What do the new flexible furlough rules mean for your business

HMRC has now issued its updated Guidance on the next phase of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme effective from 1 July 2020, including the key change of flexible furloughing. It is now clear that the ability to furlough staff from 1 July will apply to any member of staff who had been furloughed for any minimum 3-week period up to 30 June (with exceptions for those on shared parental leave). 

This on the face of it suggests employers have the ability to record as fully furloughed or, within the new category of flexible furloughed, any employees previously furloughed. However, those who have had employees rolling on and off furlough leave so far should beware. The number of furloughed employees an employer can claim for in any single claim period starting from 1 July cannot exceed the maximum number of employees the employer claimed for under any one claim ending by 30 June.

Carolyn Brown Employment Legal Partner at RSM said: ‘This is likely to preclude employers spreading the available work on a flexible furloughed basis across as many of its previously furloughed employees as might work operationally over the remainder of the scheme period to keep them closely involved in the business and support reopening. Instead we are likely to see staff who are fully furloughed in rotation month by month.’

Susan Ball Employer Solutions Partner at RSM said: ‘There is a short window of opportunity for employers of weekly paid staff to weigh the benefits for future flexible furloughing of staff by saving up their weekly paid staff claims to make one higher numbers composite claim at the end of June against the cashflow challenges that the resulting delay in receipt of grant claim funds may bring to its business.’