I have received a number of emails from constituents regarding furloughing nursery staff.
I understand that the Department of Education published this information on 17 April and that there has now been a policy change on which staff can be furloughed. I realise that due to the sudden announcement, many nurseries and early year care providers will have furloughed their staff as this information was not present until recently.
The new guidance states which members of staff can be furloughed through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
Those employees who should only be furloughed if:
- The employee works in an area of business where services are temporarily not required and where their salary is not covered by public funding.
- The employee would otherwise be made redundant or laid off.
- The employee is not involved in delivering provision that has already been funded (free entitlement funding).
- (where appropriate) the employee is not required to deliver provision for a child of a critical worker and/or vulnerable child.
- The grant from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme would not duplicate other public grants received and would not lead to financial reserves being created.
If there is difficulty in distinguishing whether a staff member is funded through free entitlement or private income, then nurseries can use the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. The scheme can be used to pay the proportion of the wage that is from “parent paid” hours. An example of this would be that if a care providers monthly income comes from 40% of funded hours and then 60% is from other sources, then they will be able to claim through the Job Retention Scheme for the 60% of wage.
Further information on the changes can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-financial-support-for-education-early-years-and-childrens-social-care/coronavirus-covid-19-financial-support-for-education-early-years-and-childrens-social-care
The Government will still be supporting nurseries and early years care providers. However, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has always stated that 'where employers receive public funding for staff costs, and that funding is continuing, we expect employers to use that money to continue to pay staff in the usual fashion – and correspondingly not furlough them. This also applies to non-public sector employers who receive public funding for staff costs'.
It also states that 'where organisations are not primarily funded by the government and whose staff cannot be redeployed to assist with the coronavirus response, the scheme may be appropriate for some staff'.
The change is in order to support providers while also protecting the taxpayer from double funding (paying for staff to be furloughed whose salary is already being paid for by other public sector funding).
I understand that the change was unprecedented, but the scheme was always clear that it could not be used in a replacement of public funding.
If you are a constituent and you have a concern regarding how nurseries and early learning providers will be affected by the Job Retention Scheme, please contact my office.