Employers can put self-isolating staff on furlough

Employers can claim from the furlough scheme for staff who are self-isolating. Read more: Employers can put self-isolating staff on furlough

Employers can put self-isolating staff on furlough

Employers can claim from the furlough scheme for staff who are self-isolating.

The entitlement exists despite government guidance stating it is not what the scheme is intended for.

The little-known entitlement was first reported by Politico magazine after emails from civil servants complaining about government guidance were leaked.

One email from a civil servant said the Treasury was “reluctant” to say the scheme could be used in such a way.

“Furlough can be used to cover self-isolation, but HMT [the Treasury] are reluctant to say this explicitly in guidance because it could lead to employees being furloughed who do not need to be,” Politico quoted one of the emails as saying.

“Incentive payments are too low to incentivise employees to take tests due to risk of loss of income.”

The emails quoted by the magazine said a senior official was concerned people might avoid taking tests because if they had to self-isolate, their incomes would drop to statutory sick pay level.

The Treasury said that far from hiding anything, it was there “in plain English” that employers could choose to furlough self-isolating staff.

Statutory sick pay requires employers to pay at least £96.35 per week when staff are off sick for more than four days, whereas the furlough scheme, also known as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, pays 80% of an employee’s normal wages up to £2,500 per month.

A section in the government guidance on business support titled “If your employee is self-isolating or on sick leave”, says employees self-isolating or on sick leave as a result of Covid “may be able to get statutory sick pay”.

It adds that the Job Retention Scheme “is not intended for short-term absences from work due to sickness” and “short term illness or self-isolation should not be a consideration when deciding if you should furlough an employee”.

However, the guidance states if employers “want to furlough employees for business reasons and they are currently off sick, they are eligible to do so, as with other employees”.

The guidance also states employers “can furlough employees who are clinically extremely vulnerable or at the highest risk of severe illness from coronavirus”.

“It’s up to employers to decide if they will furlough these employees. An employer does not need to be facing a wider reduction in demand or be closed to be eligible to claim for these employees,” it says.

‘Always been clear’

Treasury officials argue the guidance makes it clear that employers can choose to put staff on sick pay or use the furlough scheme.

A Treasury spokesperson said: “It has always been clear that the purpose of the furlough scheme is to support jobs – we’ve been upfront about that from the start.

“The guidance sets out that the scheme is not intended for short-term absences from work due to sickness or self-isolation. We have a specific support package in place for those self-isolating due to coronavirus, including one-off payments for those on low incomes.

“If an employer wants to furlough an employee for business reasons and they are currently off sick then they are eligible to do so as with other employees. This has been set out in guidance since April last year.”

Bridget Phillipson, Labour’s shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, called the news “shocking”.

“The government were advised time and time again how crucial a proper self-isolation system is for curbing the spread of infection, and protecting people’s lives and livelihoods,” she said.

“It is shameful and reckless that the chancellor ignored professional advice and put countless people and workplaces at unnecessary risk when he had the opportunity to help.”

Rachel Harrison, national officer at the GMB union, said: “Suppressing advice on furlough eligibility during self-isolation is scandalous and incompetent.

“Lives will likely have been lost and higher infection rates will cost the NHS and employers far more in the long run.

“We need to know whether ministers approved the decision to withhold this advice. An urgent investigation should be established with accountability to Parliament.”

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Employers can put self-isolating staff on furlough

Source : Business Matters More   

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TikTok sees its earnings double in 2020

ByteDance, the Chinese company behind the smash-hit video app TikTok, saw its earnings double last year. Read more: TikTok sees its earnings double in 2020

TikTok sees its earnings double in 2020

ByteDance, the Chinese company behind the smash-hit video app TikTok, saw its earnings double last year.

An internal memo released to staff showed that the firm’s total revenue jumped by 111% to $34.3bn (£25.6bn) for 2020.

The figures underscore TikTok’s continued global popularity.

It comes as ByteDance and several other Chinese technology giants have come under increasing pressure from governments around the world.

ByteDance also saw its annual gross profit rise by 93% to to $19bn, while it recorded a net loss of $45bn for the same period.

The net loss was attributed to a one-off accounting adjustment and not related to the company’s operations.

The memo also showed that ByteDance had around 1.9bn monthly active users across all of its platforms as of December last year.

White House pressure

The massive popularity of TikTok has meant that ByteDance has been scrutinised by governments around the world, including in the US and China.

On Thursday, Reuters reported that an executive order signed by President Joe Biden earlier this month would force some Chinese apps to take tougher measures to protect user data if they want to stay in the US market.

During the previous administration, President Donald Trump regularly attacked ByteDance, accusing TikTok of being a threat to US national security.

Politicians and officials raised concerns about users’ personal data being passed to the Chinese government.

TikTok has denied accusations that it shared user data with Beijing.

Beijing scrutiny

In April, Chinese regulators called on 13 online platforms, including ByteDance, to adhere to tighter regulations in their financial divisions.

It came as part of a wider push to rein in the country’s technology giants.

The authorities said the aim was to prevent monopolistic behaviour and the “disorderly expansion of capital”.

For many years, Beijing had taken a hands off approach to encourage the technology industry to grow.

Company shake-up

In May, ByteDance announced that the company’s CEO and co-founder Zhang Yiming would step down and transition to a new role by the end of the year.

In a letter to employees, Mr Zhang said he will be succeeded by fellow co-founder Rubo Liang.

“The truth is, I lack some of the skills that make an ideal manager. I’m more interested in analysing organizational and market principles, and leveraging these theories to further reduce management work, rather than actually managing people,” Mr Zhang wrote in a message on the company’s website.

“Similarly, I’m not very social, preferring solitary activities like being online, reading, listening to music, and contemplating what may be possible,” he added.

The move marked the biggest shake-up at the Chinese technology giant since its launch almost a decade ago.

Read more:
TikTok sees its earnings double in 2020

Source : Business Matters More   

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