When does the furlough scheme end?
The furlough scheme (also known as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme) is officially set to end on the 30 September 2021.
The scheme has been extended several times due to the ongoing pandemic and need to support businesses, but it is not expected to continue to operate any further than the 30 September 2021 given that all businesses have now been able to reopen, and most COVID-19 restrictions have been eased. Although there are calls for targeted support for some industries (such as aviation) which continue to be affected by the pandemic, but it remains to be seen if something like this will be operated.
Can your business continue to claim for furlough during September?
Yes, whilst the scheme is set to end on the 30 September you can still have employees on furlough (either full time or on flexible furlough) up until this point and claim for contributions towards the costs of the furloughed employees’ wages.
In September the furlough scheme operates as follows:
- A Government grant of 60% (up to a maximum of £1,875) of wages for furloughed employees (for hours not worked)
- As an employer you will need to pay employer national insurance and pension contributions
- As an employer you will need to contribute 20% of wages for hours not worked (up to £625)
- This means employees who are furloughed will receive 80% of wages for hours not worked up to £2,500 for the month
If you plan to make a claim for furlough payments for the month of September, then you will need to ensure that you submit your claim by the 14 October with any amendments made by 28 October 2021.
Managing the return to work for furloughed staff
Many businesses may still be making use of the furlough scheme and have employees who are either on furlough on a full-time basis, or who are flexibly furloughed.
Whatever situation your business finds itself in, with the scheme coming to an end later this month you will need to give sufficient thought to the return to work for those who have bene furloughed.
Giving notice to return from furlough
Whilst there is no specific set amount of notice you need to give an employee before asking them to return from furlough, it is generally agreed that it is best to discuss your plans about ending their furlough as soon as possible. If possible, provide staff with written notice that their furlough is coming to an end.
Be appreciative that some employees may have been away from the workplace for a long time so may require extra support upon their return.
Having a return-to-work process
Whilst many COVID restrictions have eased, the risk of catching COVID-19 is still around. So, managing the return to the workplace and ensuring that this is done in a way that is safe and reassuring for staff will be vital.
You’ll want to be specific about how often you expect staff to be in the workplace – can you offer flexible working and if so, how will this look? Do staff need to come in 2,3 or 4 days a week for example.
Ensure you have carried out a COVID-19 risk assessment (in addition to your normal assessments) and acted on any of the risks identified. Evidence the measures you have in place to keep staff safe. Listen to and address any concerns from your employees.
Managing holiday accrued whilst on furlough
Employees continue to have the right to accrue holiday during furlough. According to gov.uk: Workers who have been placed on furlough continue to accrue statutory holiday entitlements, and any additional holiday provided for under their employment contract.
As a business you may need to find a way to manage the impact of accrued holiday. With many businesses reporting staff shortages due to staff isolating or having COVID-19, having staff who also have holiday to take which has been accrued whilst on furlough could create additional demands on business operations. You may need to take a more structured approach to how staff book holiday to enable you to manage your available workforce for example.
It’s important to be aware of your responsibilities as an employer to those employees who have been furloughed and to manage the return to work safely. Don’t neglect your insurance needs at this time either – Anthony Jones works across the full range of business insurance products so if you have any questions about a current policy or future requirements don’t hesitate to get in touch with us on 020 8290 9080 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.