Due to go on Mat leave but have been asked to consider furlough instead?

(22 Posts)
F1rstt1imer Tue 22-Dec-20 16:17:49

I’m currently furloughed as my workplace is closed due to tier 4 and due to go on Mat leave in mid Jan. I am entitled to 6months full pay (occupational mat leave) and have been asked by my HR team to consider being furloughed until April (end of current scheme) as they can reclaim 80% of my occupational mat pay as part of the furlough scheme. They’ve said that it won’t affect my pay or anything (they have been topping us up to 100% when on furlough) but I haven’t been able to find any information about it anywhere. I’m happy to agree to it in principal as it helps my workplace but don’t want to agree to it if it will have an effect going forward. Can anyone advise or point me in the direction of some guidance?

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cretelover Tue 22-Dec-20 16:20:15

I think maternity leave has to start the day the baby is born. I can't see why they couldn't furlough you up to then though.

Jobsharenightmare Tue 22-Dec-20 16:21:28

I don't have any knowledge of this but if you are in a union ask their advice. Might it impact pensions, NI? You could call ACAS helpline or CAB?

Starlight39 Tue 22-Dec-20 16:29:43

I'm sure I saw in one of the HMRC advisory emails that you can be on maternity leave and the furlough scheme will pay the extra to top you up to the maternity pay in your contract (if higher than SMP) up to April. I can't find the details but am about to email our payroll person to ask about mine so I'll let you know what she says.

F1rstt1imer Tue 22-Dec-20 16:37:35

@cretelover That’s what I thought which is why it seems odd.

@Jobsharenightmare I have asked our union but they didn’t know so just posted on here in the hope that someone might have some insider info. They topped up our pay to 100% before and this didn’t have an impact on my pension etc so I would assume that it wouldn’t this time.

@Starlight39 That would be great if you could! smile

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heyfrog Tue 22-Dec-20 16:42:03

Has your employer got other people on furlough? Would you be going on furlough if you weren't going on mat leave?

The government have haemorrhaged money on the scheme. Whilst many people have been legitimately furloughed a lot of more dubious employers have abused the scheme.

In theory yes your employer can claim for 80% of additional mat pay under the furlough scheme (can't claim for stat mat pay). But in my view they are open to challenge at a later date if you wouldn't have been furloughed had you not been going on mat leave.

F1rstt1imer Tue 22-Dec-20 17:19:09

@heyfrog I’m not due to go on Mat leave until mid January and have been furloughed as of yesterday along with about 180 other members of staff as our workplace is now closed to the public. So very legitimately furloughed and would still be furloughed even if I wasn’t pregnant as there is no work for me while we’re closed!

Sounds like it can be done, and must be a relatively recent development as can’t find anything about it anywhere online and the usual avenues that I would use for advice don’t seem to know much about it either!

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heyfrog Tue 22-Dec-20 19:26:47

This link is pretty helpful - unfortunately it doesn't seem to link to just your question but it sums it up pretty well!

https://www.hcrlaw.com/cjrs-furlough-qa/#question29

It sounds like it's all completely above board so no reason not to go along with what they've suggested smile

F1rstt1imer Wed 23-Dec-20 08:31:18

@heyfrog that’s really helpful! Thanks. I’m just waiting for my HR team to come back with a couple of answers to some other questions but like you said seems to be legit.

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Margaritatime Wed 23-Dec-20 09:45:00

You need advice on this from ACAS or your Union.

Giving up your right to SMP and occupational maternity might impact on your legal rights e.g. to return to the same role, to be given priority for roles in a redundancy situation, KIT days etc. It's not just about the pay.

flowery Wed 23-Dec-20 11:00:37

It's not 'instead'. And there's no suggestion of giving up rights to SMP or anything like that.

From the beginning of furlough, or virtually, it has been possible for an employer to claim furlough funding in respect of anything they pay over and above SMP for employees on maternity leave who would otherwise have been furloughed.

You will see no difference at all, it just means they can claim funding for some of your maternity pay.

flowery Wed 23-Dec-20 11:03:38

www.gov.uk/guidance/check-which-employees-you-can-put-on-furlough-to-use-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

F1rstt1imer Wed 23-Dec-20 11:04:40

@flowery thanks for clarifying. I’ve just had an email back from our HR team and legal team and they have confirmed the same that it is not ‘instead’ of but just so they can claim funding.

Thanks for everyone’s help grin

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Yellow85 Mon 28-Dec-20 18:34:45

So you can’t claim furlough and smp at the same time I’m afraid. You could be furloughed until the day after your baby is born (at the latest) then switch to maternity leave. That being said, your SMP payments will be calculated on your usual full earnings, rather than your reduced furlough rate.

heyfrog Mon 28-Dec-20 23:43:52

Yellow85 what are you basing this on? Yes you can be furloughed and on maternity leave....

heyfrog Mon 28-Dec-20 23:47:58

I mean, you're right about an employer not being able to claim back any of the SMP bit. But they can claim against any enhanced element of maternity pay.

Yellow85 Tue 29-Dec-20 10:42:59

heyfrog

Yellow85 what are you basing this on? Yes you can be furloughed and on maternity leave....

Yes you absolutely can be on maternity, what you cannot be is receiving furlough funds and receiving SMP payments at the same time.

heyfrog Tue 29-Dec-20 22:36:00

Well you can if those furlough funds are in respect of enhanced maternity pay

flowery Wed 30-Dec-20 14:01:02

Yellow85

So you can’t claim furlough and smp at the same time I’m afraid. You could be furloughed until the day after your baby is born (at the latest) then switch to maternity leave. That being said, your SMP payments will be calculated on your usual full earnings, rather than your reduced furlough rate.

Did you not see my link from earlier? Firstly, furlough funding isn't something an employee claims - it's for the employer to claim.

An employer can absolutely claim furlough funding in respect of someone who is on maternity leave, as long as that person is receiving enhanced maternity pay over and above SMP. This means that someone can be on furlough and maternity leave simultaneously.

If the person is only entitled to SMP, there is no possibility of the employer claiming any furlough funding in respect of that pay, therefore there is no point that employer seeking agreement from the employee to furlough them.

Babyroobs Thu 31-Dec-20 02:00:06

Surely if you are furloughed you have to be available to work when needed which clearly you wouldn't be able to with a newborn ?

flowery Thu 31-Dec-20 08:45:55

Babyroobs

Surely if you are furloughed you have to be available to work when needed which clearly you wouldn't be able to with a newborn ?

Not necessarily. An employer could put that condition on a ‘normal’ furloughed employee and that would be perfectly reasonable. Quite obviously they couldn’t put that condition on an employee on maternity leave. And how could they anyway? As the pay being received by the woman on maternity leave won’t change, and agreement is needed for furlough, there would be no reason for the employee to agree to being furloughed if any such condition were placed upon it.

All the OP is doing by agreeing to furlough is allowing her employer to claim funding in respect of her enhanced maternity pay. No one is (or could) requiring her to be available for work.

F1rstt1imer Thu 31-Dec-20 09:32:37

@flowery thanks for all your guidance on this, it has made it a much less stressful process than it could have been :-)

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