We updated you last week on the further details of the extended furlough scheme.
On Friday 13 November 2020 we saw a couple of amendments to the updated furlough scheme guidance. The (fourth) Treasury Direction, The Coronavirus Act 2020 Functions of her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme) Direction, was also published. The Treasury Direction provides the legal framework for the extended Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). The guidance had suggested that there was an important change to the scheme in that after 1 December you cannot claim under the scheme for employees serving notice. This is confirmed in the Treasury Direction.
The fourth Treasury Direction:
- formally extends the CJRS from 1 November 2020 until 31 March 2021;
- sets out the detail of how the CJRS will operate between 1 November 2020 and 31 January 2021 (a fifth Treasury Direction covering February and March 2021 will be published later and will probably contain some tapering provisions); and
- withdraws the Coronavirus Job Retention Bonus.
The document is extensive. It sets out the rules covering the extended scheme, including eligibility and the contents of furlough agreements. It also provides details of claim periods, dates for the calculation of reference salaries, and methods of calculating the usual hours of work. It details the permitted activities during furlough, the effect of business succession (including the effect of TUPE transfers in relation to the scheme), PAYE scheme reorganisations, new time limits for making claims and the controversial change in relation to the publication of the names of businesses making CJRS claims.
Whilst the general framework of the new scheme has been included in the updated guidance and is similar to the earlier scheme there are a few details to consider:
- It is now a condition of making a claim that the employer accepts that HMRC will publish information about CJRS claims on the internet. This information will identify the employer and provide a “reasonable indication” of the amount claimed. There is an exception for employers who can show that publication would expose their workforce to “serious risk of violence or intimidation”.
- Claims may not be made for any day that an employee is serving notice (whether contractual or statutory) between 1 December 2020 and 31 January 2021, as mentioned above.
It is important that you review and put in place furlough agreements before the start of the relevant claim period. Given that furlough can be flexible, the furlough periods and pattern may be varied during the claim period. You can update an earlier furlough agreement but this must be done before the employee is furloughed under this phase of the CJRS. The initial opportunity for employers to backdate agreements ended on 13 November 2020.
Full details can be seen at: