Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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COVID-19 Furlough and Financial Support

COVID-19 Furlough and Financial Support

Context and Background Information

We have had a number of questions from schools relating to furlough and financial support. This document has been produced jointly by HR and Finance

The government is regularly updating its information and so it is advisable to regularly check their website.  Comprehensive guidance, published on 17 April, with links to other guidance can be found at Coronavirus (COVID-19): financial support for education, early years and children’s social care.  

Updated information from government on 12th May confirms that the furlough scheme will be extended until October Chancellor extends furlough scheme until October - GOV.UK

The Local Government Association has also produced additional guidance, which can be found at LGA workforce update: job retention scheme | Local Government Association with some specific guidance for schools in the attached document below.

Download LGA guidance

Summary and Key Headlines

  • Schools will continue to receive their budgets for the coming year, as usual, regardless of any periods of partial or complete closure. That will ensure that they are able to continue to pay their staff, and meet their other regular financial commitments, as we move through these extraordinary times
  • Councils (and schools) are not expected to furlough their directly employed workforce, this includes casuals, zero hours staff and apprentices all of whom should continue to be paid as normal
  • In the first instance staff whose work is no longer possible should be considered for redeployment, if that is not possible, some employees will remain on normal pay during this period even if there is no work they can do.
  • Where there are separate private income streams, where this income has either stopped or been reduced and there are staff that are typically paid from these private income streams, it may be appropriate to furlough staff.
  • Casual workers are protected from discrimination in relation to any protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010.
  • When making any decision to furlough it is important to consider the different employment status of those providing work :
    • Employees – full time and part time
    • Zero hour employees are employees if they have an employment contract with the local authority.
    • Casual workers who provide work under a statement of engagement are workers as there is no obligation to provide work and the individual is under no obligation to accept offers of work.
  • The expectation is that all categories of employee and worker should be treated consistently even if they are unable to perform their usual work for the school/local authority, which means they will be receiving “normal” full pay during that period. 
  • There is no set way in which employers are required to calculate pay for casuals but, in order to act reasonably, it could mean either basing pay on any scheduled work within the relevant pay period or basing pay on actual average monthly earnings over a set period (for example over a 6 or 12 month period).

Financial Support & Criteria for Furlough

This section summarises the financial support which is available for early years and education in England. Financial support is intended to be temporary, timely and targeted. Its purpose is to support public services, people and businesses through this period of disruption. Additional grants and reliefs provided should not lead to financial reserves being created and different financial support streams should not be accessed for the same costs.

Schools cannot make claims for loss of income.

Note: the guidance for nursery schools is different from the school- based nurseries.

Schools

The government will continue to provide core funding i.e. Dedicated School Grant (DSG) as well as high needs and top up funding for individual children and young people to all local authority maintained schools (including school based nursery provisions), pupil referral unit, academies and free schools regardless of periods of full or partial closure.

Schools should not furlough staff as funding is continuing.  However if funding for some staff salaries is met specifically through a private income stream e.g. catering operations or sports facilities, furloughing staff may be appropriate. All saving and redeployment opportunities should be considered before seeking support from the Coronavirus Job Protection Scheme.

The following criteria must be met

  1. Employee must work in area of business where services are suspended and their salary is not covered by public funding
  2. Employee would otherwise be made redundant or laid off
  3. Employee is not involved in delivering an already funded provision
  4. Employee is not required to deliver provision for a key worker child and/or vulnerable child
  5. A grant from Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme does not duplicate public grants received or lead to financial reserves being created.

Schools total average monthly private income as a percentage of its total income will be used as the basis for a grant application. This percentage will be applied to the school’s total paybill.  Staff, who are directly linked with this lost income and whose usual salary or combined salaries are no greater than this calculated percentage of the total paybill, may where appropriate be furloughed.  Schools are not required to look at individual income streams.

Example: Private income stream 4% of monthly average total income. Grant may be awarded for furloughed staff linked to lost income whose total salaries do not exceed 4% of the schools paybill.

High Needs

High needs funding will be continue to be paid and teachers and other staff should continue to be paid in accordance with their existing contracts, furlough is not appropriate in this context.

Teaching and non-teaching staff (administration, operations, maintenance and catering) should not be furloughed where they are funded from continued high needs funding, and where necessary and feasible, should be available for redeployment within settings and in other settings to assist in maintaining provision for vulnerable children and young people, and the children of critical workers.

Early Years

This guidance is for early years providers and for maintained nurseries (i.e. Henry Allen and Bowerdean nurseries)

Early years providers will continue to receive free early educational entitlements for 2, 3 and 4 year olds through DSG funding.

Nurseries have been given a business rates holiday if the property has an Ofsted early years’ registration and is used wholly or mainly for the provision of the Early Years Foundation Stage. However billing authorities cannot grant relief to themselves so maintained nurseries are not eligible for rates relief.

A provider can seek support through the Coronavirus Job retention Scheme if they meet the following criteria

  1. Employee must work in area of business where services are suspended and their salary is not covered by public funding
  2. Employee would otherwise be made redundant or laid off
  3. Employee is not involved in delivering an already funded provision ( free entitlement funding)
  4. Employee is not required to deliver provision for a key worker child and/or vulnerable child
  5. A grant from Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme does not duplicate public grants received or lead to financial reserves being created.

If staff cannot clearly be distinguished as funded through private income rather than funded grants then February 2020 income should be considered the providers usual income. The percentage of parent- paid hours income as a percentage of total income received in February 2020 should be used as the percentage to apply to its paybill to determine eligible payroll costs. Providers should adjust these proportions in subsequent furloughing applications if their income from the government’s free entitlement funding changes.  Adjustments should not be made in relation to changes in parent- paid income.

An application process is being developed  by HR and Finance.  Once it has been approved it will be added to this guidance.

Are school staff able to take on another role which supports other critical services whilst schools are closed due to lockdown?

Unless there are very specific circumstances, school staff have not been furloughed and therefore staff should be working to support key worker and vulnerable children or delivering remote learning. 

For staff who have not been furloughed, but are not working because pupils are not in school and they are not involved in delivering learning in any other way, we can either agree to second the person for their normal working hours to the care provider, and we have a new agreed process in place to do this, or a person can decide to volunteer or decide to take on another job in their non-contracted hours.

In those exceptional circumstances where school staff have been furloughed, then they will be able to receive payment from another employer providing there is no breach of the existing contract. In this case, the individual would enter a separate employment contract with the care provider.

Although the Local Authority is in support of this request for school staff to support other critical services, we would stress that all scenarios, whether it be secondment, voluntary or furloughed, staff will need agreement from their head teacher before they progress to ensure we are able to support the individual, protect their wellbeing and ensure resilience in their permanent role.

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