The last time I wrote a blog I was outlining what we knew about the ‘Job Support Scheme.’ Since that blog, this support was increased, removed, and now replaced with an extension to ‘Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme’ (CJRS). The extension was announced on Saturday 31 October to reflect the status of the pandemic and new lockdown measure put into force.
Last night the guidance was published for the extended CJRS (more commonly referred to as the furlough scheme) that is effective from 1 November 2020. As the 1 November 2020 has passed, the guidance states that any plans can be retrospectively put in place providing it is in writing by 13 November 2020.
The level of support matches that which was available in August 2020, being 80% of the ‘usual’ wages not worked but the employer must cover any employer’s national insurance and pension costs themselves. This will be reviewed by the Government further in January 2021 to see if they want employers to share more of the cost as they did before.
The employer eligibility remains the same as under the scheme up to 31 October 2020 and you do not have to previously have made a CJRS claim to be eligible for this extension.
The deadlines for each monthly claim will now be 14 days after the month end (or the first working day following) and the portal opened today at 8am.
What employees are eligible? All employees who were included on a ‘real time information’ (RTI) submission between 20 March and 30 October 2020. The same applies here that you do not have to previously made a claim for an employee to claim for them under this extension.
Any employees who were employed and on the payroll on 23 September 2020 and then made redundant or left employment can be re-employed and claimed for under this extension.
When looking how much you can claim you need to split your employees into two groups. The first group being for employees who were eligible under the first scheme (regardless of whether you claim for them) and the second group is everyone else.
The main eligibility requirement was when they first appeared on a payroll submission to HMRC. Therefore, you would not have been able to claim for an employee who was not on an RTI submission on or before 19 March 2020 and these employees will fall in to the second group.
The first group of employees’ usual wages is to be calculated on the same basis as August 2020 claims. This was where fixed salary employees were based on their salary before 19 March 2020 and variable employees were on the higher of 2019/20 average pay and the same period last year (if applicable).
The second group of employees, who were not eligible before, will also depend on their employment contract as follows:
- Fixed rate pay – the reference period will be the last pay period on or before 30 October 2020
- Variable pay – the reference period will be average of their earnings 6 April 2020 (or later if start date is later) to the date they were furlough on or after 1 November 2020
The claimable amount is also capped as before at £2,500 per month.
Detailed guidance for the different employee scenarios and how to calculate what you can claim can be found here https://www.gov.uk/guidance/calculate-how-much-you-can-claim-using-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme
Unlike the claims up to 31 October, the employees do not have to serve a minimum three weeks period when first put on furlough. The extension from 1 November allows full flexibility on the employees working hours to meet business needs. The claim can only be for hours not worked and therefore detailed records still need to be maintained as before under flexible furlough.
There is more detailed guidance here about the different types of employees and scenarios including employees on parental leave and returning from military service – https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-which-employees-you-can-put-on-furlough-to-use-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme
For claims made from December 2020 HMRC will now be publishing all employer’s details that have claimed under the scheme so employees can check.
The final point to note is regarding contractual notice periods. Currently you can claim for any staff member serving a notice period. This is currently under review as to whether this should still be allowed, and any changes will be effective from 1 December 2020 and HMRC will issue in late November.