Stephanie Hammond, director of accounts at Beatons, looks at how to make decisions when it comes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
The short answer here is no. You can’t furlough a full-time member of staff to make them part time or split furlough between two workers. Furloughing an employee is basically an all or nothing undertaking. When they are furloughed, they agree not to undertake any work whatsoever for your company during the furlough period, which has to be a minimum of three weeks. In exchange, your business will receive a government grant to cover 80% of that person’s usual wage – up to £2,500 a month.
Employees on a full-time, part-time, agency, flexible or zero-hours contract are eligible for the furlough scheme however. Indeed, any employee that has been on the company’s PAYE payroll from 28 February 2020 can be furloughed.
But when they are furloughed they agree not to undertake any work whatsoever for your company during the furlough period.
When picking which staff to furlough, you should look at which sections of the business are being hardest hit in the wake of the outbreak. It may be fairly obvious which staff can be furloughed because you will have no work for them at this time, but for some you may have to select from a number of employees, and you must give careful consideration to your selection criteria.
Be careful with how you communicate any decisions you make with your staff.
There may be cases where employees become resentful that they are continuing to work on 100% of their wage while others receive 80% and don’t have to do a thing. Others may be upset at being furloughed, thinking they are not a vital part of your business.
The best course of action is to discuss all options with staff, keep in contact with employees and be as transparent as possible about the situation.