On 5 November 2020, the Chancellor announced the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) will be extended beyond the November lockdown and will run until 31 March 2021. On 10 November 2020, HMRC released guidance notes outlining details relating to the extended scheme. On Friday 13th November, the guidance was again updated with a significant change affecting employers’ ability to recover notice pay under the CJRS.
Much of the CJRS guidance remains the same, however, there are some notable differences which are addressed in the FAQ’s below. A brief summary of the main points however is:
- The level of support available under the CJRS extension almost mirrors the support available under the CJRS in August.
- The government will pay 80% of an employee’s wages for hours not worked, up to a cap of £2,500. Employers will pay National Insurance contributions and pension contributions.
- Flexible furlough is allowed under the extended CJRS, as well as full-time furloughing.
- Employers can furlough employees who are at home shielding in line with public health guidance.
- Employees who were employed and on the payroll at 23rd September but who have since ceased to work for their employer (for example due to being made redundant) can be re-employed and furloughed.
- The government will review the scheme in January 2021.
- The Job Support Scheme and Job Retention Bonus have been put on hold. From 1 November 2020 onwards, employers can claim for employees who were employed on 30 October 2020, as long as they have been the subject of a PAYE Real Time Information (RTI) submission to HMRC between 20 March 2020 and 30 October 2020.
- Employers can claim even if they have not previously claimed for an employee before the 30 October 2020.
Where can I find the up to date guidance on the extended CJRS?
There are 13 (yes, THIRTEEN) guidance pages regarding the new scheme. Rather unhelpfully, the government/HMRC have not created a CJRS page with all relevant guidance notes in one place. To help make your lives a little easier, we have created a full list of HMRC’s guidance below:
- Check if you can claim – https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme
- Check which employees you can put on furlough – https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-which-employees-you-can-put-on-furlough-to-use-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme
- Other types of employees you can claim for – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/individuals-you-can-claim-for-who-are-not-employees
- Steps to take before calculating your claim – https://www.gov.uk/guidance/steps-to-take-before-calculating-your-claim-using-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme
- Calculate how much you can claim – https://www.gov.uk/guidance/calculate-how-much-you-can-claim-using-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme
- Claim for wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wages-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme
- Reporting employees’ wages to HMRC when you’ve claimed through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – https://www.gov.uk/guidance/reporting-payments-in-paye-real-time-information-from-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme
- Examples of how to calculate wages #1 – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/find-examples-to-help-you-work-out-80-of-your-employees-wages/examples-of-how-to-work-out-80-of-your-employees-wages-national-insurance-contributions-and-pension-contributions
- Examples of how to calculate wages #2 – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/find-examples-to-help-you-work-out-80-of-your-employees-wages/example-of-a-full-calculation-for-an-employee-who-is-flexibly-furloughed
- Employee-facing version of the guidance – https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-you-could-be-covered-by-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme
- Pay Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme grants back – https://www.gov.uk/guidance/pay-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme-grants-back
- Holiday entitlement and pay guidance (appears unchanged) – https://www.gov.uk/guidance/holiday-entitlement-and-pay-during-coronavirus-covid-19
- Shielding / Protecting the clinically extremely vulnerable – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19
Can we claim?
If you’re claiming for a period that ends on or before 31 October 2020, you can only claim in relation to employees who have previously been furloughed for 3 consecutive weeks between 1st March and 30th June 2020. You have until the deadline on 30th November 2020 to do so.
If you are claiming for a period that starts on or after 1 November 2020, then you can only claim for furloughed employees that were employed and on payroll on 30 October 2020. This means you must have made a PAYE RTI submission to HMRC between 20 March 2020 and 30 October 2020, notifying a payment of earnings for that employee.
What about measures to detect fraud?
Within HMRC’s guidance note entitled, “Check if you can claim for your employees’ wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme” it states that “from December 2020, HMRC will publish employer names and for companies and Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs), the company registration number of those who have made claims under the scheme for the month of December onwards.” This would appear to be HMRC’s attempt to reduce the number of fraudulent claims under the extended CJRS by making it more transparent.
Do we need to have an agreement in place?
Yes. As before, you are required to have a written agreement in place with employees for the extended scheme. This must be in writing and retained for five years; however, there is no requirement for written acceptance. Please see the guidance for details on the requirements surrounding the agreement.
Will the calculation and reference period change?
For any employee who receives fixed pay and was either (a) on their employer’s payroll on 19 March 2020 and received a payment of earnings which was reported to HMRC on a Real Time Information (RTI) on or before that date or (b) received a payment validly claimed under the CJRS on or before 20th October 2020, the reference period is the last pay period ending on or before 19th March 2020. For all other employees (i.e. new claims starting after 1 November 2020), the reference period is the last pay period ending on or before 30 October 2020.
For employees with variable pay and either (a) on their employer’s payroll on 19th March 2020 and received a payment of earnings which was reported to HMRC on Real Time Information on or before that date or (b) received a payment validly claimed under the CJRS on or before 31st October 2020, they should receive 80% of the higher of:
- the wages earned in the corresponding calendar period in the tax year 2019 to 2020
- the average wages payable in the tax year 2019 to 2020
All other employees should receive 80% of the average wages payable between 6 April 2020 (or, if later, the date the employment started) and the day before they are furloughed on or after 1 November 2020.
What if we have already dismissed an employee?
If you have made redundancies within your business, or an employee stopped working for you on or after 23 September 2020, you can re-employ them and put them on furlough. This applies as long as the employee was employed and on your PAYE payroll on or before 23 September 2020. An RTI submission notifying payment in respect of that employee to HMRC must have been made between 20 March and 23 September 2020.
Is the process and deadline to make a claim the same?
Although the process is the same, the claim window is shorter. For example, claims relating to November 2020 must be made by 14 December 2020. Claims relating to each month thereafter must be submitted by day 14 of the following month.
Can we furlough an employee who is serving their contractual / statutory notice period?
The guidance now states that an employer cannot claim for any days on or after 1 December 2020 during which the employee is serving a contractual or statutory notice period for the employer. For any claims relating to periods spent on furlough before 1st December 2020, claims can be made in relation to statutory notice only.
What has happened to the Job Support Scheme and Job Retention Bonus?
The Job Support Scheme bas been shelved indefinitely and the Job Retention Bonus has fallen away and will be reintroduced at a more appropriate time.
Here is a link to the fourth Treasury Direction which sets out the legal framework for the extended CJRS and how it will operate until 31st January 2021: The Coronavirus Act 2020 Functions of her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme) Direction