With the escalation of the lockdown measures and the still vague future we find ourselves in, whether you’re an employee expecting to be furloughed or an employer questioning whether to furlough your staff, needing to be up to date on the information surrounding the job retention scheme is more crucial than ever.

What does furlough mean?

The ‘Furlough’ scheme was first introduced in March 2020 to assist businesses to keep afloat in the unreliable economic climate caused by COVID-19 where the government promised to pay – what was initially – 80% of employees’ wages to assist businesses.

This meant that staff could be kept in employment whilst the business didn’t have to be out of pocket, especially where workloads were heavily decreasing and the usual number of staff were not required.

With initial plans to bring the scheme to an end last year, what is the situation now?

Furlough 2021

The government has now extended the furlough scheme until the end of April 2021. They have also, again, opened up the scheme to all employees of all businesses, big and small, to sign up. This is a change from the previous position where only those previously furloughed could take advantage of the scheme during the first extension.

So, even if you did not furlough any employees during the first national lockdown, this means you are able to do so this time round.

Who is eligible?

Though the scheme is primarily to protect the lessening work levels of businesses where the usual number of employees are no longer required, it also protects businesses where employees are unable to work for other reasons e.g. persons who are clinically vulnerable or those who have caring responsibilities.

As long as an employee was added onto the payroll by the 30th October 2020 then they will be eligible to be furloughed.

How do I apply?

As an employer, before you can apply for the scheme, you will need to ensure you have received written consent from any and all employees you wish to furlough. This is because, the scheme essentially varies their contract, and this cannot be done without their approval.

Once this has been dealt with you simply need to contact HMRC with details of each employee and the hours you will be claiming for each. They will likely require a copy of the consent from each employee as proof.

Frequently Asked Furlough Questions

Can I furlough my staff on a part-time basis?

YES, where the employer requires it as part of their business, an employee can be furloughed part-time (though it must be considered that the minimum furlough period is 7 days). The employer will also still need to account for the salary of the employee during their working hours in full, which includes both any National Insurance contribution and pension requirements.

How much will the government pay for me?

The government has confirmed that they will assist to pay 80% of an employee’s salary up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. This means even if your salary is higher than this, this is the maximum you will receive if put on the furlough scheme.

Can I work somewhere else whilst on furlough?

YES, as long as your contract allows you to do so or if you have express permission from your employer, you are able to work elsewhere whilst on furlough. However, it would be advised that you confirm the detail with your employer in full before going ahead to ensure both parties know their responsibilities and obligations.

We have helped successfully support many employers since the introduction of furlough in March 2020. Plain English, prompt, and transparent legal advice for businesses is now more important than ever.

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