How to manage flexible furlough leave

Back in March 2020, furlough leave was introduced in the UK to help reduce unemployment as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. On July 1st, the Government introduced more flexibility into the scheme to help get employees back to work.

Employers may be finding they need employees back at work – but perhaps not yet the same amount of hours as before the pandemic began. This flexibility allows employers to bring employees back in to work for the time they need them, while they remain on furlough leave for the time they are not needed.

For example, someone working five days a week can be brought back for two days – and stay furloughed for the other three. Unlike the previous furlough scheme, employees can be placed on this flexible scheme for any amount of time.

What to be aware of

As an employer, you must pay the employee their complete wage for the time they work and you cannot claim this back from the Government. However, you are still able to claim 80% of their wages for their furloughed time back (subject to a cap).

You cannot place ‘new’ employees on furlough leave, the last date for that was June 10th. A furloughed employee being placed on the flexible furlough scheme must have been furloughed for at least three weeks before the 30th June. The only exception to this would be parents returning to work following maternity/paternity/shared parental leave.

You must get written agreement from employees when changing their furlough agreement, as you did when first placing them on the furlough scheme.

Other key dates

Currently employers do not have to contribute towards furloughed employees wages, although they are able to top up the 80% the employee receives if they choose to. However, this is set to change as the scheme winds down. Currently, the notable dates to be aware of are:

From August, employers must start making National Insurance and pension contributions.

From September, the Government will only cover 70% of a furloughed employee’s wages and employers will have to pay the additional 10%. This is not optional like the current top-up from 80% is.

From October, the Government contribution will drop to 60% and the remaining 20% must be covered by employers.

October 31st – the furlough scheme ends.

The coronavirus pandemic has had a massive impact on employment law – from furlough leave to flexible working. For more information and guidance, get in touch with the Employline team today.

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