July 1, 2020

As businesses start to reopen, the Government has now introduced more flexibility to the furlough leave scheme, allowing employees on furlough leave to be brought back into work part-time from July 1st.

Furlough leave was introduced in the UK back in March 2020 to help reduce the number of job losses expected as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. It was aimed at businesses that were facing a reduction in the amount of work available for employees. The previous scheme allowed employers to ‘furlough’ employees, meaning they would complete no work for the employer but remain an employee and still be paid at least 80% of their wages (capped at £2,500 a month).This new flexibility allows employers to bring employees back in to work for the time they need them, while they remain on furlough leave for the time they are not needed.

For example, an employee contracted to work full-time/five days a week could be brought back for three days – and remain furloughed for the remaining two days.

Flexible furlough rules employers should know

Employees must be paid their complete wage for the time they work, an as an employer you cannot claim this back from the Government. You are still able to claim the 80% of their wages for their furloughed time back, as you could previously.

A furloughed employee being placed on the flexible furlough scheme must have been furloughed for at least three weeks before the 30th June. People who have not been furloughed previously cannot be placed on the new scheme, the last date for that was June 10th – parents returning to work following maternity/paternity/shared parental leave being the only exception to this.

To change an employee’s furlough agreement, you must get their written agreement – as you did when first placing them on the furlough scheme.

Other key dates for furlough leave changes

Currently employers do not have to contribute towards furloughed employees wages, although they are able to top up the 80% the employee receives if they choose to. However, this is set to change as the scheme winds down. Currently, the notable dates to be aware of are:

August: employers must start making National Insurance and pension contributions.

September: the Government will only cover 70% of a furloughed employee’s wages and employers will have to pay the additional 10%. This is not optional like the current top-up from 80% is.

October: the Government contribution will drop to 60% and the remaining 20% must be covered by employers.

October 31st: the furlough scheme ends.

Should any of these dates or any of the rules around furlough leave change, the employment team at Terry Jones Solicitors will keep you updated.

The coronavirus pandemic has had a massive impact on employment law – from furlough leave to flexible working. If you’re unsure of anything, get in touch today.

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