Furlough for Carers.

On 5th January 2021, the government updated the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) to allow employees with caring responsibilities arising from covid-19 to be furloughed.

Who can be furloughed?

This extension now applies to any employees who because of caring responsibilities arising from covid-19, are:

  • Unable to work (including working from home),
  • Or are working reduced hours

 These caring responsibilities cover caring for:

  • Children who are at home as a result of school or childcare facilities closing
  • A vulnerable individual in their household

When is furlough appropriate for carers?

The government have resisted calls to provide a legal and enforceable right for parents to request paid, flexible furlough, instead leaving it to the employer’s discretion.

Employers are advised to consider genuine requests for furlough where it is clear that a carer’s ability to work effectively is being diminished. Thanks to the flexible furlough scheme, employees may work part time, and furlough can be claimed for the time they are not working. 

It is unclear if an employer has to show economic downturn in order to furlough carers. It is likely that it is the government’s intention for this right to apply regardless of whether the business has been ‘adversely affected’ by covid-19. The Prime Minister said that “If people don’t have access to childcare and they have a child who isn’t back in school then I think that’s only fair to regard that as an obvious barrier to their ability to go back to work and I am sure employers will agree with that”. This seems to support this intention. In addition to this, Baroness Penn asserted on 18 January 2021, that an employee will be eligible if they are unable to work due to caring responsibilities.

However any furloughing under this category should be carefully considered, and any concerns should be addressed with legal advice. Employers are encouraged to gather evidence of the employees inability to work, as well as any supporting relevant evidence such as of school closures.

Please contact our employment law team for more information about furlough or tailored advice about your situation as an employer or employee.

The contents of this article are intended as guidance for readers. It can be no substitute for specific advice. Consequently we cannot accept responsibility for this information, errors or matters affected by subsequent changes in the law, or the content of any website referred to in this article. © Mundays LLP.

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