Returning to work information

 In returning to work after the Coronavirus lockdown, SELECT's Employment Affairs department have collated frequently asked questions by Members to contribute to assisting in the safe planning to return to work.

Updated guidance on face-coverings in the workplace

The wearing of face coverings is to become mandatory in communal workplace areas, such as corridors, canteens and social spaces in the coming days. Changes to face covering regulations at work are summarised below:

From Friday 16 October 2020:

Face coverings must be worn in workplace canteens when not seated at a table, such as when queueing, entering or leaving the canteen.

From Monday 19 October 2020:

Face coverings must be worn in all indoor communal workplaces, such as corridors and social spaces.
Read more on Face Coverings here.

Where are we in the plan for reopening construction in Scotland?

Construction Scotland has published guidance to business on how to prepare for returning to work here. Please see Construction Scotland’s Restart Model for an at-a-glance view of the plans for reopening the industry in Scotland.

What preparations do I need to make prior to returning my workforce from furlough?

You should prepare the workplace and the workforce for returning to work at the appropriate time according to Construction Scotland’s Restart Model. Using the CICV Forum’s Safe Return and Restart document as a guide, you should prepare and make plans for matters such as:

  • Someone becoming ill while at work
  • Provision of cleaning products
  • Carrying out of cleaning
  • Access and egress from work areas
  • Travel to work areas
  • Movement around work areas
  • First aid at work
  • Breaks and eating arrangements
  • Working in teams
  • Meetings
  • Toilets
  • An unexpected reduction in the workforce due to workers self-isolating

You should lay out your plans for returning in a letter to your workforce, detailing the measures you’ve taken to protect their health and safety at work.  You can use the CICV Forum’s Returning to Work Template Letter (see Appendix 2a) for this purpose, as it contains a worker survey which will allow you to make a meaningful risk assessment of each workers’ planned return.

What is the minimum duration of a furlough under the Flexible Furlough Scheme?

For a furlough which began on or after 1 July 2020, there is no minimum furlough period, but any claim made to the CJRS must be made in respect of a seven-day period.

What do I have to pay when my workers are on furlough / return from furlough on a temporary part-time basis?

The payment due to furloughed workers will vary depending on when they are furloughed / part-time furloughed.
If you bring a worker back to work full time, they will be paid in line with their previous terms and conditions from before they were furloughed.

If you intend to bring a worker back to work part-time, you must first discuss it with the worker, and gain their written agreement for the working hours and working pattern you have in mind.  You should use this letter to communicate the new temporary terms, and to ask for their agreement for this.

You will then be liable to pay the worker at their full contractual rate for the hours they work for you, and they will be entitled to receive 80% of their usual wages, made up from contributions from the government and their employer.

Do I need to bring everyone back from furlough at the same time?

No; it is reasonable for you to bring your workers back according to the workload you anticipate, and in line with the skills of individuals in your workforce.
Be aware that if you choose to un-furlough some staff while others remain furloughed, you should ensure that you have sound reasoning for your decision to deter claims of discrimination.

Can I bring workers back from furlough now then have the option to re-furlough them again later?

Yes; any worker who has completed a period of furlough before 1 July 2020 will be able to be unfurloughed if necessary and refurloughed at any point until the conclusion of the scheme on 31 October 2020, subject to consent from the worker on each occasion.

From 1 July 2020, there will be no minimum length of furlough period, although claims made through the CJRS portal must be made in respect of at least 7 calendar days.

I’ve got someone who has a shielding letter – should they be furloughed or put on SSP?

The current guidance states that if a worker receives a letter telling them to start shielding, they should stay at home for at least 12 weeks. If they cannot work from home during this time, they can ask their employer if they can be put on furlough.

Ultimately in this situation it is for the employer to decide if they want to furlough them or pay SSP from day one.

However, care needs to be taken here. If the full workforce is back at work then you can decide which option you prefer, furlough or SSP. If some workers are still being furloughed and you decide against furloughing this worker and paying SSP instead, they may question this and could claim they are being discriminated against.

What additional information is needed to submit a claim for a part-time furlough grant?

To make a part-time furlough grant claim, you will need to work out the following for each employee:

  • Total number of contracted hours in a week
  • Hours worked that week
  • Hours spent on furlough that week

Hours worked should be paid at 100% of normal wages regardless of the stage of the furlough scheme we are at.

What if a worker refuses to return to work when their furlough ends?

In the first instance, speak to your worker to understand their concerns, and why they do not want to return to work. You will likely be able to use the guidance provided by the CICV Forum to put in place measures which will increase their confidence to return.  Encourage suggestions and try to accommodate those that are made, within reason.

You should have gathered information about your workforce’s readiness to return to work using the CICV Returning to Work Template Letter. You may see from the responses that your worker has specific health related or childcare related concerns, and you might consider prolonging their period of furlough for these reasons.

However if the company does cease to participate in the CJRS, you can also offer your worker the chance to use annual leave, parental leave, or unpaid leave when furlough ends.

If you feel you have taken all reasonable measures to safeguard your workers returning to the workplace, you are not going to continue using the furlough scheme, and your worker has not taken up any alternative leave offered, then you may wish to explore disciplinary action.  Please contact SELECT in advance of this, as it is more important than ever that disciplinary processes are carried out to the letter and in accordance with a consistent process.

When my workers are unfurloughed, should they continue to work from home where possible?

Yes, as per the Scottish Government’s guidance, working from home should be the default position for those who can until the end of Phase 3 of the Routemap, and in Phase 4 it remains encouraged.

Is there a cut-off for using the furlough scheme?

The scheme will end on 30 September 2021.

Is there a limit on how many workers can be claimed for on the furlough scheme?

From 1 March 2020 until 30 June 2020 there was no limit on the number of workers whose wages can be claimed for under the scheme.

Do I have to top up the furlough grant to workers to 100%?

No; there is no obligation for employers to top up furloughed workers’ wages to 100%.

How do the new furlough arrangements interact with workers taking holidays?

Simply put, any annual leave taken while on furlough, even part-time furlough, should be paid at 100% of wages.
For example:

  • A full-time employee brought back from furlough three days out of five wishes to take their three working days as annual leave
  • The three annual leave days should be paid at 100% wages
  • The two furlough days should be paid at the appropriate rate as laid out in the Furlough Payment Breakdown Table linked above