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Last chance to be furloughed or miss out for good

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Employees must be furloughed by 10 June or they won’t be eligible for the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme later.

Update 10 June: The Chancellor has announced that parents on paternity and maternity leave who return to work after today’s deadline, will be eligible for the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough).

A fortnight ago, Chancellor Rishi Sunak set out details of the extended furlough scheme which has benefited more than eight million workers since launch.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has been extended until the end of October and businesses will be able to bring furloughed employees back part-time from 1 July.

But from then, the value of the furlough grant will be gradually tapered, with businesses making up the shortfall.

And the most important point to note from the changes is that the CJRS will close to new entrants on Wednesday 10 June.

Kate Palmer, associate director of advisory at global employment law consultancy Peninsula, explained: “The Job Retention Scheme, which provides financial assistance to employers who are affected by coronavirus, will close to new entrants on 30 June 2020.

“Employers enter the scheme by putting their employees on furlough for a minimum period of three weeks. Due to the minimum period required, the last date that an employer can furlough an employee for the first time to enter that employee into the scheme is 10 June i.e. three weeks prior to 30 June.

“From 1 July onwards, the scheme will only be available to employers who have previously used the scheme in respect of employees they have previously furloughed for a full three week period prior to 30 June.”

Palmer added that if employers do not furlough employees for the first time by 10 June, they will not be able to use the grant scheme to claim financial assistance with wages for those employees even though it will continue until the end of October.

She said: “There is currently some ambiguity in the brief guidance that has been released as to whether employers must ensure that all employees who they may wish to furlough after 1 July are on furlough from 10-30 June. It is hoped this will be cleared up in guidance due on 12 June.”

Furloughed or registered for furlough?

You may wonder whether you actually have to be furloughed (not work) by 10 June or whether your employer needs to register you for furlough by that date.

Palmer believes employees would have to actually furlough a worker by the end of tomorrow.

She said: “The scheme doesn’t work in the order of registration, and then furlough and then claim. You furlough someone and then at the time of payroll, you make a claim via the scheme for their wages which could be weeks after the start of the furlough.

“The first time the scheme knows about the person is the point at which the employer makes the claim via the portal to cover wages which have been paid for hours not worked.

“The brief guidance says that the scheme can only be used from 1 July by employers who have previously used the scheme for employees who have previously been furloughed i.e. have actually been furloughed by ceasing all work.”

Furlough cut-off applicable to part-time and weekend workers?

Palmer said: “There is no mention in the government guidance of exclusions to the cut-off because of part-time or weekend working.”

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