End Of The Furlough Scheme
The End Of The Furlough Scheme. The furlough scheme was introduced in March 2020 with the purpose of allowing employers to put some or all of their staff on temporary leave (‘furlough’) during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Initially staff were either furloughed or not but then on 1 July 2020 ‘flexible furlough’, where an employee works some of their hours and is put on furlough for the hours they do not work, was introduced. The furlough scheme was due to end on 31 October 2020 but an 11th hour announcement extended the scheme into 2021. The furlough scheme will now end on 30 September 2021.
Putting someone on furlough included a temporary contractual agreement between the employer and employee and once the agreement was in place the employer could claim the cost of the employees’ wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
When a furlough agreement ends, the employer and employee return to the contractual arrangements that were in place prior to the temporary change, unless a different contractual arrangement is agreed.
To avoid any future confusion when you wish to end a period of furlough and ask an employee to return to work you should give the employee notice in writing.
Your furlough agreement might say how much notice you need to provide. If it does not, there is no minimum legal requirement, but you should provide as much notice as possible.
The template furlough agreements that I provided notified the employee that you would give as much notice as possible. This was because if a working employee became ill you would probably need to recall a furloughed employee at short notice and sometimes with less than 24 hours’ notice.
If your employees have been on furlough for a long time, you should consider:
- the employees wellbeing, including their mental health
- giving your employees time to adjust to being back in work
- offering training or refresher courses
Your ending furlough letter should notify the employee who they should contact if they have any concerns.
Changes After Furlough
The furlough scheme was designed to avoid employers having to make redundancies and then recruit a new workforce once the crisis is over, when using the furlough scheme, the existing workforce will be ready and waiting to resume work. But guaranteeing a return to work was not a condition of the Scheme.
If trading conditions have not improved sufficiently for you to be able to offer work to all your employees when the furlough scheme ends you will need to consider:
- introducing a reduced working week and changing the pre furlough employment contract on either a temporary or permanent basis.
- reducing your headcount through a redundancy process
Template Letter Confirming The End Of The Furlough Scheme
My Template Letter Confirming The End Of The Furlough Scheme is intended for you to use to notify furloughed employees that the scheme is ending and they will be required to return to work. The letter also clarifies that trading conditions may still be subject to fluctuations and in the absence of the furlough scheme the employee may be placed on unpaid leave during quiet periods.
To download the Template Letter Confirming The End Of The Furlough Scheme complete your details below and you will receive an email containing the document: