Q: I live in Kempston. My mother lived in Norwich and died just before Christmas. All the relevant forms have been completed ready to be sent to the Probate Office but I need certified copies of her Will before sending it with everything else. Is there any way this can be done given the government ruling or will I have to wait until lockdown is relaxed?

A: It can be done providing the person certifying can see the original will. We are prepared to do this via zoom/facetime and ask that you send us a scanned copy of the will (if it was not make with us) then we will send a certified copy out in the post.

Q: Can my ex reduce child maintenance payments if he is furloughed?

A: Generally maintenance is assessed on the payers income. If that reduces as a consequence of furloughing then maintenance should also reduce, and be recalculated by reference to the reduced salary. If maintenance is assessed by CMS or court ordered, then a variation application would need to be made if it cannot be agreed by the parties.

Q: Can employees be forced to go on furlough leave?

A: This is subject to the terms of employment. If the contract of employment does not permit the employer to designate an employee a furlough worker then this needs to be negotiated and agreed between the employee and the employer.

Q: Am I still entitled to furlough payments if I was made redundant?

A: If you were made redundant then you will cease to be an employee in accordance with the terms of your employment and the redundancy process. In contrast, if you are designated as furlough you will remain an employee albeit be unable to work during the period of furlough. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been implemented to encourage employers not to make redundancies as a result of the pandemic. The scheme applies to existing employees. If you have been made redundant then you are no longer an employee and as such will not be entitled to furlough payments. If eligible you may though be entitled to other payments including statutory redundancy pay and any contractual payments. Employers may consider re-employing those who have been made redundant and designate them as furlough workers. We are yet to see details around whether grants will be given to employers under the scheme in such circumstances. There is a common misconception that employees are entitled to receive furlough payments (i.e. the payments from the Government). This is not the case and employers are required to pay employees and can obtain reimbursement under the scheme to cover 80% of wages, up to £2,500 a month. It is not currently clear whether such reimbursements will then be subject to tax deductions. As such, employers will need to consider whether they can vary employees’ terms under the contract of employment or whether agreement is required between the parties. Employers may have to vary employee’s salary during the furlough period to take account for the reimbursement which will be received and a subsequent deduction of tax, national insurance, pension and other deductions. In particular, employers will still need to have cash flow readily available to pay employees prior to receiving the grant. Employees should be mindful that if they are not open to negotiation or consider a decrease in salary then they may be made redundant or laid off.

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