The government have stated they will support employers by paying 80% of salaries under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, in order to avoid redundancies.

They have still to release more information on how this can be claimed however we have answered a few questions you may have regarding this scheme.

What does Furlough mean?

The word furlough generally means temporary leave of absence from work. Furlough leave has been introduced by the government during the coronavirus pandemic to mean leave offered which keeps employees on the payroll without them working. As the furloughed staff are kept on the payroll, this is different to being laid off without pay or being made redundant.

People who get furloughed must not work for the employer during the period of furlough but usually return to their job afterwards unless redundancies follow.

Are you eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme? (Claiming 80% of employee’s salaries)

Any employer in the country (whatever size) will be eligible for the scheme. Charitable and non-profit organisations are included.

However, the scheme is intended to apply only to employers who cannot cover staff costs due to COVID-19. These employers can access support to continue paying part of their employee’s wage, in order to avoid redundancies.

Detailed treasury guidance is expected imminently. This should clarify the mechanics of the scheme; all employers are clearly eligible to apply but we do now know the extent of the evidence required.

Are the payments a grant or a loan?

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers who would otherwise have dismissed employees during this crisis can access payments for part of the employees’ salary. This is a grant which employers do not have to pay back. The scheme will run for three months but may be extended as necessary. The details we have so far are as follows:

  • • HMRC will pay 80% of furloughed workers wages, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.
  • • HMRC are setting up a new online portal for reimbursement.
  • • The pay will be backdated to wages payable from 1 March 2020.

Can employees still work while being classed as Furlough?

To qualify for the scheme, employees must not undertake work for the employer while furloughed.

The grants do not cover the wages of employees working a reduced schedule due to the virus; the employees must not work for the employer at all during the furlough period.

When will the funding be available?:

This funding will be open to all employers with a PAYE payroll scheme that was created and started on or before 28 February 2020, including charities. Employers can apply for grants of 80% of furloughed employees' monthly wage costs, up to £2,500 a month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on that wage, provided they keep the worker employed. HMRC have been working night and day to develop this scheme and more information on this is available here: HMRC are hoping to have this up and running by the end of April 2020.

The following update highlights a temporary change to the way applications are processed by Disclosure Scotland.

Disclosure Scotland have been working closely with the Scottish Government and key stakeholders on its response to coronavirus (COVID-19).

To aid their prioritisation of checks for those who have the most vital roles supporting the country during this time, Disclosure Scotland will no longer be accepting paper applications from Monday (30 March). 

On Monday 30th March 2020, a new page will go live on the Disclosure Scotland website with all the materials you need to continue to submit applications. 

Please note; this process should only be completed by countersignatories.

  • you can submit an application to Disclosure Scotland via email using the template on the Disclosure Scotland website
  • electronic signatures (typewritten or scanned) from the applicant and countersignatory will be accepted
  • Disclosure Scotland will process the application through their priority service
  • where possible Disclosure Scotland will email you a notification of the outcome, prior to receiving the paper certificate in an expedited timeframe

Where this is not possible there will be two other outcomes:

  • you will not receive any advance notification from Disclosure Scotland and will have to wait on the paper certificate which will still be in an expedited timeframe
  • you will receive a notification advising that Disclosure Scotland are unable to prioritise your application at this time and will be unable to give a timescale for completion

At this critical time, Disclosure Scotland are providing a safeguarding service to ensure the vast majority of applicants can get cleared to help with coronavirus.

If Disclosure Scotland do not send you a disclosure, either by email or certificate, please do not assume this is because they are late or have made a mistake. A small number of applications require Disclosure Scotland to be fully operational to process and that is impossible at this time. 

If you are submitting urgent applications related to coronavirus in the following weeks please contact the dedicated Disclosure Scotland helpline on 0141 302 8511 to plan how you can go about doing this most efficiently. 

As it stands the list of prioritised roles remains:

  • Healthcare
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Childcare
  • Social work
  • Social care
  • Prisons and justice

Temporary changes to ID checking guidelines are being made as a result of the coronavirus outbreak:

To ensure that the necessary DBS checks can still be carried out, the DBS ID checking guidance will be changed for a temporary period.

The change will allow:

  • ID documents to be viewed over video link

Or, if it is not possible to verify documents via video link:

  • scanned images can be viewed in advance of the DBS check being submitted

This change should only be implemented for urgent cases where it is not possible to follow the normal identity checking guidelines The applicant must present the original versions of these documents when they first attend their employment or volunteering role.

The change will come into effect immediately.

VAO realise that keeping yourself busy whilst self isolating at home is key to getting through this uniquely difficult time. For those who are volunteers it can be very frustrating if you aren’t able to help the community in your usual way.

But there is a volunteering alternative you can do from home. Micro-Volunteering describes a volunteer or team of volunteers, completing small tasks that make up a larger project. It’s a convenient and easy way for potential volunteers to get involved as it can be done anytime, anywhere.

Examples include: citizen science, (activities sponsored by a wide variety of organizations so non-scientists can meaningfully contribute to scientific research), letter writing, proof reading, photo-tagging, surveys, petitions

It differs from traditional volunteering in that the tasks are designed to take only minutes to a few hours and the volunteer does not make a long-term commitment.

It can take  the form of virtual volunteering where tasks are usually distributed and completed online via an internet-connected device, including smartphones.

Micro-volunteering typically does not require an application process, screening or training period, takes only minutes or a few hours to complete and does not require an ongoing commitment by the volunteer.

Each week VAO will post links to two micro volunteering opportunities for you to consider and once you have the bug you may well want to research your own.

This week’s opportunities are:

Happy Volunteering😊

" home-related services (plumbers, electricians, businesses that can supply white goods and materials etc) that can be called in an emergency"

(If you would like your details added then please email )


R.S.Merriman Ltd - In line with the government announcements R.S.Merriman Ltd will be closed for the foreseeable future from today 24th March 2020.

We shall attend emergencies such as loss of electricity/heating/cooking/water/critical plant breakdown.– 01856850105 in office hours, 07801657648 / 07850782141 out of hours.

We thank all our customers for their understanding in these difficult times. Stay safe.


Martin Hourston, plumbing, is available 721 284 or 721231 or mobile 07742321270

Davy Prentice - plumbing, - 07985 287979 

Pipedream Plumbing. If you have an emergency i.e. no heating or hot water then please call 874343 and leave a message and we will come back to you. This is for emergencies only

Businesses that can supply white goods or materials

Orkney Television Enterprise - 01856 888888- As we’re sure most of you would have seen, Boris announced earlier this evening that we, like many others, have to close until further notice.
We will still be here if you need us, so please contact us if you have an emergency appliance / tv breakdown etc. Contact details can be found below. Take care and stay safe. From Fran, Amanda, Norman and all the staff at OTE.

William Wilsons are available for Emergency Only callouts for materials. There are specific collection slot of 2pm to 3pm daily, and only once a day. Goods must be collected from outside branch. My mobile number is 07850282719 if required. Purely for Emergencies only I’m afraid.

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