Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the workplace: Plan to rebuild – ‘Flexible furlough’

‘Flexible furlough’ is here and available from 1 July 2020!

The changes were published by way of an adaptation to certain existing rules and information as well containing a few new ones (see link below).

Before 1 July 2020, furloughed employees could not undertake any work for their employer (other than training). This has now changed. Employees can now be ‘part-working’ and ‘part-furloughed’.

Any employer can only claim in respect of an employee who has been previously furloughed for at least 3 consecutive weeks (between 1 March 2020 and 30 June 2020). This means, to claim flexible furlough, the employee concerned must have been furloughed before - although, specific exemptions apply for employees on maternity, paternity, parental, adoption, shared parental or parental bereavement leave.

Accordingly, the last date an employer could furlough an employee for the first time was 10 June 2020.

Under the new scheme, the minimum claim period is 7 calendar days rather than the previous 3 weeks. Accordingly, an employer can make a maximum of 4 claims per month. Claims should not cover separate months.

Under the flexible furlough scheme, an employer can bring back an employee for any amount of time, in any pattern and claim for the hours not worked. An easy example is an employee who is contracted to work for 5 days works for 2, the employer can claim for the remaining 3. This can then be changed depending on the fluctuation of work.

The total number of furloughed employees under the new scheme cannot be exceeded under the new scheme, except that parents (see above) are excluded. This could be a problem for employers who rotated furlough for staff. For example, an employer has 50 staff and furloughed 25 at a time. The total number of employees the employer can now furlough is 25 and it cannot put all 50 employees on the flexible furlough scheme rotating the hours they work.

The details of all furloughed staff must be submitted in one claim.

Amounts recoverable:

  • July 80% up to the £2,500 cap
  • August 80% up to the £2,500 cap although employers must cover national insurance contributions and pension
  • September 70% up to £2,187.50 cap although employers must cover national insurance contributions and pension (and the addition plus NI and pension)
  • October £60%

The retention of records remains important and the Government/HMRC lists the information to be retained and for how long.

It remains to be seen how this works in practice and whether it flexes in the future.

So, on this unchartered road to recovery, there will be opportunities and challenges for employers and employees alike. Here at Leeds Day LLP we have the tools to assist, guide and support you in this. Therefore, if you need any support, now or in the future, please do not hesitate to contact our employment law/ HR specialist Rebecca Ryan (rebecca.ryan@leedsday.co.uk; 01480 442040).

Useful links

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wages-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme



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