Job Retention scheme – Flexible Furlough

As of July 1, 2020, the Job Retention Scheme transitioned into the Flexible Furlough scheme, granting employers greater flexibility.

An employer’s dilemma

In short, businesses did welcome the original scheme. Moreover, it did achieve its objective of safeguarding jobs. In many ways, though, it was very restricting. Staff were subject to furlough – or they were not. Those on furlough couldn’t carry out any work for their employer. Put that together with serious consequences for anyone found to be misusing the scheme and it was rather punitive.

For many businesses, this gave rise to many concerns and questions.

A significant challenge for many of our customers was that their businesses didn’t have sufficient full-time work for employees. However, there was a need for them on a part-time basis. Unfortunately, the rules didn’t allow for this.This meant employers had a tough predicament over whether they should:

  • continue to employ staff who were not necessary at full capacity, or;
  • furlough them and run the risk of letting customers down.

Recognising this, the government introduced the new flexible furlough scheme.

What are the key differences?

The clue is quite literally in the title. With the updated scheme, flexibility was introduced, allowing employees to work part-time over a minimum furlough period of 7 days. It was a significant change from the previous 3-week requirement. The increased flexibility is welcomed by businesses, enabling them to manage staffing needs more efficiently by putting employees on and off the scheme as required.

Staff will receive 100% of their pay for hours that they work and for the remaining time, they receive 80% of their salary, up to £2500 per month. The business can then recover this as a grant from the Government as before. If you’re interested in exploring comprehensive HR packages that suit your business needs, check out our HR Packages designed to provide tailored solutions.

Some key points to mention here:

  • Staff were eligible for flexible furlough if previously on furlough.
  • Employers must retain furlough records for 5 years.
  • Government contributions decreased from August, but employees received 80% minimum pay.
  • It’s essential to note that the Job Retention Scheme concluded on October 30, 2020.

Employees who are asked to work under this scheme are unable to unreasonably refuse, given they are under contract with their employer. Businesses have, however, been asked to be flexible and understand where possible, particularly where employees have commitments to family members or childcare issues. The normal summer school holiday period is approaching so employees should be prepared to utilise the arrangements for childcare that they normally would and inform their employers immediately if they foresee any issues with this.

Zero-hours workers could decline work offers. However, they will not be paid for that work, in the normal way. Given the evolving business landscape, it’s crucial for employers to stay informed about any recent updates or changes to government support schemes. Consult with our experts at People Matters HR for the latest insights tailored to your business needs. If you have specific questions or need personalised guidance regarding the Flexible Furlough Scheme, reach out to People Matters HR. We’re here to help businesses navigate these challenging times.

Award-winning People Matters HR are one of the North West’s leading consultancies offering a fresh new approach to managing HR in the SME market. The company was founded in 2011 by Niel Cope, to provide businesses across the region with a bespoke, Director-level outsourced HR solution at a fraction of the cost, allowing customers to create strong leaders, engaged teams and a better ROI. The impressive client list includes: UAP Limited, Eventura, Rowe Hankins Ltd, Z-arts, and Freedom Logistics.