As the UK economy starts to slowly reopen, many employers’ thoughts are now turning to bringing employees back into the workplace and taking them off the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Many employers have asked what the specific process is, whether they have to serve notice and if there is a standard letter they must send.
Despite the complexities of the Scheme, the answers to these questions may surprise you.
As of today, there is no guidance from the government about dealing with taking people off furlough, which means that the process is as simple as notifying an employee that the furlough period is over and that they are required back at work. There is no requirement to serve notice and there is no prescribed form of letter to give to the employee. This makes sense as the government will want furloughed staff back in work and not receiving subsidised pay via the Scheme as quickly as possible, so the less red tape the better.
Therefore, it can be as straightforward as verbally notifying an employee that the furlough period is over and that they are required back in work, as soon as possible.
Despite this, we would advise employers that a notification of termination of furlough should be produced in writing so that there are records of the furlough period that can be shown to HMRC in the event of an audit. Such written notification can be a letter or an e-mail, but should confirm the date that the employee’s furlough period ended. This is especially important if the employer plans to rotate staff in and out of furlough.
Employers need to be mindful however, that if they bring employees back from furlough before the minimum 3 week period has expired, they will not be eligible for a grant under the Scheme, but they will remain liable for the employees’ wages for this period.
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