Hi, I just received a message that my post from last night bounced – apologies for that I am not sure why it has happened so I attach my response again, hopefully it will come through this time.
“Many thanks for your patience. The description of the CJRS states that “If you cannot maintain your current workforce because your operations have been severely affected by coronavirus (COVID-19), you can furlough employees and apply for a grant”. So it would initially suggest that furlough is only for businesses affected by Covid-19. However, it does not mean that this particular employee has to have been affected by it – as long as the business has in some ways been affected, which in truth will cover pretty much all businesses in the UK.
The only other mention is that you can consider furloughing employees on long-term sick leave, but does not define whether they have to be off sick for Covid-19 related reasons or not.
Overall, I would say you can apply and should do so, and if HMRC do not believe that the person is eligible, they can reject the claim. It is highly unlikely you would be accused of abusing the system when the rules themselves are not that clear – HMRC is mainly interested in people making claims for employees and then not paying them, or forcing employees to work whilst furloughed, which is against the rules.
Does this answer your query?”