Last reviewed 11 June 2020
Parents on statutory maternity and paternity leave who return to work in the coming months will be eligible for the furlough scheme even after the 10 June cut-off date, the Treasury has announced. This also includes adoption, shared parental and parental bereavement leave.
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has been extended until October, with new flexibilities introduced from 1 July to support the economy by allowing furloughed employees to return to work part time (see Employers asked to pay more under furlough scheme changes).
To enable the introduction of part-time furloughing, and support those already furloughed back to work, claims from July onwards will be restricted to employers currently using the scheme and previously furloughed employees. This means people must be on the furlough scheme by 10 June.
However, the Government has decided that parents on statutory maternity and paternity leave who return to work in the coming months after a long period of absence will be permitted to be furloughed. This will only apply where they work for an employer who has previously furloughed employees.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “When I announced these changes to the furlough scheme last month, I was clear that we wanted to do this in a fair way, that supports people back to work as the country begins to re-open following coronavirus. But for parents returning from leave, their circumstances have meant that they are still in need of support, and I’m pleased that they will be able to receive the financial assistance they and their family will need.”
He confirmed that the latest announcement applies to people on adoption leave, shared parental leave, and parental bereavement leave.
Comment by Peninsula Associate Director of Advisory Kate Palmer
The Government’s clarification on the furlough cut-off date exemption for those returning from family-related leave will leave employers with mixed feelings.
On the one hand, it removes the confusion around the issue of what happens to these employees who could not be furloughed while being paid at the rate of statutory maternity pay.
The cut-off date would have meant that these employees could not be furloughed in the future, and so employers could have been faced with having to make them redundant.
However, there appears to be some frustration at the timing of the announcement.
The clarification on the exemption came only the evening before the cut-off date meaning that many employers may have already taken action to ensure compliance with the requirements of the scheme, eg agreeing with employees that they end their maternity leave early so that they can be furloughed before the cut-off date.
It now transpires that this needn’t have happened and employers may now need to deal with a situation where employees are required to come back to work at the end of furlough which is earlier than the intended end of maternity leave when the employee is not ready to come back to work and has no childcare options.