Government publishes guidance on changes to furlough scheme allowing part-time working
Last week the Government published new guidance on the changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (the “furlough scheme”) to allow for part-time working. Whereas previously the furlough scheme did not allow employees to work for their employers at all, the rules taking effect from 1 July 2020 allow employees to return to working part-time for their employers whilst being furloughed for the rest of the time.
The headlines of the guidance are as follows:
- The maximum amount employers can claim for furloughed hours remains the same i.e. the lesser of 80% of salary and £2,500, which is effectively pro-rated according to the number of furloughed hours agreed with the employee, with full pay being paid for the worked hours.
- The grant for pension contributions and NI is based on the pro-rated figures for the furlough pay as set out above.
- For pro-rating purposes, employers must calculate furloughed hours as a proportion of normal working hours. Normal working hours are taken as those hours which applied as at 19 March 2020, when the scheme was first introduced. Note that this calculation only applies to employees who have normal working hours in the first place; for those employees with irregular hours, the calculation is more complicated.
- Flexible furlough is an option rather than a requirement, and employers may wish to keep employees on full-time furlough if they wish.
- It is up to individual employers to agree with the employees concerned how many days per week they work.
- The three-week minimum period of furlough has been removed and there is now no minimum, although the minimum period of furlough leave employers can claim for from HMRC is one week, meaning that it makes sense from an administrative perspective to keep the minimum at one week.
- As was the case when employees were first furloughed, employee consent will need to be obtained to moving to flexible furlough.
- Our recommendation is that any move to flexible furlough is therefore documented by way of a side letter to affected employees, which employees must sign to confirm agreement to the changes.
If you have any queries about flexible furlough or the furlough scheme in general, or you would like help documenting a transition to flexible furlough, please contact one of the Employment team at Kemp Little.
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Lucy Sorell is an employment senior associate
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