How the Flexible Furlough Scheme Works

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme underwent some changes from 1 July. Flexibility has now been introduced, so that potentially, employers can bring back employees on a part time basis, whilst claiming through the JRS for the days not worked. Let's take a look in more detail at how the scheme works.

Flexible furlough: what are the key points?

As of 1 July 2020:

No new furlough applications can be made, unless the employee is returning from statutory parental leave.

There is no longer any minimum furlough period, and employees can be brought back part time for any hours or shift pattern that is agreed between them and the employer. If required, full furlough is still possible.

Employers must cover the cost of any hours worked by furloughed staff. A furlough grant can be claimed to cover the balance between the hours worked and their usual hours.

There is a minimum HMRC claim period of seven calendar days. Claims cannot be made for periods that cross calendar months.

As of 1 August 2020:

Employers are required to contribute towards the cost of furlough payments. This means National Insurance and pension contributions must be made.

Flexible furlough: important considerations

The new scheme stipulates that only those employees already furloughed for a minimum of three weeks on or before 30 June under the previous scheme can be furloughed after 1 July. The only exceptions are where parents are returning from any type of statutory parental leave.

The last date that anyone could be furloughed for the first time was 10 June. So anyone furloughed up to and including that date will be eligible for the new scheme.

There are limits to the numbers of people a business can furlough under the new scheme. The numbers cannot exceed those for which you claimed under the previous scheme, although returning parents are not included when working this out.

Claim periods have to start and end within the same calendar month, and must cover a duration of at least seven days. All furloughed staff must be included in a single claim, even if they are paid at different times. Wherever possible, the government recommends that claim periods match your payroll dates.

You will need a new written agreement to confirm the new furlough arrangement. Record keeping is vital, just in case your claims are checked.

The new rules on claim periods, and the calculations for flexible furlough, are fairly complex. It is therefore advisable to seek guidance from your bookkeeper or accountant to ensure no mistakes are made when making a claim.

For more information on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the government's summary page is a good place to start.

If you are looking for help in making sense of the new Job Retention Scheme rules, or would like to hand the responsibility over to someone in the know, you are welcome to get in touch with the team here at Office Assistants.

So far this year, we have claimed over £765,000 in support for our clients via the government scheme, helping many businesses to better navigate their way through these difficult times.

We look forward to being of assistance.

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