In our last blog, we looked at the issue of easing your people back into work in a way that considers their expectations as well as yours. In the last few months, you may have been bringing your employees back to work on a part-time basis, taking advantage of the government’s flexible furlough scheme. Recently, the government published guidance on the practice of flexible furloughing. 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.
5. How do I calculate flexible furlough pay?
If you’re not planning to immediately 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.
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. Whether or not you plan to ‘flex’ the arrangement (i.e. amend the number of days worked), a single document will suffice.
If you’re in any doubt about flexible furloughing, why not call us? We’ll be delighted to advise on every aspect.
Remember - we’re here to help.
For straight-talking HR advice - 01604 763494
Or email - info@GravitasHR.co.uk