On 5th November, the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, commonly known as the furlough scheme, will remain open until 31 March 2021.
A policy paper for CJRS claims for the period starting on or after 1 November 2020 to 31 January 2021 has been published. The paper confirms that for claim periods running to January 2021, employees will receive 80% of their usual salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.
This makes the extended CJRS scheme more generous than the scheme that was running in September and October. However, it is anticipated that the government contribution may be reviewed in February and March as before.
The HMRC Policy Paper confirms that: -
- Employers can claim even if they, or the relevant employees, had not previously used the CJRS.
- Employers can claim whether or not their business remains open during the national lockdown.
- Employers will have flexibility to use the scheme for employees for any shift patter but must be paid in the usual way for hours worked.
- Employers can claim for employees who were employed and on their PAYE payroll on 30 October 2020. The employer must have made a PAYE Real Time Information (RTI) submission to HMRC between the 20 March 2020 and 30 October 2020, notifying a payment of earnings for that employee.
- Employees who have previously been furloughed continue to have their reference pay and hours based on the existing furlough calculations. Employees who have not previously been furloughed will have a different pay/hours reference period. Full guidance will be provided but, it is anticipated that for those on fixed wages, the pay is based on 80% of the wages payable in the last pay period ending on or before 30 October 2020, or for those on variable wages, the pay is based on 80% of the average payable between the start date of their employment or 6 April 2020 (whichever is later) and the day before their CJRS extension furlough periods begins.
- Employees can be furloughed if they are shielding in line with public health guidance or need to stay at home with someone who is shielding or who have caring responsibilities resulting from coronavirus. That does not mean they have to be furloughed.
- Employees that were employed and on the payroll on 23 September 2020 who were made redundant or stopped working for their employer after that date but, had a RTI submission between 20 March 2020 and 23 September 2020, can be re-employed and claimed for.
- Furloughed employees who become ill, due to coronavirus or any other cause, must be paid at least Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). Employers can decide whether to pay the employees SSP or keep them on furlough.
- the Job Support Scheme and the Job Retention Bonus have been put on hold but may be implemented following the cessation of the CJRS.
If you need assistance or advice on the contents of this article, please contact Thackray Williams LLP who have set up a FREE Legal Advice Line to businesses and employees in the wake of COVID-19. Do get in touch on 020 8663 4127 if you wish to discuss this matter in more detail or require any advice.