29 June 2020

Preparing for changes to the furlough scheme

Many people have been at home on the furlough scheme since it was launched in March to help support businesses which had to temporarily close or suspend some business activities due to the Coronavirus pandemic. However, the scheme is changing significantly this week.

At the end of June the government announced details of key changes to the scheme, including the option to introduce flexible furlough, which starts on Wednesday this week (1 July). Companies which had employees at home on furlough are allowed to bring them back to work part-time to enable the business to restart gradually.

Businesses can bring staff back to work for any chosen amount of time or shift pattern from 1 July, but the company has to pay for the hours worked, while the government grant will continue to be paid to the company for the hours still not being worked.

This allows businesses a lot more flexibility as they start to re-open, without impacting the pay for the workforce. Any changes to employees working hours should be communicated clearly to avoid causing anxiety or stress to those returning to the workplace.

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It’s also important to make sure that all employees know what is expected of them for any return to work in terms of changes to conditions and processes which might have to be put into place. There will be many HR issues and employment law considerations for companies bringing people back to work.