“That Friday feeling” has been redefined during this pandemic. Pre Covid-19, it was a feeling of kicking back and easing ourselves into the weekend. Now it seems to be characterised by an anxious wait for new Government guidance with a vain hope it will be published at a reasonable working hour. And so it was with the Government guidance on the new flexible furlough arrangements, published at 9.30 pm on Friday 12 June!

The three key guidance documents can be found here:

And their essential ingredients are as follows;

  • Post 1 July, employers can only make claims for employees who have been previously furloughed for a minimum of three weeks at any time between 1 March and 30 June 2020. The last date for “enrolling” employees on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) was 10 June 2020.
  • The only exemption to this is for employees returning from statutory parental leave (maternity, paternity, adoption, shared parental leave and parental bereavement leave). Employees who started their statutory parental leave period before 10 June and returned after 10 June and were on their employer’s payroll on or before 19 March 2020 can still be furloughed after 10 June 2020 for the first time. 
  • Post 1 July, employers can furlough employees on a flexible basis “for any amount of time and any shift pattern” whilst still being able to claim under the CJRS for hours not worked. This is provided that these employees were furloughed for three consecutive weeks at any time between 1 March 2020 and 30 June 2020. Employers must pay the employee for the hours worked but the non-working hours can be reclaimed under the CJRS.
  • Where necessary, employees who had been furloughed for 3 consecutive weeks before 1 July can still be fully furloughed after 1 July 2020, there is no requirement to flexibly furlough.  The cost, however, to the employer will start to rise from 1 August 2020 as outlined in our previous ebriefing.
  •  Employers must agree the flexible furlough arrangements with the employee and retain a copy of this written agreement. The employee guidance notes that that employer must “agree this [flexible furlough arrangements] with you”. This differs from full furlough agreements where the employee guidance notes that “this [furlough agreement] must be confirmed to you”. Practically speaking this makes sense; an employer will need to know that an employee is aware of which days/shifts they are required to work and has agreed to this pattern.  Contrast this with a full-time furlough agreement where the requirement is simply not to attend work. 
  • The number of furloughed employees an employer can claim for in any one single claim under the CJRS post 1 July cannot exceed the maximum number claimed in any one single claim between 1 March and 30 June 2020. For example, any employer who made claims in April, May and June of 20, 40 and 25 employees respectively cannot claim for any more than 40 employees in any one claim period from 1 July. 
  • Flexible furlough agreements can last for any period of time as the 3-week minimum period has been removed. The minimum claim period is now 7 calendar days. 

This information was current and correct at the time of publication on 15 June. 

For more information

For further information please contact Matthew Wort.