HMRC has clarified that employees, including childcare staff, can be placed on furlough more than once.
Updated guidance for employees on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, published today, stated: ‘Your employer can place you on furlough more than once, and one period can follow straight after an existing furlough period, while the scheme is open. The scheme will be open for at least three months.’
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is a temporary scheme open to all UK employers for at least three months, starting from 1 March 2020. It is designed to support employers whose operations have been severely affected by coronavirus (COVID-19).
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Call for flexibility in childcare settings
Early years membership organisation the Early Years Alliance welcomed clarification from HMRC that employees, including childcare staff, can be placed on furlough more than once.
The Alliance had called for flexibility to be applied for childcare settings staying partially open who may need to 'unfurlough' and 'refurlough' staff to cover, for example, situations where staff are off sick or in self-isolation.
The organisation's MP email-campaign on this issue highlighted how the inability to 'unfurlough' and 'refurlough' staff to cover sickness made it unclear if this system would be flexible enough to really benefit nurseries, pre-schools and childminders who employ assistants staying open for key workers and vulnerable children.
The campaign led to ‘hundreds of letters being sent to MPs in a matter of days’, the Alliance said.
Commenting on the move, Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Early Years Alliance, said:
‘We welcome the news that childcare providers, alongside other businesses, are able to access the job retention scheme flexibly.
‘For childcare providers remaining partially open, such flexibility – for example, the ability to rotate staff who are furloughed in instances of staff sickness or self-isolation - is absolutely vital to being able to continue operating and providing places for key worker families and vulnerable children during this difficult period.’
Full guidance here