Introduction to this document

Letter seeking agreement to flexible furlough

From 1 July 2020, you can ask furloughed employees to return to work part time but retain them on furlough for the remainder of their unworked usual hours. Use our letter to guide you through seeking their consent to a flexible furlough arrangement.

Part-time working options

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has been amended so that, from 1 July 2020, you have the flexibility to bring employees (and other PAYE workers) back to work on a part-time basis, whilst still keeping them on furlough in relation to their usual hours not worked. They can now return to work for any amount of time and for any shift pattern and there is no minimum period for which they must be furloughed. Under the rules, you need to agree with your employee any new flexible furloughing arrangement and confirm that agreement in writing. In addition, any changes to working hours requires either a term in the employee’s employment contract permitting this or their express consent. Without this, you risk a breach of contract, unlawful deductions from wages and/or constructive dismissal claim. So, our Letter Seeking Agreement to Flexible Furlough is intended to obtain the employee’s consent in writing, both to the proposed temporary part-time working hours arrangement and to the maximum amount of wages you’ll be paying during it. Keep a record of your communication for five years. If 20 or more staff are involved here, you’ll additionally need to comply with collective consultation obligations as they apply to changing terms and conditions of employment, if your other option to non-consent is going to be staff redundancy. If you still don’t have any work for furloughed employees to do, they can remain on full furlough - see our Letter Extending Furlough.

Pay position

You pay the employee at their normal hourly pay rate for their actual hours worked, or a pro rata amount of their salary proportionate to actual hours worked, and then you still claim the CJRS grant for the remainder of their usual hours that arent worked, i.e. their furloughed hours. So, you will need to report through the HMRC online portal the exact hours an employee worked, the usual hours they would be expected to work and their furloughed hours in a claim period. When claiming the grant for furloughed hours, you will also need to report and claim for a minimum one-week period, but you can still make claims for longer periods, e.g. monthly. Be aware that the CJRS will permanently close on 31 October 2020.

Letter contents

Our letter sets out what part-time working arrangement you propose, how long you expect flexible furlough to last, in what circumstances it would end and what the employee would be paid during it (essentially their full pay for actual hours worked and then 80% of their regular wages, subject to a cap, for furloughed hours). It then asks the employee to sign and date the attached acceptance slip to confirm they’re willing to accept the flexible furlough arrangement you’ve proposed. If they accept it, write to them separately to confirm the control measures you’ve taken to reduce coronavirus risk in their workplace - see our Letter Explaining Control Measures Taken.