Furlough Leave FAQs (Updated 25 June 2020)

We have answered below the main questions which employees who have been considered for furlough may ask. If you have a question which isn’t listed here, please email JRSHR Mailbox: JRSHR@exeter.ac.uk.

Furlough leave is a temporary scheme introduced by the Government on 1st March 2020 which enables employers to furlough their eligible workers and apply for a grant that covers part of furloughed workers’ salaries.    The government has made a number of changes to the scheme, with the most recent changes announced on 12th June 2020, and these will apply from 1st July to 31st October 2020 when the scheme will cease.  The University has therefore reviewed it’s arrangements in accordance with changes provided by HMRC and within the Treasury Direction.

As of 10 June, the Scheme is no longer available to be used for any employees who were not furloughed before 10 June, with the exception of employees returning from maternity, shared parental, adoption, paternity or parental bereavement leave up to 31st October 20). 

Staff who have been placed on furlough leave should be receiving regular communications about these arrangements from their line management.  If you have any queries that cannot be answered by these FAQ’s, you should contact you line manager in the first instance.

Furlough leave applies where there is either no need or a reduced need for work of a particular kind to be carried out as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and where ordinarily the University may have had to consider redundancies.

Some roles are still essential during this period due to the need to maintain teaching and assessment provision for our students, to continue to care for those students who remain on campus, to maintain security and to support our IT infrastructure to identify a few, and these key roles are unlikely to be eligible for furlough leave. 

It is a requirement of the Government scheme that you must also have been on the University’s payroll on or before 19 March 2020. You should be aware however that your payroll date may not be the same as the date upon which you started working for the University. If you started working at the University on or after 21st February 2020, your first salary payment would have been made on the 30th March, which was the payday for that month. Therefore under the scheme you would not be eligible for furlough leave as your first pay date was later than the 19th March.

Staff in the academic job families:

Roles in the Education and Research and Education and Scholarship job families are unlikely to be eligible for furlough due to the need for these roles to continue through the summer term as we seek to maintain current provision for our students.

It is only possible to furlough Research staff where their salaries do not receive direct public funding.   Following an analysis of funding arrangements and guidance relating to the use of the furlough scheme for research staff, some research staff have been furloughed where the guidance permits, including extending contracts of staff which would otherwise have bene extended but for the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Professional Services:

For some roles in Professional Services there may be a reduction in the need for their normal day-to-day duties, which could either result in no work being available, or for fewer people being needed to carry out the work.  Through Refocusing our Resources, our first priority will be to reallocate their time where possible to other essential activities either within their own directorate or across the University, and we thank all colleagues who have entered their details on the online form to register their skills, interests and availability. If you have not yet completed the form then we would encourage you to speak to your line manager and complete this as soon as possible. In registering your skills we ask that you consider your broader skill set, for example skills and experience from previous roles and employment. See online form.  This may also provide you with an opportunity to experience other areas of the University and develop your skills.

However, there are a number of operational roles which are either not required, which cannot be carried out from home or where there is a reduced need for the duties to be carried out.  Where these circumstances apply then (after considering of Refocusing our Resources) these staff will be eligible for furlough.

Casual Workers

Those of our staff who have flexible working arrangements through casual claims or the temporary staff bank may continue to be eligible for furlough, provided they were on the University’s payroll on 19 March 2020 (see above regarding payroll dates) and have been previously on furlough leave between 17th March 20 to 30th June 20.  

The University will continue to consider staff  for furlough leave where planned work has already been assigned or would have been assigned where there is a known business need, but this work is disrupted by the pandemic (unless the work related restrictions associated with public funding).   Consideration will first be given to whether these workers can be reassigned before confirming furlough leave arrangements.

Postgraduate Teaching Assistants and Occasional Teachers

Occasional Teachers and Postgraduate Teaching Assistants will be asked to continue to deliver their scheduled activities or alternative education-related activity through e-learning and will not be eligible for furlough leave. 

Apprentices

Apprentices can be eligible for furlough leave as set out above, and can continue to train whilst on furlough leave.

New Employees/Workers

Unfortunately those individuals who started working for the University on or after 21 February 2020 (or who have been offered work but have not yet started) will not be eligible. This is due to the requirement that workers were on the payroll on 19 March 2020 (see above). 

Foreign Nationals

Workers on all categories of visa can be furloughed if their role is eligible

Employees/Workers who are shielding

Those individuals who have been contacted by the NHS and asked to stay at home (i.e. those individuals considered to be at extremely high risk of severe illness with COVID-19) and are shielding but otherwise well, and members of their household who are required to stringently follow social distancing measures and reduce contact outside the home, may be eligible for furlough leave if they are unable to carry out work from home. You will be asked to notify HR in confidence if this applies to you and may be asked to provide a copy of the letter from the NHS. Please contact JRSHR@exeter.ac.uk

If you are sick you should continue to report in accordance with the normal sickness reporting procedures.

This will continue until the government changes the guidance relating to people who are shielding.

Employees on unpaid sabbatical or other unpaid leave

Employees already on unpaid sabbatical or any other unpaid leave on 28 February 2020 were not eligible for furlough leave until the end of the agreed period of leave. Where unpaid sabbatical or other unpaid leave had been agreed, and commenced on or after 19 March 2020, then that employee will not be eligible for furlough leave.  Employees can no longer be furloughed if they had not previously been furloughed at 10 June 20.

There is no right to be furloughed, and the University has made decisions based on the role you carry out, the funding arrangements associated with your role and the criteria below.  The University is not permitted to furlough staff where their salaries can be directly linked to public funding. Some roles remain essential and staff in these roles will not be eligible for furlough leave.

As of 10 June, the Scheme is no longer available to employers who have not already used it, or to any employees who were not furloughed before 10 June, with the exception of employees returning from maternity, shared parental, adoption, paternity or parental bereavement leave up to 31st October 20).  Please note that employees will revert back to normal working arrangements as soon as the furlough period ceases.

Where there is no work available

Where there is no work available, and/or the work cannot be carried out from home and therefore no current requirement for a role, consideration will first be given to Refocussing our Resources (see above). Where this is not possible then you will be selected for furlough leave.

 

Reduced need for workers

Where there is a reduced need for certain duties (for example where there are currently 6 FTE equivalent administrators in a team, but only three FTE equivalent are needed to carry out remaining work) then we will first consider Refocussing our Resources (see above). Where we are unable to refocus resources to other suitable roles then options that will be considered by managers include:

  1. seeking volunteers for furlough leave;
  2. whether it is feasible to rotate furlough leave between employees;
  3. whether it is possible to use the flexible furlough arrangements introduced from 1 July 20 (see below) or,
  4. selection by other appropriate criteria, for example skills and experience for the role, shielding where the worker is unable to carry out their work from home (see above), or those with carer responsibilities (for children, elderly relatives and/or other vulnerable family members); however the fact a worker may have carer responsibilities will not automatically entitle them to furlough leave. 

In every case the University will use appropriate non-discriminatory criteria and comply with its obligations under the Equality Act 2010

Flexible Furlough

From 1 July, employers can bring furloughed employees back to work for any amount of time and any shift pattern, while still being able to claim CJRS grant for the hours not worked.  Note: The University has agreed that given the complexity in managing and administering flexible furlough return to work is restricted to an employee’s normal full-day/full-shift patterns i.e. if an employee would normally have worked 7.3 hours, then they are either furloughed for the full 7.3 hours or they are working, these hours cannot be split between furlough and working hours. Other than this restriction, the need for a minimum period on furlough leave when rotating staff no longer applies.

As of 10 June, the Scheme is no longer available to employers who have not already used it, or to any employees who were not furloughed before 10 June, with the exception of employees returning from maternity, shared parental, adoption, paternity or parental bereavement leave up to 31st October 20).  Please note that employees will revert back to normal working arrangements as soon as the furlough period ceases.

Although all HEs, including the University of Exeter, are severely impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is anticipated that by taking advantage of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) for those areas of the University which are most severely affected, we will be in a strong position once the current restrictions imposed by the Government are lifted. Redundancies are not being proposed at this stage and we hope that this will not become necessary; however this will depend on a number of factors, including the impact the COVID -19 pandemic has on the future demand for services, the University’s income, our ability to take advantage of the government funds currently available, and/or whether the current restrictions on movement are extended or potentially severer restrictions imposed. We will continue to closely monitor the situation and should the position change we will comply with our obligations to inform and consult. 

If you are placed on furlough leave this will not impact the selection for redundancy should redundancies become necessary in future. In those circumstances, the University’s redundancy procedure would apply equally to those employees who continued to work and those that were furloughed, with fair and non-discriminatory selection criteria being applied.

However, if your role is coming to an end for reasons unrelated to the COVID-19 pandemic, then the University’s normal procedures will apply, for example where this is due the end of a fixed term contract, then procedure for non-renewal of a fixed term contract will apply.

We would prefer to reach agreement by consent with you within the framework we have agreed with the trade unions; however where this is not achieved we will consult with the three recognised trade unions as far as it is reasonably practicable to do so given the timeframe within which furlough leave is currently available.

If agreement is not reached and you do not agree to take furlough leave, and there is no work available either in your current role or through refocussing our resources, then we may have no alternative but to consider whether to put you on unpaid leave or make redundancies.

As of 10 June, the Scheme is no longer available to employers who have not already used it, or to any employees who were not furloughed before 10 June, with the exception of employees returning from maternity, shared parental, adoption, paternity or parental bereavement leave up to 31st October 20). 

We are also unable to backdate any furlough leave. Furlough leave arrangements at the University have applied since 17th March 2020 and staff have been contacted directly with regards to dates and times that furlough leave will apply. 

Staff who have been placed on furlough leave should be receiving regular communications about these arrangements from their line management.  If you have any queries that cannot be answered by the FAQ’s, you should contact you line manager in the first instance.

The CJRS is been made available between 1 March 2020 and 31 October 2020.  The scheme will no longer be available after this date.  Your manager will be regularly reviewing your furlough arrangement and will be in touch with you.  The changes to the scheme announced on 12th June 20, may mean that your line manager can consider options that were not available previously. These include:

  • No minimum period for furlough leave.  Initially there was a minimum period for furlough leave of three weeks, and staff had to be furloughed in all positions they were contracted to if furlough leave was applied.  However, this has now changed and there is no minimum period.  Your manager can now consider you for the flexible furlough arrangements below.
    • Flexible Furlough - Flexible furlough arrangements will enable staff who have already been furloughed to be considered for flexible furlough. Workers can therefore be furloughed for part of their contractual/assigned hours and work some of them.  Flexible furlough is restricted to an employee’s normal full-day/full-shift hours.
    • More than one contract - Where people have more than one contract, they will no longer have to be on furlough leave for all roles.  It will be possible for them to come back part-time in one or both roles, or remain on furlough leave in one role and come back full or part-time in another role.  Note: They cannot work in another role for the periods they would have been contracted or assigned in another role but have been placed on furlough leave. 

Furlough leave can also be terminated in the following circumstances:

  • where you or the University cease to be eligible for funding;
  •  the university giving you notice that you are required to resume your work. This will normally be one week’s notice unless there is a sudden and urgent requirement for you to return to work earlier; or
  • if your employment is terminated for any reason.

During the period 1 March to 31st October 2020 employees on furlough leave will continue to receive their normal pay and other contractual benefits; however certain allowances such as on call/standby allowance will not be payable. Overtime is also excluded.

Flexible workers with pre-agreed assignments

If you are a member of our bank staff (casual claims or TSB) and had already committed to an assignment during the period 1 March to 31 October 2020 (and this has been confirmed by your manager) then the University will first seek to reassign you.  Where this is not possible then you will be paid the amount which would have been payable for that assignment only (but no extension to the original timeframe for the assignment will be agreed).

All hours notified to HR by your manager for pre-assigned work will be input centrally within HR and you will not have to submit claims whilst on furlough leave.

Flexible workers with no pre-agreed assignment

If you have not had an assignment booked or confirmed, but nonetheless it can be shown that you would have worked in the period between 1 March and 31 October 2020 but for the impact of the pandemic (see ‘casual workers’ above), and you have previously been furloughed between 17th March 20 and 10th June 20, then we are asking managers to identify what work would have been assigned in order to calculate the amount due. If you have any questions or concerns around this then you should contact JRSHR@exeter.ac.uk

All hours notified to HR will be input centrally within HR and workers will not have to submit claims whilst on furlough leave.  This includes for any hours you may work under the new flexible furlough arrangements that your manager may wish to consider. 

Tax, National Insurance contributions and any other statutory deductions will be deducted in the usual way. Where Employer pension contributions are made as normal then employee pension contributions will also be deducted as normal.

The University will continue to pay employer pension contributions to your pension savings and your employee contributions will continue as normal (subject to the terms of the pension scheme). Members of the ERSS Pension Scheme may, if they wish to do so, reduce their band by completing an ERSS contribution choice form, see our website for more information.                          

 

The normal provisions for our temporary workers under the NEST Pension Scheme will apply.

Employees who have been furloughed and report sickness are paid their normal salary and benefits during furlough leave.  When they return to work normal sickness provisions apply.

Employees must report sickness in the same manner whether they are on sick leave or furlough leave.

If you are on, or due to go on, family leave then you will retain your right to do so and you can still be eligible for furlough leave both prior to and during your family leave period and receive the payments you would receive under the relevant policy for parents and carers (subject to the compulsory maternity period - see below).

Furlough leave will not however affect the two-week compulsory maternity period and therefore you cannot be furloughed during this period.

It is anticipated that employees will take at least six months maternity leave given that full pay is paid during this period.  Where you have elected to take less than your full maternity leave entitlement of 12 months, or if you have given notice to return early from maternity leave, then you may, subject to agreement go on furlough leave if you are otherwise eligible. You should be aware that CJRS will cease on 31st October 20. If you have elected to take less than your full maternity leave entitlement, or have given notice to return early, and you are furloughed, then you will be required to return to work at the end of the furlough period and you will not be able to change your mind and return later under the maternity leave provisions. You may however be eligible for another form of parental leave or annual leave.

Please also refer to flexible furlough arrangements which will apply until 31st October 20, which your manager can utilise if they require you to work some, but not all of your contracted hours. 

If you are furloughed then ten percent of your furlough leave period will be designated as paid annual leave from their 2020 annual leave allowance. This equates to half a day (3.65 hours) for a full time employee working five days a week.   For example if you are a full-time worker furloughed for three weeks you would take 1.5 days leave during this period.

 You can continue to book annual leave during furlough leave in the normal way, and this will be deducted from your allowance in addition to the adjustments for furlough leave.

Adjustments to annual leave are being administered centrally by HR within Trent, and adjustments for any furlough leave period between 17th March and 30th June 2020, will be made to annual leave records in August 20.  Any queries should be referred to humanresources@exeter.ac.uk.

If you are on furlough leave then you cannot carry out work for the University and should not attend your workplace.

The changes to the scheme announced on 12th June 20 , mean that if you have more than one contract and have been on furlough leave in all roles, you no longer have to be on furlough leave for all or your roles at the University.  Subject to your manager/s confirming that you are required to work, It will be possible for you to come back part-time in one or both roles, or remain on furlough leave in one role and come back full or part-time in another role.  Note: You cannot work in another role for the periods you are contracted or assigned in another role but have been placed on furlough leave. 

This also applies if you have flexible working arrangements and carry out different roles/assignments via eClaims. For example, if you undertake assignments in Student Services assisting with administration and also do work for Campus Services in catering, then if there is no temporary work available in catering, you may still be able to work in Student Services. 

During the period 1 March to 31 October  2020 employees on furlough leave will continue to receive their normal pay and other contractual benefits (excluding certain allowances – see above).

Continuity of service is unaffected.

If you work part time and already have additional employment then this can continue. If you have more flexible working arrangements as a casual worker then you may also continue to undertake additional employment.

Otherwise you must not carry out any paid work for another employer whilst employed by the University of Exeter and on Furlough Leave and in receipt of full pay without first obtaining prior written consent to do so. Please contact JRSHR@exeter.ac.uk if you have any queries prior to agreeing to other paid work.

The University will comply with the new right for workers to take emergency volunteering leave (EVL) to help support essential health and social services. You must be in receipt of an “emergency volunteering certificate” (“EVC”) from a relevant health or social care authority such as a Local Authority, the NHS Commissioning Board or the Department of Health and should give the University at least 3 working days advance written notice of EVL and provide a copy of your EVC.

The right is to unpaid EVL, however the University agrees to pay your normal salary during your EVL period. You must not profit from EVL and therefore where the University continues full pay your salary in full, you should not claim compensation from the compensation fund for loss of earnings (this applies to loss of earnings only and not to travel or subsistence).

In line with the University’s commitment to supporting our local community, you are encouraged to carry out volunteer work if you wish to do so.

If you are on furlough leave you cannot however do any volunteering for the University.

Yes, you can be asked to complete training, for example online training, including mandatory training and updates whilst on furlough leave. You can also use this as an opportunity to develop your skills by undertaking some of the optional online training opportunities such as IT training on Excel or PowerPoint.

As of 10 June, the Scheme is no longer available to employers who have not already used it, or to any employees who were not furloughed before 10 June, with the exception of employees returning from maternity, shared parental, adoption, paternity or parental bereavement leave up to 31st October 20). 

You should discuss with your line manager whether furlough leave will be applicable to you when you return to work, if you are unable to work due the pandemic. This will include whether flexible furlough may be required.

 From 1 July, employers can bring furloughed employees back to work for any amount of time and any shift pattern, while still being able to claim CJRS grant for the hours not worked.  Note: The University has agreed that given the complexity in managing and administering flexible furlough return to work is restricted to an employee’s normal full-day/full-shift patterns i.e. if an employee would normally have worked 7.3 hours, then they are either furloughed for the full 7.3 hours or they are working, these hours cannot be split between furlough and working hours.

Please note that employees will revert back to normal working arrangements as soon as the furlough period ceases.

No, until 30th June it was 3 weeks.  From 1 July, employers can bring furloughed employees back to work for any amount of time and any shift pattern, while still being able to claim CJRS grant for the hours not worked.  Note: The University has agreed that given the complexity in managing and administering flexible furlough return to work is restricted to an employee’s normal full-day/full-shift patterns i.e. if an employee would normally have worked 7.3 hours, then they are either furloughed for the full 7.3 hours or they are working, these hours cannot be split between furlough and working hours. Other than this restriction, the need for a minimum period on furlough leave when rotating staff no longer applies.

From 1 July, employers can bring furloughed employees back to work for any amount of time and any shift pattern, while still being able to claim CJRS grant for the hours not worked.  Note: The University has agreed that given the complexity in managing and administering flexible furlough return to work is restricted to an employee’s normal full-day/full-shift patterns i.e. if an employee would normally have worked 7.3 hours, then they are either furloughed for the full 7.3 hours or they are working, these hours cannot be split between furlough and working hours. Other than this restriction, the need for a minimum period on furlough leave when rotating staff no longer applies.

The changes to the scheme announced on 12th June 20 , mean that if you have more than one contract and have been on furlough leave in all roles, you no longer have to be on furlough leave for all or your roles at the University.  Subject to your manager/s confirming that you are required to work, It will be possible for you to come back part-time in one or both roles, or remain on furlough leave in one role and come back full or part-time in another role.  Note: You cannot work in another role for the periods you are contracted or assigned in another role but have been placed on furlough leave. 

This also applies if you have flexible working arrangements and carry out different roles/assignments via eClaims. For example, if you undertake assignments in Student Services assisting with administration and also do work for Campus Services in catering, then if there is no temporary work available in catering, you may still be able to work in Student Services. 

Yes, unless the government change the provisions for carers at some stage before 31st October 20.   Discussions should be held on a regular basis with your manager to discuss whether your caring responsibilities have changed and whether this changes your furlough leave situation. For example, it may be possible for the flexible furlough arrangements to apply. As these were not available previously it may have been necessary to furlough you for all your contracted hours, and this may no longer be the case.

Yes, unless the government change the provisions for carers at some stage before 31st October 20. 

As of 10 June, the Scheme is no longer available to employers who have not already used it, or to any employees who were not furloughed before 10 June, with the exception of employees returning from maternity, shared parental, adoption, paternity or parental bereavement leave up to 31st October 20).

Trade union representatives who are furloughed may continue to act as representatives, but cannot undertake any work during any period they are on furlough leave.  You can find details of trade union representatives as follows:  http://www.exeter.ac.uk/staff/employment/union/join/

If your queries are not covered within the FAQ’s, then you please discuss with your line manager in the first instance.   You can also speak to your HR representatives:

https://www.exeter.ac.uk/staff/employment/abouthr/contact/businesspartnersadvisors/  

Advice is also available from JRSHR@exeter.ac.uk on the University furlough scheme arrangements.