The Furlough Scheme has been extended until March 2021

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) otherwise known as the furlough scheme, will remain open until the 31st March 2021. For claim periods running to January 2021, employees will receive 80% of their usual salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month, hence the scheme is more generous than the scheme running in September and October. The percentage may be reviewed for February and March.

There is no maximum number of employees that employers can claim for. In addition to this, the employer must confirm in writing to the employee that they have been furloughed, and keep a written record for five years. 

Which employees are eligible for the new furlough scheme?

Employers can claim even if they, or the relevant employees had not previously used the CJRS. Furthermore, employees can be furloughed if they are shielding in line with public health guidance (or need to stay at home with someone who is shielding). For those wondering, this doesn’t mean they have to be furloughed before.

In order for your employees to be eligible for the furlough scheme, they must have been employed on the 30th October 2020. You can claim for employees as long as you have made a PAYE RTI submission to HMRC between the 20th March 2020 and 20th October 2020, notifying a payment of earnings for that employee. You may also re-employ staff who were made redundant or stopped working for you if they were on the 23rd September 2020 payroll.

The government has said employees who have previously been furloughed continue to have their reference pay and hours based on the existing furlough calculations (as under the old scheme). Employees who have not previously been furloughed will have a different pay/hours reference period.

  • For those on fixed wages:
    • Their pay is based on 80% of the employee’s wages payable in the last pay period ending on or before the 30th October 2020.
  • For those on variable wages:
    • Their pay is based on 80% of the average payable between the start date of their employment or the 6th April 2020 (whichever is later) and the day before their CJRS extension furlough period begins.

Employees returning from maternity leave need to give the statutory eight weeks’ notice to end maternity leave early in order to be furloughed (and get furlough pay, typically higher than SMP). 

Can employees continue to work?

There are two options with the new furlough scheme:

  • Fully furlough employees – This means the employee cannot do any work for the employer.
  • Flexibly furlough employees – This means employees can work for any amount of time, and any work pattern and claim the grant for the furloughed hours, with reference to hours the employee would usually have worked in that period.

Employers should always discuss these options with their staff in both written and verbal form. In addition to this, you should make any changes to the employment contract by agreement only.

When employees are on the furlough scheme they can take part in training, volunteer for another employer or organisation, and work for another employer (if contractually allowed).

This scheme is continually changing so we would advise you head over to the Government website for any additional help and advice on the new furlough scheme.

Should you require any additional information or HR support, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our multi-award-winning team here!

Image: Shutterstock