The Government have now published further guidance on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) which includes vital details on how the furloughing scheme - relied on by so many employers - will be wound down between July and the end of October and how the new ‘flexible furlough’ arrangements will operate.
From 1 July 2020, employers will only be able to furlough employees who have already been furloughed for the minimum period of three weeks, meaning that the last date on which employers could furlough employees for the first time was 10 June. Employers will be able to implement ‘flexible furlough’ from 1 July, including part-time arrangements, and the minimum furlough period (currently three consecutive weeks) will no longer apply – flexible furlough agreements can last for any period. The guidance states that the employer will be required to ‘keep a new written agreement’ when implementing flexible furlough, and confirms that the employer will have to pay employees in full for hours worked (with CJRS grants remaining available for normal hours not worked).
The new guidance also sets out the detail of how CJRS grants will be tapered over the next few months, as announced by the Chancellor on 29 May. From 1 August, employers will have to pay employer NI contributions and employer pension contributions, with the CJRS continuing to pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500. From 1 September, employers will also have to pay 10% of wages, with the CJRS paying 70% (capped at £2,187.50); and from 1 October, employers will have to pay 20% of wages, with the CJRS paying 60% (capped at £1,875).
The updated guidance also acknowledges an announcement made by HM Treasury on 9 June that the 10 June cut-off for furloughing employees for the first time will not apply to those returning from family-related leave. Employees returning from maternity, adoption, paternity, shared parental or parental bereavement leave will still be eligible for the furlough scheme even if they have not previously been furloughed by 10 June, provided that the employer has used the furlough scheme for other eligible employees by that date.
From the first announcement of the CJRS in what now seems like an age ago, the Employment Team at Leathes Prior have been working with clients to provide them with real-time, pragmatic and commercial advice as to how they should use the CJRS within their business. If your business now needs assistance with flexible furlough or other employment issues that arise out of the winding down of the CJRS, or for existing clients who need further help, please get in contact with our Employment Team by email or by calling 01603 610911.