HM Treasury made the welcome announcement that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (or Furlough Scheme) would be extended until 31 March 2021. 

The Furlough Scheme, from November, will be on the same  terms as it was back in August this year. This means that the government will pay 80% of employees' wages for unworked hours, subject to the £2,500 cap, with employers paying NI and pension contributions. This is more generous than the arrangements in October, when the government's contribution was only 60% of wages. As in previous months, "flexible furlough" will also be available. 

Employers who have already made employees redundant in anticipation of the Furlough Scheme ending will be able to re-employ and claim for those employees, provided that they were made redundant after 23 September 2020. Otherwise, employers can claim for any employees on their payroll on 30 October 2020. 

This iteration of the Furlough Scheme will be welcome news for many employers (and employees), particularly in cases where it enables continued employment. Some employers, however, may take the view that there is little point in rehiring employees who they may not be able to keep longer-term, not least because they may continue to accrue continuous service, enabling them to bring claims if they are eventually dismissed.