/Furloughed workers and May bank holidays – what you need to know

Furloughed workers and May bank holidays – what you need to know

Over 6million people across the UK have been put on furlough leave since the start of the coronavirus lockdown on March 23.

The latest figures show that employers have claimed for 6.3million workers through the UK Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (GCJRS) since it launched in April.

Under the scheme, employers can claim a grant covering 80 per cent of the wages for a furloughed employee – up to £2,500 a month – because they cannot afford to cover the cost of their wages.

The scheme has saved jobs which may otherwise have been lost as a result of the economic impact due to the Covid-19 crisis and is due to run until June 3o.

But what happens to pay on a bank holiday?

There are two public holidays this month – Friday, May 8 and Monday, May 25.

If a furloughed employee chooses to take one or both of these bank holidays, their employer must pay them in full for this time.

This means that for employers relying on the GCJRS to fund 80 per cent of their wages, they will need to provide the remaining 20 per cent themselves.

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The Liverpool Echo reports that Alan Price, CEO of BrightHR, has revealed that staff do not automatically get bank holidays off and whether they should get them largely depends on the terms and conditions of their contract.

He said: “If staff are contractually entitled to take bank holidays, they should be paid in full for any bank holidays that fall during a period of furlough.

“This means that if the May bank holiday is still designated as a bank holiday for people on furlough, full pay will be needed on Friday May 8.

“If employers wish to avoid having to meet this payment, they will need to seek agreement from staff to take the day in lieu at a later date.

“That said, they should proceed carefully and make sure they can evidence that staff have agreed to it. This is not something that an employer should seek to enforce; such an action would technically be a breach of contract.”

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In situations where staff are not contractually obliged to take bank holidays, it will be down to the employer if they will let furloughed staff take this as leave and top-up the remaining 20 per cent in their pay.

If employers do not allow workers to take the time off, the bank holiday will have no impact on staff earnings or entitlement, but they will need to let them take this time at a later date.

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