FFS – the re-introduction of Furlough in all its forms!

Further to our brief update on Monday 2nd November, after the Boris announcement on Saturday evening, which totally ruined my Strictly Come Dancing viewing, the Government has now made major changes to their proposed way forward and seem to have scrapped the Job Support Scheme, at least for England.

The furlough scheme paying 80% of wages capped at £2,500 per month is going to be in place until 31 March 2021 but the employer contribution (currently employer’s NI and pension) will be reviewed again in January – I would expect reductions to similar levels of late summer.

A few key points for you:

  1. There is no minimum period of furlough, only a minimum claim period of 7 consecutive calendar days, so employers cannot claim every couple of days
  2. You can back date your furlough agreement to 1 November provided you do this by 13 November
  3. Those who are shielding can be furloughed – the above notification says that those who are in the same household as those shielding can also be furloughed although the guidance on shielding now says that those in the same household do not have to shield – so this may just be a cut and paste which will be corrected.
  4. Those who have left your employment since 23 September can be brought back and furloughed although please ensure you think carefully about doing this and what will be paid to them between the date of them leaving and 1 November.
  5. Further details are expected on 10 November
  6. It rather unhelpfully says:

The terms of any agreement must:

  1. reflect the hours the employee has actually worked or not worked over the period of the agreement
  2. allow the employer to satisfy the terms of CJRS so they can make a claim in relation to hours not worked

This rather defeats the object of a flexible furlough scheme where you can adjust the workforce depending on need if you need to set out hours in advance and appears to ask you to be able to predict the future. Hopefully this will be clarified on 10 November.

As before, the employee does not need to agree in writing but needs to be notified in writing. Our advice is to always get this signed or an email acceptance by the employer to avoid an unlawful deduction from wages claim

We are hoping for further clarification by 10th  November to allow us to amend the furlough letter and to get this out to you so that you can send it to employees before 13th. However, if you desperately need something now then we can provide you with a template which assumes you don’t have to set out hours in advance – as this would be ridiculous – what’s flexible about that?!