The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (“CJRS”) was launched on 20 April 2020 in the UK, and numerous household names in British retail have sought to rely on the scheme by furloughing staff. As at 31 May 2020, HMRC reported that 8.7 million jobs had been furloughed in the UK, with a total value of claims made at around £17.5 billion1; which is representative of almost a quarter of employees in Britain.2

On 12 June 2020, the UK government released new guidance3 to implement flexible furlough and gradually wind down the CJRS to its expected end date of 31 October 20204. The government’s go-head to many non-essential retailers to re-open their doors on 15 June 2020 aligns closely with this wind down.

Retailers with UK employees will need to make early assessments as to whether (and, if so, how) they will continue to furlough employees going forward. We set out some key dates below to bear in mind:

10 June 2020: Apart from those returning from family leave, furlough claims can only be made in respect of employees who have already been registered under the CJRS by this date. 16 June 2020: In addition to knowing when the changes take effect, UK retailers need to bear in mind the risk that they may also trigger collective consultation obligations. The obligation to collectively consult may be triggered by a proposal to change terms and conditions or make redundancies of 20 or more employees at 1 establishment within a 90 day period (whether or not