Whether you are an employer or an employee, if you’re using the Job Retention Scheme, then you’ll need to know how the new Flexi-furlough can work and how it might affect you.
Flexi-Furlough for Employers
There are over one million employers in the UK who have furloughed staff during the coronavirus pandemic. It’s been in place to help your business survive the crisis and keep the economy ticking over.
The government have brought in flexible furlough to help you return staff to work in a way that won’t shock your cash flow and leave you needing to make more redundancies than necessary.
From 1 July you can start to bring furloughed staff back to work on a part-time basis while still getting access to some funds from the Job Retention Scheme.
While there is no concrete guidance on how this will work, there is a factsheet available for employers while you wait for further announcements.
Get it in writing
As we have been saying from the start of this crisis and will continue to bang this drum, you will need to get an agreement in writing with your employee.
A simple email is unlikely to cut it should something go wrong and you have a dispute.
And given the complexities of this new flexible element of the furlough scheme, you will need to be crystal clear on what is expected of your staff in terms of hours they work under the Flexi-furlough scheme.
Our pack for employers will cover this and more, giving you the confidence for any future changes to the scheme or employment as a result of coronavirus.
Key Dates for Employers
The Flexi-furlough scheme is only available to employers who have previously furloughed employees. And the deadline for new applications is 30 June.
This means that if you want to furlough an employee for the first time, you need to do so by 10 June. They can then have a full three-week furlough period before you can place them on the Flexi-furlough scheme.
Costs to employers
If you have furloughed staff, then the government is covering 80 per cent of their wages up to £2,500 until the end of August. It is up to you as an employer should you wish to top this up to full wages.
In August, you will need to start paying national insurance and pension contributions for your furloughed employees and the hours the employee works.
In September, the government will contribute 70 per cent up to £2,187.50 per month. As an employer, you will need to contribute up to £312.50 per month and also pay National Insurance and pension contriburions.
Then in October, the government will cover 60 per cent of wages with a cap at £1,875. As an employer, you will cover the additional 20 per cent up to £625, and also pay National Insurance and pension contriburions.
Unless, of course, you are using the flexible part of the scheme. In this instance, you will need to pay 100 per cent of wages for the time that your staff member is working.
Until there is guidance from the government, we recommend that you keep clear records on the number of hours your staff are working when on the Flexi-furlough scheme.
The cap on furlough is going to be reduced proportionally by the amount your employee works. For example, if you recall a member of staff back to work for half their contracted hours, you will be able to claim up to 50 per cent of the Job Retention Scheme.
You will need to have systems in place to manage this. If you need help, do get in touch.
Flexi-Furlough for Employees
If you are an employee and you are told you need to return to work on a part-time basis after 1 July, then you will be entitled to your wages topped up under the Job Retention Scheme if you have been furloughed before 10 June.
You will need to agree in writing to the hours that your employer is asking you to do. And your employer will need to ensure your workplace is safe, following all social distancing guidelines.
Your employer may need to put you on new working hours or shift patterns depending on the needs of the business. They should make this clear to you in writing when you are expected to work.
Refusing to return to work
Employers must make sure it is safe for their staff to return to work. Under the Employment Rights Act, employees cannot be forced to go into work if it puts them at risk of danger.
However, living with someone in an at-risk group and being asked to go into work could lead to grievances being raised. We recommend that in this situation, an agreement is reached that both parties are happy with, but it is very much an area that leaves the employee open to dismissal or the employer at risk of a tribunal.
In either case, we recommend you take advice if you are in this position. You can get in touch here.