Workforce measures announced by Government in response to COVID-19

30 Mar 2020

Following recent announcements by Government to protect jobs and support employees, there are a number of measures you may need to consider in your business. Here we outline all the recent changes and eligibility.

For more details on any of these changes, or to discuss individual circumstances contact the NPA Employment Advisory Service (on 0330 123 0558 /


Job Retention Scheme (Furlough)

Details: Temporary scheme commencing 1 March 2020 and open for a minimum of 3 months. Support employers who have had their operations severely affected by coronavirus (COVID-19).

Via a portal (yet to go live) the employer can claim 80% of the furloughed employees wages (up to £2,500 a month) as well as associated employer NI contributions and minimum auto-enrolment pension contributions.

Further information –

Eligibility: The scheme is open to all UK employers that had created and started a PAYE payroll scheme on 28 February 2020.

Furlough applies to employees who would otherwise be laid off or be made redundant due to a downturn in work, it does also apply to those who are shielding in line with public health guidance. It does not apply to those who are absent from work as a result of sickness, this continues to be managed via sickness processes and statutory sick pay/employer sick pay schemes as appropriate.

How to apply: The online claim service for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be launched on GOV.UK on Monday 20‌‌ April 2020.


Key worker Status – Childcare

Details: Temporary scheme to allow access to childcare provisions for the children of key workers during this period of school closures.

Eligibility: Key workers who have a role, which is essential for the continuation of this essential public service.

How to apply: via your child’s school or childcare provision. If the school is closed then you should apply via your local education authority.

The NPA has provided a letter template to enable pharmacy workers to evidence their key worker status.


Annual Leave

Details: Any statutory annual leave unused within this leave year can be carried forward for use in the coming 2 years. The regulations will now allow up to 4 weeks of unused leave to be carried into the next 2 leave years if the reason the days of leave cannot be taken is due to the current Covid-19 outbreak.

Eligibility: applicable to all employees.

How to apply: Employers should make staff aware of this facility and provide means to manage it within normal annual leave processes.


For a wide range of HR support during the COVID-19 Pandemic, free to NPA members, visit