We now know that from the 1st of July 2020, an element of flexibility will be introduced to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Last week further details on how this will work were released, including all of the new rules. The key points of the new rules are set out below.
- You may no longer furlough any new people, including staff that have been employed for longer than the scheme’s length. You may also only claim for those who have been furloughed already for a minimum period of 3 consecutive weeks between 1 March and 30 June.
- There is one exception however, with employees returning from family friendly leave after 10 June (such as maternity/paternity but also including parental bereavement leave). They may still be furloughed, providing that the employer has made a furlough claim for any other employee in the organisation, the family leave started before 10 June and the employee was on a RTI submission on/before 19 March 2020.
- One of the main points to be aware of and prepared for is the fact that the scheme payments will be reducing over a period of time until they are stopped on 31 October 2020. For the full payment reduction schedule please click here.
- The earliest you may apply for furlough grants relating to July is 1 July and no sooner.
- You may also no longer submit claims that cross calendars. With the minimum claim period being set at 7 days.
- You may continue to completely furlough employees if you wish. This could be where you simply don’t have the work yet. This is also appropriate for those who are shielding, self-isolating or who have to care for others.
- As before, any fully furloughed employee may not take up any work from the employer but they may still seek other employment which can be actioned during furlough from their original employment.
- After you have claimed you must now tell your employees that you have done so and that they need not take any more action.
- If an error is made that leads to an over-claimed amount, you must repay this to HMRC and this can be done as part of your next claim. This is useful as it may be easy to make a mistake as the scheme changes monthly.
How flexible furlough might work:
- You may bring employees to work for any amount of time, and any shift pattern.
- The minimum 3 week period will no longer apply, except for those starting a new furlough period before 1 July, when it must be for a minimum of 3 weeks.
- Flexible furlough agreements can last for any amount of time and employees may be entered and removed from the scheme more than once.
- You will be able to claim for any hours the flexibility furloughed employees do not work, compared to usual hours they would have worked throughout that period.
- You must create an agreed flexible furlough arrangement with the employee and keep this in writing.
- An accurate record of how many hours were worked by each employee and the hours they were furloughed must be kept, this is crucial for making a claim.
- A fair way of bringing back employees must be decided, looking at the resources you need and who offers these.
- All relevant records must be kept for 5 years.