An interesting quirk of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is that furloughed workers are not entitled to the minimum wage. HMRC’s guidance categorically states that ‘individuals are only entitled to the National Living Wage (NLW)/National Minimum Wage (NMW)/ Apprentices Minimum Wage (AMW) for the hours they are working or treated as working under minimum wage rules.’
This means that workers that earned the minimum wage will end up with less than the hourly minimum wage when they are furloughed. There is also no requirement for their base salaries to be increased to reflect the new minimum wage rates that came into effect on 1 April 2020. These rates would obviously need to be paid if and when the furloughed workers start working again.
However, if time is spent on training whilst furloughed then the relevant Apprenticeship Minimum Wage, National Living Wage or National Minimum Wage must be paid for all relevant hours and the minimum wage increases from 1 April 2020 must also be considered.
If there is a shortfall between the amount paid whilst an employee is on furlough leave and the appropriate minimum wage, the employer will need to cover the difference.