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Pub staff who started roles in March not eligible for wage scheme

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Employers’ dilemma: the Government’s furlough scheme has a cut-off start date for new employees of 28 February
Employers’ dilemma: the Government’s furlough scheme has a cut-off start date for new employees of 28 February

Related tags: Coronavirus

Pub employers are faced with a dilemma after workers who started their roles on or after 1 March 2020 have been told they are not eligible for the Government’s job retention wage scheme.

For an individual to be eligible for the support, they would have had to start their new job by 28 February. 

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, companies can apply to furlough workers so that they will receive a grant worth 80% of their employees salaries.

However, if an individual started working at a company on or after 1 March, they are not eligible for this support, leaving many worried about redundancy or unpaid leave.

The Morning Advertiser​ understands several pub companies are waiting to see if the Government will make any further announcements on this issue before deciding what to do while others have already decided they simply cannot cover new staff’s loss of earnings.

Company approaches

Dorset-based brewer and pub operator Hall & Woodhouse has said it will fund 80% of new team members’ average earnings.

A spokesperson for the group said: “We have decided as these team members (the people that joined on or after 1 March) have joined the family, therefore, we want to look after them in the same way as other team members.”

Mitchells & Butlers said it will honour job offers unless the individual has been told by their former employer they can go back on its payroll in order to be valid for the Government scheme.

A spokesperson for the pub company said: “In most cases, we are honouring job offers, exceptions would be where the previous employer has agreed to extend notice periods so employees can be temporarily retained on their former employers’ payroll and furloughed. Where this isn’t possible, we will aim to honour the job offer on the same terms as furloughed employees until the business returns to normality. 

“If an employee is restarted with us within 28 days of leaving, we will treat them as if they have never left the business.”

Finance expert Martin Lewis has encouraged employers to put former employers back on their payrolls so that they can receive furlough payments.

He said: “Sadly, many employers won't do it. However, the fact it is confirmed to be legal – and it can be done – may help persuade some.”

Protecting jobs

British Beer & Pub Association chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “Unfortunately, there has to be a cut-off date and, thankfully, the Government didn’t chose the date when pubs were closed, thereby ensuring that any staff that had been laid off since 1 March could be furloughed instead. 

“We are working closely with the Government and our members to ensure the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme applies to as many people as possible.”

A Treasury spokesman said: “Our Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is protecting thousands of jobs up and down the UK – with the Government covering 80% of the salary of furloughed workers. 

“Firms can re-employ staff made redundant after 1 March and those who do not qualify will be able to access a range of other support – including an increase in the Universal Credit allowance, income tax deferrals, £1bn more support for renters and access to three-month mortgage holidays.”

Related topics: Legislation

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