Must employees be placed on periods of furlough in three-week blocks?

The HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) guidance on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme confirms that each period of furlough must last for a minimum of three consecutive weeks (21 calendar days). Where an employee is furloughed more than once, it is each individual furlough period that must last at least three weeks, not the total time the employee is furloughed. For example, if an employee returns to work after a three-week period of furlough and is later placed back on furlough, the second period must also last at least three weeks for the employer to be able to claim for that period under the scheme.

A period of furlough can last more than three weeks. The HMRC guidance confirms that a period of furlough can be extended for any amount of time (up to the scheme end date) while the employee is on furlough.