What is flexible furlough?
From 1st July, you’ll have the flexibility to bring previously furloughed employees back to work part time, you can decide the hours and shift patterns they work to suit the needs of your business – you’ll pay their wages for the time they’re in work and can apply for a scheme grant to cover any of their normal hours they are still furloughed for. Read on to ensure you comply with the new scheme rules.
Isn’t this just an extension of the current scheme?
Whilst technically it may feel like this is just an extension of revised version of the initial furlough scheme, the flexible furlough scheme is a new scheme with a new statutory framework, and there are a few aspects of it to be aware of.
Can I furlough someone for the first time?
In simple terms no. The furlough scheme isn’t now available to anyone who hadn’t been furloughed for 3 weeks by 30th June, so you will only be able to claim for employees under the new scheme if they have been furloughed for a full three-week period at any time before the end of June. The exception is staff returning from maternity of adoption leave who can still be furloughed for the first time.
How do I bring staff back part time?
Agree part time working hours with staff, and then most importantly the agreed part time working hours must be confirmed in writing with staff as a variation of the terms of their employment. The original furlough agreement or correspondence with staff will not be sufficient to qualify for the grant under the new scheme. The scheme rules are clear that a new agreement to vary terms and conditions of employment must be in place.
What if staff refuse to come back part time?
The decision to furlough staff, keep them on furlough and when to end furlough is completely a matter for the employer. It is not a decision to be made by employees. There are some practical issues relating to childcare and some other matters, and also some potential issues moving to part time furlough where an employee isn’t prepared to agree the further temporary variation of terms of employment. Some of these issues are complex and require professional advice on a case by case basis. If in doubt please speak with your professional advisor.
Can I leave furloughed staff on full time furlough?
Yes. If you have staff who were furloughed on the original furlough scheme, then they can remain on full time furlough after the 1st July 2020 if you still have no work for them. Be aware of course that as the scheme moves forward employers begin to make contributions towards national insurance and employee wages until the scheme ends in October 2020.