Information published by the CIPD last week, may help to explain what the Flexible Furlough Scheme will look like after 1st July. There are some areas which need further clarification by the Government, and we are hoping to see this over the next week.
Only employees who have been furloughed for at least three weeks on or before 30 June under the old scheme can be furloughed after 1 July. The only exceptions to this are where parents return to work after taking maternity, shared parental leave, adoption, paternity or parental bereavement leave.
Duration of Flexible Furlough from 1 July
You’ll be able to bring back previously furloughed employees for any amount of time and on any pattern of work and claim a grant for the hours not worked. For example, if your employee normally works five days a week and you only need them in work for two, you can furlough them for the remaining three days. If business picks up, you might want them to work for three days and be furloughed for two.
The last date anyone could be furloughed for the first time was 10 June. If you furloughed any employee on that date, you’ll be able to move them onto the new scheme immediately from 1 July.
However, it is now clear that if you furlough someone after 10 June, you will have to wait the full three weeks before you can move them onto the new scheme, regardless of whether this ends after 1 July. For example, a previously furloughed employee starting a new furlough period today (19 June) must remain furloughed under the old scheme until at least 10 July. After this date, the employee can be flexibly furloughed for any period.
How many people can you furlough from 1 July?
The numbers of employees you can furlough in any period starting from 1 July can’t exceed the maximum numbers of employees you claimed for under the old scheme – although you don’t include returning parents in this calculation.
This may create some difficulties for employers who have already put in place rotating furlough patterns. For example, if you have divided your 200-strong workforce into two groups of 100 each and rotate them on three-weekly furlough, you won’t be able to put all 200 workers on flexible furlough so that everyone works half a week.
Claim period restrictions
You must submit any claims under the old scheme by 31 July. After 1 July, you can’t submit claims that cross calendar months. This means that if you have staff whose furlough spans June and July, you’ll need to submit separate claims for June and July – even if they have been furloughed continuously.
Your claim period is made up of the days you are claiming a grant for. Claim periods starting on or after 1 July must (usually) start and end within the same calendar month and must last at least seven days. You must include all furloughed staff in one claim even if they are paid at different times and the government recommends that, if you can, you should match your claim period to the dates you process your payroll.
One thing to bear in mind is that you can submit a claim up to 14 days before the end of the relevant claim period. However, if you do this and the number of days your staff work changes, you’ll need to adjust the claim next time. That doesn’t sound too difficult if you’ve over-claimed, but if you’ve under-claimed, you’ll have to contact HMRC for help. The government therefore recommends that you don’t claim until you are sure of the exact number of hours [your staff] will have worked during the claim period.
We will keep you updated when further information becomes available. In the meantime, please contact us if you need help.
Consultant Director – Employment Law