The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme was set up to enable businesses to retain staff during the Coronavirus Pandemic. Now, as lockdown lifts slightly, many employers are asking if they can take employees off furlough.
For many businesses that were either forced to close or suffered financial hardship, the Job Retention Scheme has been a lifeline.
For many individuals, it has ensured they can continue to put food on the table and pay their bills.
Many businesses owners are now thinking of getting their business back on track. For some that might mean moving back into their premises. For others, it might be marketing their business to get new customers.
Either way, many employers are wondering if they can take employees off furlough and how that might impact their grant.
In this article, we will look at how you can bring your employees off furlough without breaking the rules of the Job Retention Scheme or compromising the health of your staff and customers.
How Do I Bring Staff Back Off Furlough?
If you are ready to bring your staff back off furlough you should first be sure the working environment will be safe.
If they are going to work from home this might be quite straight forward.
As a minimum you will need to:
- Conduct a risk assessment of their working environment
- Review your data protection and health and safety policies
- Organise any technical equipment your staff might need and have it all PAT tested
- Agree on expectations and methods of communication with your team
- Set a date for return from furlough and confirm it in writing
- Inform payroll so claims are not erroneously made
You might decide you also want to:
- Discuss any concerns your staff might have about working from home
- Negotiate working patterns to fit in with homeschooling children and other caring commitments
- Set up task management processes
Bringing staff back to your premises is trickier, as you must comply with social distancing rules and must not open until the government allow it.
The CIPD recommend staff are only brought back to a premises if it is essential and safe.
Bringing Staff Back Off Furlough Temporarily
Some businesses find that they need the specialist skills or knowledge of a certain member of staff for a short period. In these instances, it is useful to be able to bring staff off furlough for a short period.
This is permitted as long as they are furloughed for no less than three weeks at a time. So, for example, you could bring a team member back for a day but they must be re-furloughed for a further three weeks at least before you bring them back again.
You must also be sure you do not claim for the time they were working but should pay their usual salary instead.
You should write to your employee and inform them of the dates they will be brought back from furlough.
Part Time Furlough
From 1st July you will be able to take employees off furlough on a part time basis.
This might mean having your staff work a few days a week and being furloughed the rest of the time.
This gives employers the flexibility to begin providing services or selling goods without the pressure of needing to be as busy as before the pandemic.
The Government will announce arrangements for part time furlough on 12 June 2020.The CIPD suggests that employers may be asked to administer their claims for part-time furlough to the Job Retention Scheme by:
- Calculating the claim based on the hours the employees have not worked in comparison to the hours they would usually work in the claim period.
- Report the number of hours worked
- Report the usual hours the employee would work under normal circumstances in the claim period.
For the hours the employee is furloughed, you will still be able claim up to 80% of their salary (up to £2500 per employee, per month), plus their NI and pension contributions. Only employees who had been furloughed by 10th June will be eligible.,
There is more information here.
Looking For More Help?
HMRC has very clearly reserved the right to audit all furlough claims made. It is important, therefore, that you seek appropriate HR advice before taking employees off furlough, or indeed at any point during your interaction with the Job Retention Scheme.
Metis HR provide expert, straight forward advice to employees on all manner of topics, including Coronavirus related HR issues.
We also provide outsourced HR services, so you can get on with running your business without having to worry about your HR function too.
You can contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone 01706 565 332. We are happy to help!