they can manage, without questioning their personal arrangements. Anything they tell you is confidential although you may need to consult an HR contact or senior manager in confidence if you are unsure what to do;
  • not to to base your decision on any of the characteristics protected under the Equality Act (https://edu.admin.ox.ac.uk/legal-framework#collapse1082001) – age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage or civil partnership, pregnancy or maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation –  (see ‘Equality Considerations’ below).  It is important to be mindful of the potential (unintentional) impacts on equality, for example if everyone being considered for furlough were to share a protected characteristic;
  • to reassure all team members that they will remain on the same pay and conditions while on furlough, and that furloughing decisions will be reviewed regularly;
  • to take into account the working hours of team members – you shouldn’t ask someone to work more than their normal working hours or at unreasonable times;
  • while it is in the University’s interests to furlough staff where possible, you should not overburden those who remain in work.

These considerations may allow you to achieve the required level of resource in the team, while meeting the needs and aspirations of the team’s members.

If, having taken caring responsibilities, the requirements of the work and personal preferences into account, more team members are available to work than are required, you should consider whether it would be operationally possible to operate a ‘shift’ system, such that some members of the team work for 21 consecutive calendar days and then take a period of furlough, and vice versa. Although this approach will require some coordination, e.g. to manage handovers, in many cases this will be the fairest approach. Employees can be furloughed multiple times, but each separate instance must be for a minimum period of 21 consecutive calendar days.

Action: have individual discussions with team members, and decide who will be furloughed, arranging to operate a rota basis where appropriate. Departmental HR staff should record beginning and end dates of periods of furlough on CoreHR.

 

 

Departments asked to complete Steps1-4 and update CoreHR as soon as the furlough period has been agreed with the individual

The University is committed to embedding equality and inclusion in all its activities and has considered the potential impacts on equality – both negative and positive – in the development of its furlough policy. Evidence of impact will be continually reviewed during the implementation period and the policy will be revised as necessary. There are factors that all managers should bear in mind when making decisions and supporting their staff through a period of furlough:

  • decisions on who to furlough should be made fairly and objectively and the criteria must avoid being directly or indirectly discriminatory. This means that equality considerations such as whether someone has one of the characteristics protected under the Equality Act (age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage or civil partnership, pregnancy or maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation) should not influence decisions.  Managers need to consider the potential negative and positive impacts on equality when choosing who to furlough. Are the selection criteria unbiased? Are there are unintended consequences? Will particular groups, for example,  women / young people / BME people / disabled people / foreign nationals be more likely to be furloughed? Are these decisions being based on objective criteria or is there an implicit bias against any equality group?
  • in the process of selecting staff for furlough, you should not treat differently from other staff those who are over 70, pregnant, have a disability, are in a high risk group or are ‘shielding’ for other reasons. Decisions should be based solely on the criteria set out in Steps 1-4 above. You should, however, take into account any request from a member of staff in one of these categories to be placed on furlough, e.g. if your team is conducting COVID-19 related research and the staff member wishes to remain at home for reason related to a disability and cannot carry out alternative work;
  • if a member of staff has a disability you should take all reasonable steps to put adjustments in place to enable them to carry out their work remotely. If it is not reasonable to make the adjustments necessary to enable them to work remotely, they should then be considered for redeployment and, only if that is not possible, placed on furlough. Read the advice on making adjustments or contact the Staff Disability Advisor
  • don’t make assumptions about someone’s caring responsibilities or ability to work based on their sex, marital status, disability or any other factor. Don’t assume that because someone has caring responsibilities they will not also be able to work
  • consider whether any of your staff may need additional support through the decision-making process, or when they are on furlough. Some staff may need more support to manage the uncertainty, change and isolation that many of us are experiencing at present . There are resources available to help with this

If a member of the team tells you about a personal circumstance and you are not sure whether you should take it into account, please consult your HR contact in confidence.

Having discussed the situation with individuals, please make sure that you tell each member of staff individually whether they will continue to work or to be furloughed.

For those who will not be furloughed, this may consist of a brief conversation.

You should reassure those members of staff who are to be furloughed that this decision will have no impact on their job security, pay, pension or other terms and conditions.

In most departments, this decision will be confirmed to the individual in writing by the local HR contact, rather than by line managers. Your department will confirm the process for this. Template letters for this purpose are provided in Resources. The individual is asked to return the template email confirming that they understand and agree to the conditions of furlough. Where the individual does not have access to email the letters should be sent by post. It is a requirement of the CJRS that:

  • the employer confirms in writing to the employee that they have been furloughed,
  • the employee responds confirming that they will carry out no work for the employer or for a linked or associated employer for the period of the furlough, and
  • these letters/emails are kept on file for five years.

If, after discussion and reassurance, a member of staff remains reluctant to be furloughed, discuss this with your local HR contact.

HR action: Please read the quick reference guide on the necessary CoreHR actions. Remember that if you are using a shift system for furlough, you must ensure that CoreHR is kept up to date with the start and finish dates of each period of furlough, and that every member of staff to be furloughed is kept up to date in writing.

 

The costs that can be reclaimed will be handled centrally and credited back to the department. More information on this will be provided to departmental finance contacts in due course.

HR action: If the member of staff to be furloughed is a Tier 2 or Tier 5 visa holder and their salary/ funding changes as a result of being put on furlough, submit a ‘Changes’ form to the Staff Immigration Team (SIT), as this will have to be reported to the Home Office. If their salary remains unchanged nothing should need to be reported.

 

Please stay in contact with your member of staff during their furlough period. As they will not be reading work emails, they may prefer to give you a personal email address or phone number for this purpose, although they are not obliged to do so. You should tell them about developments in the team, the department and the University, and encourage them to keep you up to date on their domestic situation, health and caring responsibilities.

Those who are on furlough can, if they wish:

  • attend (remote) team events as long as they are purely social;
  • access University welfare and development materials on line;
  • undertake training and development activity, provided on-line/remotely, whether by the University or other providers (provided that it is relevant to the job and agreed with the line manager before being undertaken); and,
  • volunteer for other organisations (provided the volunteer work does not provide services to or generate revenue for, or on behalf of, the University or a linked or associated organisation).

Those who are able and willing to do so are encouraged to undertake unpaid volunteering in the community.

Staff on furlough should not undertake any work at all for the University or for any linked or associated organisations and should not take other paid work during their normal working hours for the University. They should put on an appropriate ‘out of office’ message, since they will not be able to respond to emails during their period of furlough.

You should review furlough arrangements regularly, considering both individuals’ situations and the work requirements in the team. Staff can be asked to return to work with a minimum of 24 hours’ notice but if you ask a member of staff to return to work before they have completed a consecutive 21 calendar-day stint on furlough, the University will not be able to reclaim their costs from the government.

A template letter for the end of a furlough period is available.  Further templates are available from the Resources tab.

For the Summary, FAQs and Resources follow the tabs at the top of the page

FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions about the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Further information about the scheme has been set out below, grouped as FAQs for managers and for individual employees/workers.

FAQs FOR LINE MANAGERS / PIs

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Why would I want to furlough my team members, when this means I can’t give them any work to do?

It is in the best interests of the University's and the Faculty / Department's longer-term financial position to furlough individuals and to recoup a large proportion of their employment costs if they do not have work to do, or cannot work. This will also give certainty to individuals about our expectations and free up those who wish to volunteer to do so. You should not furlough individuals who can still do the work they are employed to do, or who can be redeployed within the Faculty / Department or division.

Is a member of staff eligible to be furloughed if they joined the department from elsewhere in the University in March 2020?

Yes, as long as they were on the University PAYE on 19 March 2020  and included in the University’s RTI file transfer to HMRC on 21 February.

Should I backdate the period of furlough?

When someone has been unable to work because of COVID-19 and has not carried out any work for the University, furlough can be backdated. Typically, this would only be used where someone has been on special paid leave. Furlough should not generally be backdated to before 17 March, when the University initiated remote working, unless special circumstances apply. If you think that special circumstances apply, please consult your HR contact. Even if someone has been on special paid leave, please ensure you send the required template letter, and ensure the employee returns the required email, to ensure HMRC requirements are satisfied.

Can visa holders be furloughed?

UK visa holders can be put on furlough, as reclaiming salary through the CJRS does not count as their having ‘recourse to public funds’.

Will being on furlough affect a visa or work permit?

No, being on furlough should not adversely affect visa holders. Any changes in salary/ funding for Tier 2 and Tier 5 visa holders will need to be reported to the Home Office. The Staff Immigration Team (SIT) understand from discussions with the Home Office that absences from the UK due to COVID-19 should not be counted against the limit on absences when visa holders apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in future, but the guidance has not been updated as yet.

Does the furlough guidance apply to colleges and subsidiaries?

This guidance applies to the University (including the departmental colleges – St Cross, Kellogg and Parks) but not to other colleges.

Subsidiary companies are developing their own guidance; some may decide to follow the University’s guidance.

What if I think I should furlough a member of my team and they disagree?

You should reassure the member of staff that their pay and conditions will remain unchanged and that this decision has no impact on their future job security. You could also talk to them about your plans to regularly review your decision. If they remain concerned, please consult your HR contact.

A member of staff cannot be furloughed unless they confirm in writing that they will not conduct any work for the University or for a linked or associated employer.

Is a college a linked employer?

For non-academic staff, a college will not be a linked or associated employer, unless the work carried out under one contract benefits the other employer. That means that staff who have a second contract with a college can be furloughed from University employment without being furloughed from the college and vice versa.

There may be exceptions for academic staff, since the government guidance states that working for another employer must not constitute ‘working indirectly’ for the University.  This might apply to research, which would benefit both the college and University if carried out by an academic with a joint appointment. We do not expect academic staff to be furloughed, except in a small number of cases, but please do seek further advice if you are considering furloughing someone with a joint appointment with a college.

A casual teaching contract with a college is unlikely to constitute ‘indirect working’ for the University and so should not prevent someone being furloughed from University employment.

Is the NHS a linked employer?

No, although care must be taken that work carried out for the NHS, whether as a volunteer or under a separate contract of employment, does not fall within the individual’s contractual duties for the University. It should not constitute ‘indirect working’ for the University. If it does, they cannot be furloughed.

Can I read the government guidance on the scheme?

Yes. It is being updated regularly. At the time of writing, the guidance can be found at the links below:

When does someone need to have joined the University to be eligible for furlough?

To be eligible for furlough, someone must have been on the University PAYE on 19 March 2020 and included in the University’s RTI file transfer to HMRC on 21 February 2020. This is because the HMRC guidance states that:

  • You can only claim for furloughed employees that were on your PAYE payroll on or before 19 March 2020.
  • An RTI submission notifying payment in respect of that employee to HMRC must have been made on or before 19 March 2020. 

The University’s most recent RTI submission before 19 March 2020 was on 21 February 2020. Therefore, anyone who was not included in that submission cannot be furloughed.

No one who joined the PAYE payroll in late February or March 2020 will have been included in this submission. Therefore, they cannot be furloughed. If you propose to furlough someone who joined the University in February, and before 21 February, please check with payroll whether they were included in the RTI submission.

Are variable hours employees eligible to be put on furlough?

Yes. Please refer to ‘Paying variable hours employees and casual workers on furlough’ below.  

Are employees on fixed-term contracts eligible for furlough?

Yes, for as long as their employment with us lasts – see below for further guidance on extending contracts.

Can we extend the contracts of fixed term staff who are furloughed?

To be consistent with the principles of the government scheme and to avoid significant unbudgeted costs, we cannot extend the fixed-term contracts and furlough those whose employment would have come to an end if the current crisis had not occurred. As the end of a fixed-term contract nears (ie the employee is in their 3-month notice period) the contract may be extended and the employee remain on furlough only if:

  • there is work for the individual to carry out should return to onsite working be agreed during the agreed extension and there is funding agreed to support the extension;

AND

  • for internally funded fixed-term employees  the employing department is confident that it would have extended their contract if the COVID-19 crisis had not occurred. If the costs are to be met from within departmental budgets the extension will be subject to recruitment protocol agreement and the relevant process must have been completed and authorisation granted before an extension is agreed;

OR

  • For externally funded fixed-term employees departments have obtained confirmation from the funder that:
  1. The funder is content that staff on the award may be furloughed;
  2. The funder will allow that part of the salary costs not covered by the CJRS  (namely 20% of the salary costs and any amount of the salary cost over £2,500pm) to be charged as an eligible cost to the award; and
  3. The existing value of the award would be preserved, meaning that the effect of recovering salary costs through the CJRS would enable the period of the award and employment of staff to be extended within the limits of funds available within the award.

We don’t have any departmental/external funds available to furlough an employee who is reaching the end of their fixed-term contract – can we still furlough them and just pay them at 80% of their usual salary, so that the costs are covered by the government’s CJRS?

The University has committed that it will pay staff at their normal rate of pay for the initial period of the CJRS/furlough scheme which run until 30 June.  It is not consistent with the University’s equal pay principles to pay staff differently and so staff furloughed through the initial period of the scheme must be paid at 100% of their normal pay.

Are casual and temporary staff (including TSS) eligible to be put on furlough?

Yes, casual and temporary workers can be furloughed for any period for which we had a commitment to provide them with work. We would not expect to extend commitments to casual or temporary workers where we do not have work for them to do.

Those on variable hours engagements will have their pay (and the amount to be recouped through the CJRS) calculated as specified for variable hours employees – see above.

Are contractors eligible to be put on furlough?

Self-employed contractors may be able to claim for themselves from the government’s scheme but the University cannot put them on furlough.

Contractors working through IR35 and paid through our payroll are eligible for furlough.

Are apprentices eligible to be put on furlough?

Yes. The government has arrangements in place to allow them to continue with the ‘off the job’ training element of their Apprenticeship while on furlough.

You should inform the apprentice’s Training Provider and the University Apprenticeships Team, using the form available on the University Apprenticeships webpage, so that an assessment can be made of whether the apprentice needs to take a temporary break in their learning or can continue.

If you have any questions about how furlough applies to apprentices and to access the form please consult information on the University Apprenticeships webpage.

Are those on doctoral training schemes, or other programmes with a work and study element, eligible for furlough?

It is unlikely that they will be eligible for furlough, since any study they undertook may be deemed to be too closely related and contributing to their work. Unless the lockdown prevents them from both studying and working, they should not be furloughed. If they cannot do either, seek further HR advice, and consider suspending their studies too.

Should we furlough staff who are ‘shielding’?

A member of staff who cannot attend work (regardless of whether their work is ‘essential work’ or not) because they have been instructed by their doctor, the NHS or other government advice to ‘shield’ and who cannot be redeployed to work that they can carry out from home, should be furloughed.

Are those who entered the University’s employment as a result of a TUPE transfer eligible for furlough? What if they joined recently?

Employees who transferred to the University’s employment under TUPE can be furloughed, even if the transfer occurred after 19 March 2020 (i.e. even if the employees were not on the University’s payroll on or before that date).

Can staff be furloughed while on family leave ?

No one can be furloughed on the grounds that they are on family leave.

Someone can be furloughed while in receipt of contractual maternity pay (or its equivalent for other types of family leave) if:

  • they meet the criteria ie they have agreed to do no work for the period of their furlough,
  • it lasts 21 consecutive calendar days or more, and
  • they are unable to do the work they would be doing if not on family leave because of reasons related to COVID-19 (ie due to COVID-19-related caring responsibilities or the nature of their work)

It is unlikely that someone would be furloughed while on family leave unless others in their team or doing similar jobs were also being furloughed.

Someone cannot be furloughed while in receipt of statutory maternity, paternity, shared parental  or adoption pay only or while on unpaid family leave of any type.

Can someone be furloughed while on sick leave?

The University will not seek to place on furlough a member of staff who is already on sick leave. When someone returns from sick leave, they can be furloughed if they meet the criteria.

Can someone be furloughed for part of their role?

No. An individual can only be furloughed if they are not carrying out any work for the University. Even if they can only work for a proportion of their time, or only undertake some of their duties remotely, if they are conducting work, they cannot be furloughed.

Can someone be furloughed if they have occasional work to do?

Yes, as long as they will have a period of 21 consecutive calendar days between the occasions on which they need to work. This might fit for someone who has a residual task to do that takes place monthly.

How do we handle someone with more than one role for the University?

A member of staff cannot be furloughed if they will conduct any work for the University or a linked or associated employer, even if this is under a separate contract of employment. Therefore, a member of staff with two contracts can only be furloughed if they will not conduct any work under either contract ie they will be furloughed from both. The costs that can be re-couped are limited to £2,500 for the employee (ie not £2,500 per role).

If you are unsure whether a member of staff has another role with the University, please ask them, and liaise with the other department to ensure that the employee is furloughed from both/all contracts or none. The primary employing department (ie the one where the employee works most hours) will be prioritised in receiving the recouped costs.

Can I furlough someone who is working their notice?

Yes.

Information about the CJRS and research staff, including research support staff,  is available in the Resources tab.

To read  COVID-19 funding and project management guidance see the Research Services website.

 

How do we get the employee’s agreement to be furloughed in writing if they don’t have email access at home?

You can call them and/or write to them by post and ask them to reply by post, or by text message, using the text provided (see Resources). If the latter, keep a screenshot on file.

What out of office message should someone going on furlough use?

That is up to them. They do not have to refer to being on furlough if they prefer not to; they can just say that they are unavailable. They should state that they will not be able to reply to work emails and give an alternative contact. For example:

Thank you for contacting me. I will be  out of the office until [date / further notice] and will be unable to read or respond to emails. Please contact [details] in my absence.

Should we make any changes to someone’s University card status, buildings access or SSO while they are on furlough?

No, those on furlough retain all rights and privileges even though they cannot do any work for the University or linked or associated organisations.

Does annual leave continue to accrue while on furlough?

Yes.

What if someone has leave booked during the furlough period?

They should still take the leave as planned. It is understood that staff may not wish to book leave during a period of furlough but if they have commitments that would render them unavailable for work during the period of furlough (not including unavailability as a result of sickness or caring responsibilities), they should book that period as leave.

A period of leave will not ‘break’ the period of furlough.

The normal leave carry over rules apply whether or not employees are on furlough.

What if someone is nearing the end of their probation while on furlough?

If the employee was very close to the end of their probation and were clearly going to be confirmed in post, you can confirm them in post in the normal way.

Otherwise, you should write to them and let them know that, given the unique circumstances, their probation will be extended by the period of their furlough as a supportive measure to enable them to demonstrate that they should be confirmed in post on return.

What if someone is nearing the end of their fixed-term contract while on furlough?

The end of fixed-term contract procedures should be followed as normal with any meetings held remotely. The usual support eg in redeployment, should be offered. These meetings do not count as work for the purposes of the furlough scheme. See the FAQs on Eligibility (above) for further guidance on contract extensions during periods of furlough.

What if someone becomes sick while on furlough?

Those who are furloughed who become sick should let you know as normal, so that they can be supported as necessary, but do not move them to sick leave, as this would break the period of furlough. If the period of furlough ends while they are still sick, they move to sickness absence. As normal, they can self-certify for one week, and should then get a Fit Note (please check with your local HR contact as special arrangements may apply during the pandemic and it is recognised that it may be harder to obtain a Fit Note).

What if someone wants to work for the NHS while on furlough?

Anyone can volunteer while on furlough, for the NHS or other organisations.

If staff want to take paid employment with the NHS while on furlough, they should talk to their department about arranging a temporary reduction in FTE or a period of unpaid leave to allow them to do so. Any residual hours on their University contract can be furloughed, as long as the work the member of staff is doing for the NHS could not be described as ‘indirect work’ for the University. If the staff member takes unpaid leave, they must be removed from furlough. If they have not had a period of furlough of 21 consecutive calendar days, no claim can be made from the CJRS.

What happens if the work of the team increases and staff are on furlough?

You can ask someone to return to work with a minimum of 24 hours’ notice (although you should give them more notice than that if operationally possible). You should remember that if they have not been on furlough for a minimum of 21 consecutive calendar days, the University will then be unable to claim their costs.

What if schools or care facilities reopen?

Managers should review furloughing arrangements with their staff members regularly and whenever there is a significant change in the situation. If staff members become available for work again, and there is work that they can do remotely, you should arrange that they return to work, making sure they have at least 24 hours’ notice (and longer, wherever possible).

If we are using a shift basis to manage team members working and going on furlough, can the shift / rota be worked on the basis of more than 21 consecutive calendar days?

There may be exceptional circumstances in which this is appropriate, but 21 consecutive calendar days is likely to be the best period to use, because we want to maximize the chances of being fair to all those on the shift / rota system, and we do not know how long the current constraints will last. You may need to factor in a day or handover between team members in between the periods of furlough.  There is no minimum period for the time spent working between periods of furlough: it can be only one day.

Can we progress disciplinary or grievance cases for staff who are furloughed?

In many cases, yes, although a case-by-case consideration is needed. There is more guidance for HR staff in the Sharepoint FAQ document, and the department’s HR Business Partner can advise.

Can we require staff to be redeployed?

We hope that staff will work flexibly during this period and be prepared to undertake other duties on a temporary basis, sometimes in other departments or at other grades, when needed. The extent to which staff can be required to undertake other duties depends on the extent to which those duties fall within the employee’s contractual job title and job description.  Factors to take into account will include the extent to which the duties are commensurate with their grade, and whether their job title and job description are sufficiently generic to encompass the duties they are being asked to take on. Any support or training required should be given. Please discuss any concerns with your HR contact, prior to confirming a decision.

Staff cannot elect to be furloughed if suitable redeployment is available.

What if a redeployment need arises that someone on furlough could fill?

If, after an individual is furloughed, a redeployment need arises at departmental or divisional level that the furloughed employee could fill, the employing department should discuss it with the individual and seek to redeploy them. This will mean ending the furlough period early, with notice (a minimum of 24 hours), and may mean that a claim for employment costs through the CJRS cannot be made, if the furlough period has lasted less than 21 consecutive calendar days.

What if someone wants to be redeployed rather than furloughed?

Departments should check whether there is any need for redeployed resources internally within the department, and, in those divisions where there is a division-wide process for sharing resources, whether there are any suitable redeployment opportunities across the division, before furloughing members of staff.

Are there templates for redeploying people?

Not at present. We would suggest writing to them to confirm the dates of this redeployment, that their pay and benefits will not change, and who they are responsible to. They should be told who to speak to about any questions or concerns, and how you will keep in touch with them

What should we pay variable hours employees and casual workers while they are on furlough?

The University will honour the commitments it has already made to variable hours and casual workers whilst they are on furlough. 

Where a furloughed casual worker or variable hours employee has been employed for twelve months or more, they will be paid the higher of the following three calculations:

  • same month’s earnings from the previous year; or
  • average monthly earnings for the 2019-2020 tax year; or 
  • earnings they would have received under any prior commitment from the University e.g. an existing agreed rota, an agreement for special paid leave made before the government guidance was issued.
  • There is no discretion to pay on a different basis

(NB In accordance with government guidance, the University will claim 80% of the average of the same month's earnings from the previous year or the average monthly earnings for the 2019-2020 tax year, whichever is the higher. This will not affect what we pay our variable hours and casual staff.)

If variable hours and casual staff have been employed for less than twelve months, they will be paid an average of their monthly earnings from their start date until the date they are furloughed, unless there is a prior commitment (see above) that would result in them receiving higher pay.

Note that when calculating the pay entitlement for furloughed casual and variable hours staff, only pay received under these two employment types will be considered. Any earnings received under a previous fixed hours contract within the calculation period will not be included.

How do I ensure that furloughed casual workers and variable hours employees receive the correct pay?

All pay calculations for casual workers and variable hours employees will be undertaken centrally using a combination of pay history data and supplementary information provided by departments. 

Departments must undertake the following steps:

  1. Update the worker/employee’s appointment in CoreHR to show furlough start and end date (where this is known for certain) following the guidance provided.
  1. Complete the Furlough Payment Spreadsheet  with details of all furloughed casuals and variable hours staff that need paying. Full guidance is provided in Tab 2 of the spreadsheet.
  1. Email the completed spreadsheet to: tax@admin.ox.ac.uk. The spreadsheet should be password protected in accordance with the arrangements for the regular casual payment submission. The deadline for submission will be communicated to departments via the weekly cascades.

These steps will be undertaken by the local HR contact, not by line managers.

FAQs FOR EMPLOYEES AND WORKERS WHO ARE FURLOUGHED

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If you have a work email account, you should add an out-of-office reply stating that you are currently on leave. Provide an alternative contact for any urgent queries.

Whilst you should not do any work through a work email account, the University and your department may send updates about the COVID-19 situation, social events, furlough leave or your return to work using this email address, so please monitor the email daily for this type of correspondence. If you would prefer to receive such correspondence via a personal email address, please let your manager know, and this can be arranged.  You must not read or respond to any other work-related emails during the period of furlough.

Yes, and this is encouraged by the University provided it does not provide services to or generate revenue for, or on behalf of, the University or a linked or associated organisation.

If you are performing emergency volunteer work in health or social care through the national NHS programme and are given a notice of a volunteering period of 2-4 weeks, please notify your manager, so that they can plan for you to continue this volunteering even if the furlough period is otherwise ended.

Other options for volunteering are available through Oxford Together or a range of local and national charities.

Yes, and we would encourage colleagues to stay in contact, but this should be social contact only: you must not perform any substantive work. You can still use the University’s MS Teams to do this and it might mean that your normal team schedules (or continues) a regular MS Teams social catch up ‘meeting’ to keep in touch with the whole team, or your manager schedules in a regular time in the week to make contact with you. You should only use this for a social catch up.

Yes, you are encouraged to carry out any relevant online training whilst you are on furlough leave, provided that the training is directly relevant to your employment and is agreed in writing with your manager before being undertaken.

Access to a wide range of online training sessions is available from Molly and there may be further resources available within your Department.  You might also want to explore the resources the University has put together for staff during the pandemic.

Will annual continue to accrue during the period of furlough?  I have booked annual leave coming up, is that cancelled during furlough? Do I need to book annual leave if I need the time off?

Annual leave will continue to accrue during the furlough period.

You should take any pre-booked annual leave as planned.  If you have commitments that would render you unavailable for work during the period of furlough, you should book that period as leave. This will not ‘break’ the period of furlough.

The University’s annual leave carry over rules apply, whether or not you are on furlough.

If you are furloughed whilst on the full pay portion of your leave you will continue to receive the existing rate of pay under the University’s family leave policies, if you are eligible.  If you continue your leave into a period of statutory pay or unpaid leave your furlough will end.

When your period of family leave ends, if appropriate you may be furloughed again and at that point you will revert to your normal pay but you will remain on furlough and not performing any work until the period of furlough is ended.

Employees can request to end maternity, adoption or shared parental leave early in the normal way (with 8 weeks’ notice normally required), but employees should not request to end their family leave (ie to return to work) unless they are ready to return to work at any time, as the furlough period could be ended at short notice.

If you have been employed for 12 months or more, you will be paid the highest of the following three calculations:

  • same month’s earnings from the previous year; or
  • average monthly earnings for the 2019-2020 tax year; or 
  • earnings they would have received under any prior commitment, e.g. existing rota, agreement for special paid leave made before the government guidance was issued, or other exceptional reason.

If you have been employed for less than 12 months, you will be paid your average monthly earnings since you started work for the University until the date you are furloughed.

Note that your pay calculation will be based on pay received under your variable hours contract (and any casual work where applicable). Any earnings received under a previous fixed hours contract within the calculation period will not be included.

Workers who are engaged with flexible hours, and who are only entitled to receive pay for hours they are assigned and work, have been offered continuing normal pay on a discretionary basis using the same calculation as for variable hours employees (see FAQ above) through to the end of their assignment. This same calculation will continue during furlough leave, but will still end at the end date of your assignment.

Unless your contract is renewed or you are redeployed, your employment will still end on the end date of your fixed-term contract. The University is working with grant funding bodies to agree the circumstances in which any funding that is recouped through the furlough scheme might be used to fund short contract extensions in some cases. This is dependent upon a range of factors including the availability of work, and the possibility of extending research projects and would be discussed with you as part of the end of fixed-term contract process.

Read more about the University’s efforts to support fixed term contract staff, including by negotiating with grant funding bodies on the Research Services website.

The University has committed to paying all furloughed staff at 100% of their usual rate of pay and it would not be consistent with equal pay principles to treat one group of staff differently.  Also, the CJRS funds are capped at £2,500 per month and only cover 3% of employer pension costs so in most circumstances the costs of furloughing an employee are significant, despite the government funding.

Download a Word version of the FAQs for those who are furloughed

 

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