Changes to the Flexible Furlough Scheme – a guide for employers
The Government has announced details of how the amended Flexible Furlough Scheme will operate from 1st July. Specialist employment lawyer Nick Jones, outlines the key points employers need to be aware of.
Flexible furlough and part-time hours
- Furloughed employees no longer need to avoid doing work for their employer whilst on furlough.
- Employers will now be able to bring back previously furloughed employees on a part-time flexible basis. Employees can work for some of the week and be paid their normal pay for the hours they work, and be furloughed for the rest of their week. The Employer can claim from HMRC for the hours that they employee is furloughed.
- The 3 week minimum furlough period has been removed, but claims should be for a minimum period of one week, unless the claim period starts with the first day of the month, or ends with the last day. Claims cannot straddle different months.
Flexible furlough and ‘usual’ working hours
- Claims can only be made for employees who were furloughed on or before 10th June 2020.
- If claiming for a period of flexible furlough, employers must issue written detail of the flexible furlough arrangement, and keep a copy for 5 years. Changes to the employee’s contract must be agreed in writing.
- As before, the employee is not allowed to do any work for the employer during periods that furlough pay is being claimed.
- In order to claim the employer will need to work out and provide detail to HMRC of the employee’s ‘usual’ working hours and the hours in the claim period that the employee will work.
Flexible furlough claims and payments
- An important point for employers to note is that if claiming for a period of Furlough for any period up to 30th June, employers will only have until 31st July to submit their claims.
- Calculating claims for flexible furlough payments will be tricky and time consuming for employers. HMRC guidance provides several worked examples but employers are advised to seek guidance and advice to ensure that they get their claims right.
- Employers will also have to start contributing toward the cost of the furlough scheme from 1st August, when they will be responsible for payment of the employer’s NI and minimum pension contributions.
- Employers therefore are advised to consider what work they are likely to have over the period to the end of October, and to carefully consider whether flexible furlough is right for their business and its needs in the coming months.