Frequently Asked Questions: COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

Update on 19th June 2020

All of our advice is based on the evolving Government guidance made available to date and is subject to change pending further revised guidance or any legislative update.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (‘CJRS’)

Last week, as expected, the Government released new guidance which sets out the rules of the next phase of the CJRS. We are led to believe that a further Treasury Direction will also be issued in due course but for now, it seems only Government guidance is available which, of course, is limited and subject to (regular) changes.

The link to the guidance can be found below but we have set out the key changes here:

  • The first phase of the CJRS closes to new entrants from 30th June 2020. The second phase of the CJRS will open from 1st July but will only be available to employees that you have furloughed for a full 3-week period prior to 30 June and for whom you have successfully claimed the grant.
  • You have until 31st July 2020 to make any claims in respect of the period to 30th June 2020.
  • Flexible furlough (see below) is possible from 1st July 2020.
  • From 1st July, the number of employees you can claim for in any claim period under the second phase of the CJRS cannot exceed the maximum number you have claimed for under any previous claim under the first phase of the CJRS (please see further FAQ on this below). An example of this can be found within the guidance here.
  • From 1st August 2020, the amount of the CJRS grant reduces on a tapering basis, with employers required to contribute towards any furlough costs. Despite the reduction in the ‘grant’, furloughed employees will continue to receive 80% of their normal wages or salary, subject to the cap of £2,500.
  • The CJRS will end on 31st October 2020, but it is expected (although not definitively known) that ‘run-off’ claims, for the second phase will be possible for a period after 31st

When can we submit claims for July?

You can make claims for periods in July from 1st July 2020.

Is there a cut-off date for claims under the current version of the scheme?

The current version of the scheme covers periods up to 30th June 2020 only. All claims for periods to that date must be submitted by 31st July 2020.

What does flexible furlough mean?

An employee can do some work, say, on a part-time basis and be on furlough for the remainder of their usual hours that they do not work at the same time. It is applicable from 1st July 2020.

What records will I need to keep and for how long?

You will need to keep the following records for 6 years for each claim period:

  • The usual hours the employee would have worked in the claim period;
  • The actual hours the employee worked in the claim period;
  • Calculations pertaining to the claim;
  • Written flexible furlough agreement with the employee;
  • The number of furloughed hours in the claim period.

Will we need a new furlough agreement with each employee when placing an employee on flexible furlough?

Yes, you will, in most cases, need a new agreement with each employee if you are intending to place an employee on flexible furlough, particularly if the effect is to amend the terms and conditions of employment.

Is there a limit in terms of the number of hours an employee can work and be furloughed concurrently?

Under the second phase of the scheme, you can bring back to work employees for any amount of time or work pattern whilst at the same time being able to claim for the hours not worked and for which the employee is furloughed.

Can I fully furlough employees as well as flexible furlough?

Yes. As it stands there is no indication that you are restricted to either fully furlough or flexi-furlough employees and a combination will be acceptable.

I have 100 employees with whom I have been operating a furlough rota. Half of my employees have been working one three-week period with the other half being on furlough. Can I claim flexible furlough payments for all of them if I brought all of them back to work?

No. The revised guidance suggests that you can only claim for fifty employees at a time except where any maternity, shared parental, adoption, paternity or parental bereavement (‘Special leave’) or exceptionally if certain employees transfer under TUPE or following a change in ownership. Contact us to discuss further if you believe that any of these exceptions are likely to apply.

How long will the revised version of the scheme be in place?

The scheme rules will change again from 1st August 2020. Updated guidance will be provided nearer the time. Information to date confirms that employers will need to contribute from that date beginning with the need to cover Employer NI contributions and pension costs on the furloughed amounts. Further changes will be introduced from 1st September 2020 and 1st October 2020 which will require you to top-up the employees’ wages by 10% and then 20%, respectively, in addition to the Employer NI contributions and pension costs on the furloughed amounts.

Is there a limit in terms of the number of employees I can claim for in any period?

As of 1st July 2020, in any single claim period you are restricted to the maximum number of employees that you claimed for under any claim in the period to 30th June 2020. This cap may be modified in certain circumstances. Specifically, any number of employees returning from Special leave or, exceptionally, if certain employees transfer under TUPE or following a change in ownership, who are also then placed on furlough or flexible furlough could be added to any previous maximum. Contact us to discuss further if you believe that any of these exceptions are likely to apply. The Treasury announcement for parents returning to work after extended leave can be found here.

Are there any restrictions as regard which employees I can claim for?

As of 1st July, you can only claim for employees that you have successfully claimed for in a previous claim. This means the employee must have been furloughed previously for at least 3 weeks at any point between 1st March 2020 and 30th June 2020. However, please see above as regards an employee returning from Special leave.

How long must the period of furlough be?

This will be dependent on when an employee is placed on furlough.  If a new period of furlough starts in June but the minimum period of 3 consecutive weeks (as is required under phase 1 of the CJRS) extends into July 2020, the employee cannot be placed on flexible furlough until the minimum 3 week furlough period expires (even if this means the minimum 3 week period ends in July 2020).

However, where the 3-week minimum furlough period is met at the end of June, then there is no minimum period requirement from 30th June 2020.

Are there any restrictions in terms of claim periods?  

Claim periods on or after 1st July must start and end within the same calendar month and must be of at least 7 calendar days unless the claim is for the first few days or last few days in a month.

I am considering making redundancies. Are there any key dates I should consider?

Yes. If you are proposing to make more than 20 employees redundant in one establishment in any 90-day period, then you need to consider whether to begin that process by 2nd July. This should allow you to ensure that the full employment costs of those employees, that you can claim under the furlough scheme, are met by the CJRS grant. The reason is that the amount of the grant available will reduce on a tapering basis from 1st August (see above). That means that from that date you will be partially contributing to the employment costs of your furloughed employees.

The law says that where you are proposing to make 20 or more employees redundant in one establishment, in any 90-day period, then statutory collective consultation provisions are likely to apply. Depending on the number of employees that you propose to make redundant, you may be required to engage in a minimum period of consultation, of at least 30 days, before the first of the proposed dismissals takes place.

Collective consultation is a complex process that involves, amongst other requirements, for you arranging the election of employee representatives, the provision of mandatory information and meaningful consultation on the majority of the redundancy process, consideration of alternative roles within your company and any group companies, as well as notifying the relevant Government department. Therefore, if you believe that these provisions could apply contact us for further advice.



The Government has issued a factsheet, on the revised CJRS, which can be found here. The Chancellor’s announcement for the next phase of the CJRS can be found here. Three new documents relating to the second phase of the CJRS can be found using the following links:

The updates to the existing guidance can be found using the following links:

The current guidance from the Pensions Regulator can be found here.

The COVID-19 pandemic is continually changing and the Government and ACAS advice for employers is being updated as the situation develops. We suggest that you should keep track of the guidance for employers from the following sources:

Published: 07.06.20 - Posted In: Latest News