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Employment Update for Small Businesses
February 2021

Dear Subscriber

This month we have information about some small changes to the Furlough Scheme, with guidance on how to treat various forms of COVID-related absence.
Please contact me if you would like to find out a bit more about any of the subjects raised in this update or if you need any help or advice.

Please forward this email to any of your contacts who might find it of benefit.

Peter Etherington
Tel: 01664 668164


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Peter Etherington
The Furlough Scheme
HMRC update
HMRC has updated its guidance on the Scheme to confirm that you are able to furlough staff whose health has been affected by COVID or any other conditions. That includes if they are unable to work from home or work reduced hours because they:

  • are clinically extremely vulnerable, or at the highest risk of severe illness from coronavirus and following public health guidance
  • have caring responsibilities resulting from COVID, such as caring for children who are at home as a result of school and childcare facilities closing, or caring for a vulnerable individual in their household

You do not have to furlough them in these cases, it is always the employer’s choice whether or not to furlough.  Also, please note that the guidance makes it clear you cannot furlough staff who are sick with COVID or are self-isolating in line with NHS guidance. In those cases they are likely to be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) from day one, and you can claim back up to two-weeks worth of SSP in this scenario.

National Minimum and Living Wage
From 1st April 2021, the National Living Wage will apply to workers aged 23 and over. Currently it is for workers aged 25 and over. Also the rates for the National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage rates will increase as follows:

  • to £8.91 per hour (from £8.72) for workers aged 23 and over (+ 2.2%)
  • to £8.36 per hour (from £8.20) for workers aged 21 to 22 (+ 2%)
  • to £6.56 per hour (from £6.45) for workers aged 18 to 20 (+ 1.7%)
  • to £4.62 per hour (from £4.55) for workers aged 16 and 17 (+ 1.5%)
  • to £4.30 per hour (from £4.15) for apprentices under 19 and those over 19 in their first year* (+ 3.6%)

*N.B. Apprentices over 19 and who have completed at least one year are entitled to the appropriate rate for their age.