Employment update for schools: Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

21 April 2020

As schools, and indeed all employers, have begun getting to grips with new ways of operating in these unprecedented times, the focus of new government guidance in recent weeks has shifted to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). Many schools will be relying on the CJRS during school closures, but the CJRS is only a temporary measure, and schools should ensure that they are giving careful consideration as to how they will deal with employees when the CJRS comes to an end, currently on 30 June.

Our employment team summarise the current terms of the CJRS and consider the position at the end of the scheme.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The CJRS is a scheme available to all employers, including schools, and comes in the form of a grant to cover 80% of the wages of 'furloughed' staff (up to £2,500 per month). The scheme was announced for an initial period of three months from 1 March 2020 but has now been extended until 30 June 2020. Our latest update on the CJRS guidance can be found here, which includes a summary of the legal framework published on 15 April 2020.

The CJRS online portal, where employers can claim the grant from HMRC, opened today. HMRC have stated that payment should be received within four to six working days after employers submit a claim.

At the end of CJRS

If the CJRS is not extended beyond the end of June, furloughed school staff will be entitled to return to full pay. However, many schools will be continuing to struggle financially at this point, and may not be able to afford to return their staff to full pay.

To ensure they are prepared, schools should be considering how they will approach this situation now in order to reduce their financial burden. This may include asking term-time staff to agree to a reduction in pay over the summer holidays, or possibly even redundancies.  If some staff are due to work over the summer holidays, if their employment contract permits, schools could lay them off or put them on short-time working, or consider asking them to take periods of unpaid leave.

If schools are seeking employment advice on how to deal with legal issues surrounding the CJRS, options afterwards, or other COVID-19 related employment matters, our Employment Team would be happy to assist.

Our list of useful links for employers (including the guidance referred to above) is available here.

For further information and advice, please contact a member of our Employment Team or your usual Wilsons contact.

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