Job Retention Scheme – part time furloughing begins

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As announced previously, from 1 July employers using the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) are now allowed to furlough their employees on a part-time basis. Employers can decide when and for what hours their employees work, and can claim under the CJRS to cover the times their employee is not working. The employer will then be responsible for paying their employees’ wages for the time they are working.

This article covers a few of the key points to bear in mind in relation to part-time furloughing.

Eligible employees

From 1 July, only employees that have previously been furloughed under the CJRS for at least a three-week period prior to this date can be claimed for.

In addition, the maximum number of employees an employer can claim for after 1 July is the highest number that have been claimed for in previous months.

Employers will need to make new arrangements in writing with their employees to cover the changes to their working patterns, even if they have been furloughed before. It is not sufficient to furlough them part-time under the previous full-time furlough agreement.

Length of furlough

The required minimum period of furlough leave has been reduced to seven calendar days. It would, therefore, be sensible for employees to plan their furlough arrangements in a weekly pattern.

Making a claim

Claim periods beginning on or after 1 July must start and end in the same calendar month. They must also last at least seven days, unless the period is at the beginning or the end of the month where this may not be possible. A claim period can only be less than seven days if it includes either the first or last day of the month, and a claim was made for the period ending immediately before it.

Claims for periods ending on or before 30 June 2020 must be made by 31 July 2020.

Employers must also ensure they are keeping a record of the usual hours an employee works, as well as the actual hours they worked in each claim period, along with how these have been calculated. These should be calculated in line with HMRC guidance, although as the ICAEW has highlighted, HMRC’s calculation method can sometimes produce some unexpected results. It is therefore important that employers follow HMRC’s guidance closely.

Going forward

From 1 August, the amount of government support under the CJRS will start to decrease, with employers starting to take on more of the cost of paying for their furloughed employees (whether they are full or part time furloughed). The scheme is set to finish entirely by 31 October 2020, and the government has stated that there are no plans to extend it further.