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Part time furlough

The government will not make any contribution to the pay for the hours actually worked. We advise that this agreement should be in writing. 

Returning furloughed staff part-time 

Currently, employees on furlough are unable to do any work at all for the employer. The government have announced that from 1 July employers will have greater flexibility about their furloughed staff. This is being called ‘flexible furloughing’ scheme. 

Employers will be able to bring employees back to work on a part-time basis, with the Government continuing to subsidise their pay so that they continue to receive up to 80 per cent of their normal pay to a maximum of £2,500.

This option will only apply to employees who have already been furloughed under the original scheme. As explained above, the last applications under that scheme will have to be made by 30 June – meaning that employees will have to have been placed on furlough by 10 June in order to qualify. 

Full details of the new arrangements are yet to be set out by Government. It is clear however that the employer will need to pay in full for the proportion of a normal working week that an employee will be asked to perform. The CJRS grant will only be made in respect of that part of the week that the employee will not be working. The employer will need to provide details of the employee’s normal working week so that the appropriate amount of CJRS money can be calculated. 

It seems that employers will be given discretion about how this part time working will operate. The employer will decide hours and shift patterns, but when the employee is working then the employer must pay the employee’s normal wages. The government guidance indicates that the employer must also ‘agree’ this work pattern with the employee.

Employees who have been placed on furlough will have agreed that they will not perform any work for their employer. If the furloughed employee is being paid in full – that is,  the employer is topping up the grant under the CJRS so that the employee suffers no loss in pay –  then bringing the employee back on a part-time basis should be relatively straightforward.

But in many cases the parties will have agreed a lower rate of pay for the period of furlough in line with the funding available under the CJRS, so that the employee is only receiving 80% of their usual salary –capped at £2,500 a month – in line with the funding available under the scheme. 

If the employer wants the employee to return to work on a part-time basis, but to continue to be paid less than his or her normal salary, then that will require a fresh contractual agreement. The employee should be asked to work on a part-time basis in return for a salary made up of the employer’s payment for work done at the full rate together with the reduced amount for time not worked in accordance with the CJRS rules. It will be important to stress that the arrangement is temporary and that normal working will resume either when the CJRS ends, or when the employer is ready to bring the employee back full-time.

If an employee is paid by the hour with no guaranteed minimum week, then there is no need for a separate agreement. The employer will be able to ask them to return to work a limited number of hours, in accordance with their contract. The employee will then gain the added benefit of an additional payment from the job retention scheme based on their pay in the previous tax year. However, the government guidance suggests that agreement with the employee is still required.

The government have promised further guidance on 12 June 2020. Please note that as explained above to be eligible for furlough an employee must have already completed a continuous period of three weeks’ furlough before 1 July. This presents employers who have not yet furloughed staff who are required for part of the time with a dilemma. For those employees to be eligible for part time furlough the employees must be put on furlough by 10 June, but they would then be unable to do any work for the employer before the part time arrangements come into effect on 1 July.