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ASOS payroll manger on “nightmare” furlough 

Online retailer ASOS is repaying the money it has received through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).

ASOS payroll manager: “Furlough and the CJRS has been one of the hardest challenges I’ve faced"
ASOS payroll manager: “Furlough and the CJRS has been one of the hardest challenges I’ve faced"

In its latest trading statement released last week (July 15), the company said it expects to deliver a better than initially anticipated full-year performance and is therefore going to repay the support it received from the UK government.


Prior to this announcement, on June 30, Reward Strategy interviewed Phillipa McFarlane, payroll manager for UK, US, HK, and Turkey, at ASOS.


Below is a short snippet of what Reward Strategy (RS) and Phillipa McFarlane (PM) discussed:


RS: ASOS is an online retailer, so would you say its been affected by COVID-19 as much as physical stores?

PM: “No, we were not affected as badly as the high street, as we continue to trade. However, we have had to furlough staff and workout how to use the CJRS.


“Payroll is used to working up to changes - you normally find out something is going to happen the tax year before. Then you have the chance to prepare with conferences and webinars, but to figure something out like furlough in three weeks was really, really, really stressful. Something was changing every single day.


"We managed to figure out the furlough payments, but making the claim was another thing entirely. Though, I do have to say, everyone in the profession, including our people experience team, pulled together to get everything done. You’d wake up the day after a change had been announced and so many people had pulled together the new guidance to share overnight. That shows what a great profession we are in.”


RS: How difficult will flexible furlough and the new style CJRS be, for those that use it, going forward?

PM: “It’s going to be a nightmare. I dread it, I really do. Luckily, I have come out the other side quite quickly. I just feel sorry for anybody that has to go through the new style scheme.


“Furlough and the CJRS has been one of the hardest challenges I’ve faced, due to time constraints and changing guidance. I believe the complexities of flexible furlough will be extremely difficult; it’s hard enough trying to get the employees’ wages accurate, let alone follow this up with an accurate claim.


“Businesses move at such a fast pace, often our information at payroll cut-off is not always the final status.”


Read the full interview in Reward Strategy magazine here.

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