I can’t furlough staff to the exact value that I am entitled to using my public to private income split
In this scenario you will need to furlough the staff that get you as close to the value but remain under that threshold. If you have furloughed staff to the paybill value that takes you over that threshold you will need to bring them back and either furlough another member of staff with lower costs or not furlough to the full proportion that is available to you.
If you are significantly disadvantaged by this rule please contact us as we are constantly providing examples of how the system is disadvantaging providers to the government.
Can I furlough staff and charge parents a retainer fee?
At NDNA we have produced a template letter for settings that want to approach parents for a retainer to ensure they can meet their costs during this crisis. The access to the scheme is based on your income breakdown in February so asking parents for a retainer now won’t affect your income levels for the purpose of claiming from the CJRS.
Do I need to bring my staff back from furlough?
A lot of nurseries will be really worried about the cost of bringing staff back off furlough having been re-assured by Government statements that they would be able to utilise the Job Retention Scheme, even while receiving the early entitlement funding.
The decision being made at the last minute has created a lot of issues for providers as it amounts to a retrospective approach to staff who may have been furloughed from March.
We are looking into the legal implications of this because we know people have made reasonable decisions based on the information available to them – which has now been changed retrospectively.
We will be fighting for the Government to reconsider this decision as we don’t believe they have understood the consequences for providers and the early years sector and their staff.
We know nurseries and their employees are supporting key workers and vulnerable children at this critical time. Early years staff are critical workers supporting critical workers and the Government needs to be finding ways to support them not undermine them.
We will also be using our data on local authorities’ underspends and contingency funds in their early years budgets to argue that these funds should be used to support the early years sector.
NDNA members can call our free legal helpline for support.
Can I bring staff out of furlough to cover for staff who have to go into isolation?
We know how important it is that providers have flexibility to bring staff back from furlough early should existing members of staff become ill and another needs to step in. Hence, the minimum 3 week period does not work for this sector. We have consistently raised this with Government but they have not taken the opportunity within the latest CJRS guidance to revise this timeframe. We wil continue to raise this issue with them.
Can furloughed staff do online training?
You can ask furloughed staff to undertake training to remain upskilled whilst away from work under the latest guidance of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme criteria.
However, they must be paid at least the National Living Wage (NLW) / National Minimum Wage (NMW) for the time spent training even if this is more than the 80% of their wage that will be subsidised.
This means that you will need to top-up staff wages to ensure that the additional hours of training (work) they are being asked to do, doesn’t take them below the NLW/NMW thresholds.
To avoid breaching this requirement and to demonstrate compliance in any potential HMRC audit you may want to set out the time you expect an employee to spend completing online training in a defined period (eg. 4 hours per week / 16 hours per month) and pay them the statutory minimum wage for those hours. If you are confident that the 80% of their usual salary keeps them above the statutory minimum wage then this may not be necessary.
Can my staff post to social media when on furlough?
Your staff can post to social media from their personal accounts while on furlough. Staff cannot post to social media accounts using official nursery accounts as this is considered working.
If for example your staff want to collaborate to create pictures to share with children and families, they can do so as this is considered volunteering, but they must not be encouraged to do so by the nursery in the first instance, as this is considered working to benefit the business.
Furloughing and apprenticeships
The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) is implementing measures to make it easier for apprenticeships to continue and complete in a different way if they need to. However, it may be possible to break and resume an apprenticeship later when that becomes possible. See this here.
See HMRC guidance covering furloughed apprentices here.
Can I apply for the Coronavirus Self-Employment Income Support Scheme?
- You are eligible to apply to this scheme if you have the following:
- have submitted your Income Tax Self Assessment tax return for the tax year 2018-19
- traded in the tax year 2019-20
- are trading when you apply, or would be except for COVID-19
- intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020-21
- have lost trading/partnership trading profits due to COVID-19
- Your self-employed trading profits must also be less than £50,000 and more than half of your income come from self-employment. This is determined by at least one of the following conditions being true:
- having trading profits/partnership trading profits in 2018-19 of less than £50,000 and these profits constitute more than half of your total taxable income
- having average trading profits in 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-19 of less than £50,000 and these profits constitute more than half of your average taxable income in the same period
You can claim up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for 3 months but the scheme will not be ready until June 2020. HMRC will contact you if you are eligible. Those who pay themselves a salary and dividends through their own company are not covered by the scheme but will be covered for their salary by the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme if they are operating a PAYE scheme. This means if you are not eligible under this scheme, you would need to furlough yourself under the Job Retention Scheme.
What about fraud?
Measures to counter potential fraud and abuse of the scheme include:
- The employee must have been on payroll by 19 March
- The employer needs to have already been authenticated by HMRC
- There will be a 4 to 6 day processing period to make background checks
- There will also be checks after grants have been made to verify claims
To be eligible, employees need to be included in an HMRC RTI Submission. It states: “You can only claim for furloughed employees that were on your PAYE payroll on or before 19 March 2020 and which were notified to HMRC on an RTI submission on or before 19 March 2020.This means an RTI submission notifying payment in respect of that employee to HMRC must have been made on or before 19 March 2020.”
For those who have come to you from another job, they can return to their previous employer if they were added to payroll after the cut-off date.
There will be a whistleblower’s hotline where fraud or abuse of the scheme can be reported (for example, if an employee has been asked to work when on furlough).
Advice for Wales nurseries from Welsh Government
The Welsh Government has issued advice on the operation of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to public sector organisations and publicly funded bodies and grant scheme managers.
Childcare provision has certain separate features to other schemes so the Welsh Government has issued additional advice which relates solely to childcare providers.
See the guidance
What details can local authorities in Wales ask for when I make a claim for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme?
We are aware of a number of local authorities asking providers for details around the number of staff furloughed, personal information about those staff as well as income breakdowns in relation to Foundation Phase, Flying Start, Childcare Offer and C-CAS funding and the CJRS.
Welsh Government guidance
does state that you need to inform local authorities when you do make a claim to the CJRS and declare that you are not double funding posts as a result of that claim. However, it doesn’t state that you have to provide further information about the details of that claim. We will be writing to local authorities in Wales to ask what their legal basis is for requesting this personal and private financial information. If you are asked for anything more than a declaration that you’re not double funding roles, you are entitled to request the basis for the local authority requesting that information and the purposes it will be used for.
The relevant section is below. We are already challenging the Welsh Government on the second point as it creates more uncertainty for providers than clarity.
"Providers getting funding from Childcare Offer Wales, C-CAS or Flying Start
If you are getting funding from the Childcare Offer Wales or Flying Start you can still apply for the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme. When you apply you must tell your local authority:
You are not using the scheme and Welsh Government funding to double fund the salaries of furloughed employees
The payments you get do not (combined with existing and anticipated public funding), mean you get a total amount of public funding that is more than your planned level of income to cover salaries”
Where can I find more information about the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme?
More information on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is available through our HR partner Citation.
If you have questions on the scheme please send them through to us using “CJRS Enquiry” in the subject to email@example.com and we will share them directly with the DfE for direct answers and either get an official FAQ document to share with providers or direct responses to your enquiries.
See all coronavirus support
NDNA members can call our free legal helpline for support.
We urge you to take this up at a local level with your own MPs and parents. We have produced template letters for parents and MPs so you can highlight to them exactly what this will mean for your nurseries and staff. Parents will want to know how this approach will impact on the staff you are able to retain and the risks posed to your long term sustainability. MPs need to understand how vital your nursery is to the children you look after now but also the future of your local economy if parents are to be able to return to work.