Last week the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (also known as the CJRS or furlough scheme) will remain open until 31 March 2021. The job support scheme which the government had intended would replace the CJRS has been postponed.
Full guidance on the workings of the ongoing scheme was published yesterday evening – here is a link:
The key features of the CJRS are as follows:
- Employers can claim 80% of employees’ usual salaries for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per employee per month. The scheme is being reviewed in January and this percentage may be reviewed for February and March depending upon the economic circumstances at the time.
- Employers will still have to pay employers’ National Insurance and pension contributions.
- Flexible furlough remains an option, meaning employees can work part-time and receive a furlough grant for their unworked hours.
- Employers can claim under the CJRS even if they have never furloughed the employees before, and there is no limit on the number of employees who can be furloughed.
- To be eligible, employees must have been on the PAYE payroll on 30 October 2020. That means that a Real Time Information (RTI) submission notifying payment for that employee to HMRC must have been made between 20 March 2020 and 30 October 2020.
- Employers need employees’ agreement to either extend furlough or put new employees on furlough. It is possible to backdate furlough to 1 November 2020 provided that a retrospective agreement is put in place by the end of Friday 13 November 2020. Retrospective agreements after that date will not be acceptable.
- New wording in the “Check which employees you can put on furlough” section states “The government is reviewing whether employers should be eligible to claim for employees serving contractual or statutory notice periods and will change the approach for claim periods starting on or after 1 December 2020, with further guidance published in late November.” Up to now, employers have been able to claim furlough pay for staff working out their notice periods, but this looks set to change. Employers may want to factor this into their planning, and where terminating employment contracts (due to redundancy or any other reason) may want to time issuing notice prior to this change and bear in mind if notice periods extend after 1 December furlough payments may not be due in relation to dates after this date if rules change.
- Employees (including those on fixed term contracts) who were on the payroll on 23 September 2020 who have since been made redundant or stopped working for the employer can be re-employed and put onto the furlough scheme.
- There is a shorter claims window than previously. Claims relating to November 2020 will have to be made by 14 December 2020. Claims relating to each subsequent month need to be submitted by day 14 of the following month (or the next working day if that falls on a weekend).
- From December 2020, HMRC will start to publish the names of companies and LLPs who have made claims under the scheme for December onwards. Employers will need to be aware of this publicity.
- The job retention bonus scheme which was due to be paid out for employees retained after furlough until the end of January has been put on hold.
If you have any queries about the scheme do get in touch.