From 01 July 2020, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS phase 1) closes to new entrants. CJRS phase 2 is launched and brings the new terminology ‘flexible furlough’. This means that employers are able to furlough staff and make a claim under CJRS phase 2, however, the fixed 21-day criterion is removed. Therefore, employers can bring staff back on whatever working pattern suits the needs of the business.
As phase 2 will allow flexible furlough arrangements from 01 July 2020, a new entrant is defined as one who has not been furloughed for a minimum of 21 days prior to this date. Therefore, any furloughed employee reclaims (for claim periods starting on or after 01 July 2020) must comprise employees that were furloughed for the first time on or before 10 June 2020.
In general, the latest date an employee can be furloughed for the first time and for the employer to be eligible for a grant is 10 June 2020.
However, there are two exceptions to this:
Family Leave Returners
The 10 June 2020 deadline would have severely impacted anyone returning from any of the following leave periods:
- Statutory Maternity Leave
- Statutory Adoption Leave
- Statutory Paternity leave
- Statutory Shared Parental Leave, and
- Statutory Parental Bereavement Leave
Where an employer was expecting to furlough (or an individual was expecting to be furloughed), this option would not have been available. Therefore, it was good to see a news story on 09 June 2020 from HM Treasury saying that returners from family-related leave absences would not be affected by the 10 June 2020 deadline.
Family leave returners WILL be able to be furloughed by the employers, as long as the employer has previously furloughed employees and used the scheme to make a reclaim.
Military Leave Returners
The 10 June 2020 deadline would also have meant that anyone returning to employment (or self-employment) from a period of military reservist leave would also have been ineligible. The reason being that they may have been on active duty on that date.
On 15 June 2020, the Chancellor announced that reservist serviceman and servicewomen in the army, navy and airforce returning from a period of service would not be affected by the 10 June 2020 deadline.
Military leave returners WILL be able to be furloughed by the employers, as long as the employer has previously furloughed employees and used the scheme to make a reclaim.
As a general rule, the move to CJRS phase 2 means that anyone who had not been furloughed for a fixed period of 21 days starting on or before 10 June 2020 would not be an eligible employee for reclaims. The employer is free to furlough them (either for a fixed or flexible period), however, the employer would not be able to make a grant reclaim.
Now we have two exemptions from this 10 June 2020 deadline:
- Returners from any family-related leave, and
- Returners from military leave
Although, furlough (fixed or flexible) and reclaims under the revised scheme from 01 July 2020 is only possible if the employer had previously furloughed employees and made claims. Point 3 of the HM Treasury factsheet is clear on that point.