Flexible Furlough and Tapering
There are a number of changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (Scheme) and guidance has been issued.
From 1 July employers can agree (in writing and a copy retained for five years) that an employee can return to work for any amount of time and on any work pattern. Employers can only participate in the amended Scheme if a claim has been made under the original Scheme by 31 July in respect of an employee who has been furloughed for a minimum of three weeks, beginning on or before 10 June. There is an exception to this date for those returning from family-friendly leave.
Helpfully, there is no minimum furlough period for those placed on furlough from 1 July.
The calculations for flexible furlough are not easy but the Government has produced some worked examples.
The Scheme will taper so that employers will bear more of the financial burden. From 1 August 2020 employers will be required to pay employer NICS and mandatory employer pension contributions for furloughed employees. In addition, employers will be required to contribute to salary from 1 September with an increase to that contribution from 1 October. The Scheme will be wound up on 31 October 2020.
You might also want to consider:
- Health and safety in the workplace as employees return, with a risk assessment and protective measures.
- What will happen at the end of furlough. You may have to consider redundancies. This will require a selection process (unless you have a genuine pool of one) and consultation.
- You might find that you receive requests for flexible working, possibly difficult to resist if it has been working successfully for you. A number of requests could be an issue but you don’t have to agree all of them. You might want to take the initiative and introduce homeworking, particularly if this will produce savings (office rental etc).
- Bear in mind we may have a second wave or area specific lockdowns.
The economy will feel stodgy for some time but things will improve.
Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions for us. Our Head of Employment, Iain Jenkins, has been putting together our updates. Please contact him on email@example.com if you require any assistance.