New Furlough Guidance
Posted on 18th June 2020 at 15:07
The Flexible Furlough Scheme guidance is finally here in all it's glory, and there is no point pretending otherwise... it is COMPLICATED.
The actual principle of flexibly furloughing is fairly straightforward. The claims are where it starts to get pretty tricky.
Speaking of claims, please make sure that you read the info included in the following link - https://www.gov.uk/guidance/steps-to-take-before-calculating-your-claim-using-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme - about claim periods so that you are clear what you can claim and when.
Below are some key points that you should note:
1. Claims for furlough periods (the original furlough scheme) ending 30 June must be submitted by 31 July at the latest
2. Flexible Furlough is an amendment to the original furlough scheme so many of the current requirements & guidance remain in effect
3. The decision on furloughing still remains that of the employer and is not the choice of the employee – although of course discussion to find a good outcome for all is recommended
4. It is still permissible to fully furlough those who are shielding or with childcare needs
5. Working from home is still a preferred option wherever appropriate and possible
6. From 1 July 2020 there is no longer a requirement for furlough periods to be a minimum of three weeks
7. BUT if you want to return a previously furloughed employee to furlough any time between now & 1 July they must still complete three weeks full furlough in order for you to be able to claim under current rules – after which they could be flexibly furloughed - read the guidance on claiming in this case as you need to make separate claims to cover June & July
8. The maximum number of employees you can claim for in any single claim period starting from 1 July cannot exceed the maximum number of employees you claimed for previously in any claim period up to 30 June
9. There is one exception to this if you have employees returning from parental leave after 1 July which may increase the numbers of employees you then have on furlough https://www.gov.uk/government/news/parents-returning-to-work-after-extended-leave-eligible-for-furlough
10. There will be no minimum furlough period for the employee but claim periods starting on or after 1 July must start and end within the same calendar month and must last at least seven days unless you’re claiming for the first few days or the last few days in a month (read the guidance – this is just one area where it gets complicated!)
11. From 1 July you will be able to furlough employees (remember – this only applies to those that have previously been furloughed for a minimum of three weeks) for any number of days in any number of weeks
12. From 1 July employees are no longer forbidden from doing any work for the employer, but can work for some of the week and be furloughed for the rest, in proportions decided between employee and employer - they cannot of course do any work for you in the time in any claim period you are claiming furlough pay for them!
13. Employees will receive 100% normal pay for time worked but continue to receive 80% pay (or more if that’s what you agree with your staff) for furloughed periods – this is still subject to the £2.5k maximum and again this needs careful reading of the guidance
14. If you pay your employees NMW then remember that the rates went up in April 2020 – whilst furlough pay was based on the 2019 rates, any hours worked under flexible furlough scheme should be paid at the new 2020 rates – payroll calculations are going to be “interesting…”
15. You can flexibly furlough employees more than once so if any employees come back full time and are not in your claim one month they could be flexibly furloughed in a later month (subject to maximum numbers of employees being furloughed in any one claim period) – we think this means therefore that rotation is still possible
16. You can still have employees fully furloughed if you do not have enough work
17. It will still be necessary to have a furlough agreement in place with your employees – of course there is the previous furlough agreement in place already but we suggest it would be wise to issue at least an amendment that sets out how you intend to use the flexible scheme to those affected
18. We’d recommend being in contact with all furloughed employees to explain what you are planning
19. Don’t forget to keep copies of all furlough leave agreements for five years
20. For each claim period you will need a record of:
- the number of usual hours your employee would normally work in the claim period
- the number of hours your employee has or will work in the claim period
- of the number of hours your employee has been furloughed in the claim period
21. To calculate the normal working hours for those with fixed hours/pay, you refer to the number of hours worked in the last pay period before 19 March 2020. To calculate the normal working hours for those with variable pay, you take the higher of (a) the average number of hours worked in a pay period in the tax year 2019 to 2020 or (b) the corresponding calendar period in the previous year
22. With this increased flexibility you may wish to talk to employees about whether or not it is still acceptable for them to have any other form of employment which they may have done whilst fully furloughed
23. The same guidance is in effect regarding taking holiday whilst furloughed although we think this may be more complicated to work out when flexibly furloughing! https://www.gov.uk/guidance/holiday-entitlement-and-pay-during-coronavirus-covid-19#taking-holiday
24. The same rules regarding termination of employment, redundancy, notice periods and notice pay are still effective
25. The same rules regarding sickness absence & SSP are still effective regarding both sickness and isolation – also there are the test & trace considerations to be aware of.
We do recommend that you read the guidance for yourself and have attached some useful links for you below.
- Check if you can claim https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme
- Check which employees you can claim for https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-which-employees-you-can-put-on-furlough-to-use-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme
- Steps to take before calculating your claim using the CJRS https://www.gov.uk/guidance/steps-to-take-before-calculating-your-claim-using-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme
- Calculate how much you should claim https://www.gov.uk/guidance/calculate-how-much-you-can-claim-using-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme
In the following link, there are a lot of worked examples that may help with calculating the furlough pay and claims:
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch with one of us, and we will do our best to help you.
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