Recently, the government published guidance on the flexible furlough scheme which has been in force since July 1st. Let’s look at the key details.
1. Who is eligible for flexible furlough?
Your employees are eligible if they’d been furloughed for at least three weeks prior to June 30th under the old scheme. The exceptions are where parents return to work after taking maternity, shared parental leave, adoption, paternity or parental bereavement leave.
2. What does the ‘flexible’ in ‘flexible furlough’ mean?
You can bring back previously furloughed employees for any amount of time and on any pattern of work and claim a grant for the hours they don’t work. For example, let’s say your employee usually works five days a week. For the moment, you only need them for two days. You can furlough them for the remaining three days. If business improves, you might, for example, want them to work for three days and be furloughed for two.
3. Limits on how many staff you can furlough
The numbers of employees you can now flexibly furlough can’t be more than the maximum numbers of employees you claimed for under the previous furlough scheme.
4. Claim periods
If you have employees whose furlough spans June and July, you must submit separate claims for each individual month – even if they have been furloughed continuously.
Your claim period is made up from the days you are claiming a grant for. Claim periods starting on or after July 1st should start and end within the same calendar month and must last at least seven days.
You should include all furloughed staff in one claim even if they are paid at different times. If you can, you should match your claim period to the dates you process your payroll.
Something to remember – you can submit a claim up to 14 days before the end of the relevant claim period. But, if the number of days your employees work changes, you must amend the claim next time. If you’ve over-claimed, the process is pretty straightforward. But, if you’ve under-claimed, you’ll need to contact HMRC for help.
Of course, we’ll be delighted to help with this.
5. How do I calculate flexible furlough pay?
If you’re not planning to ask employees to return to work, your calculations won’t change. However, from August 1st, your contribution will increase.
If your staff do return to work part-time, you’ll have to calculate how many hours each employee usually works and offset this against the number of hours for which they’ve been furloughed.
Your first task is to work out if your employee has been working fixed or variable hours. If they’re paid for hourly work, or if they’re not contracted to work a fixed number of hours, then use the variable calculation. Your payroll system should make this straightforward.
Again – if in doubt, talk to us. It’s our job … and we’d love to help!
6. Record keeping
As you’d expect, you must keep a copy of all records. These include –
- for each employee, the amount you claim and the claim period
- the claim reference number
- your calculations
- employees’ usual hours, including any calculations and the actual number of hours they’ve worked.
7. Agreement in writing
When confirming your new furlough arrangement with your employees, you need to put this in writing. There’s currently some confusion as to whether you need separate agreements each time you flex the furlough period, or whether you can cover everything in a single document. Probably the latter, but we’ll be looking into this on your behalf. So again – if you’re unsure, let us know.
Find out more about the government’s flexible furlough scheme.
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