Starting and ending furlough
From 1 July 2020, a furloughed employee or worker can agree with their employer to be put on 'flexible furlough'. This means they can work some of their usual hours and be put on furlough for the hours they do not work.
An employer can make a flexible furlough claim through HMRC’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme if they’ve already claimed before and the employee or worker was put on furlough:
- before 10 June 2020
- for a minimum of 3 weeks ending on or before 30 June 2020
Exceptions include if someone has been on maternity, paternity, adoption, shared parental or parental bereavement leave and is returning to work after 10 June 2020.
To find out more about claiming for flexible furlough, see:
Flexible furlough agreements
Any new furlough arrangements should be agreed between the employer, employee or worker and be put in writing.
- keep the agreement for 5 years
- keep a written record of how many hours someone works and how many hours they’re furloughed (not working)
Putting someone on furlough
Employers can only put someone on furlough for the first time if they’ve returned to work after 10 June 2020 from:
- maternity, paternity, adoption, shared parental or parental bereavement leave
- service as a military reservist
Employers must select people for furlough in a fair way to avoid any discrimination.
- get agreement in writing and be clear how much the employee or worker will get paid during their furlough
- keep furloughed workers on the employer's payroll and continue their employment contracts
If someone disagrees with their employer's decision about being selected for furlough or how much they'll get paid, they should talk to their employer and try to come to an agreement.
Any furlough agreements should be in writing. It's a good idea to include:
- the date furlough starts
- how much the furloughed worker will be paid
- when the furlough will be reviewed
- how to keep in contact during furlough
Furlough can be extended by going through the process of putting someone on furlough again. Any agreement to extend should be put in writing.
Employers should regularly review furlough agreements to see if staff can be put on flexible furlough or return to work full time.
It can help employers to consider:
- which job roles and skills are needed in the workplace
- if all furloughed staff are needed back at the same time
- if any staff might be kept on furlough because they're temporarily unable to work, for example if they’re caring for someone or are shielding
To end furlough, employers should give staff notice in writing.
There's no minimum notice period for furlough, but employers should:
- talk to staff about any plans to end furlough as early as possible
- encourage staff to raise any concerns or problems about returning to work
Changing an employment contract
If an employer cannot reach an agreement with an employee or worker, they may decide they need to change the written terms in their contract.
If there are more than 20 people affected, employers will need to consult staff representatives ('collectively consult').