Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme 

The furlough scheme is extended until 31st March 2021. The Job Support Scheme and Job Retention Bonus are postponed indefinitely. Guidance

Employers do not need to have used the CJRS previously.  Employers can claim for employees who were employed and on their PAYE payroll on 30th October 2020. The employer must have made a PAYE Real Time Information (RTI) submission to HMRC between the 20th March 2020 and 30th October 2020, notifying a payment of earnings for that employee.

Employers will have flexibility to use the scheme for employees for any amount of time or shift pattern, furloughing employees on either a full-time or part-time basis, and will be able to vary the hours worked in agreement with the employee. Employees that were employed and on the payroll on 23rd September 2020 who were made redundant or stopped working for their employer afterwards can be re-employed and claimed for. The employer must have made a PAYE Real Time Information (RTI) submission to HMRC from 20th March 2020 to 23rd September 2020, notifying a payment of earnings for those employees.

Summary

Employees, including company directors who are carrying out no work can, by agreement, be furloughed and the government will pay 80% of their pay up to £2,500 per employee a month. In the case of directors they must carry out no work except statutory duties (i.e. preparing/filing accounts etc). A claim must be submitted for the grant via a portal opening on 20th April 2020

This is available to all sectors operating PAYE not just the leisure/retail/hospitality sector that has been so badly affected.

Employer’s immediate action plan re job retention:

  • Plan the next few month’s likely workload and employee time requirements
  • Consider which key staff will be required when the business is back to normal, consider if you would offer to top up furlough pay
  • Check employment contracts for a clause re lay-off, reduced hours, change of status
  • Get advice on the contract if needed, negotiate and notify employees of any furlough
  • Where employees are furloughed state in writing that they will do no work and then save written confirmation of the employee's acceptance of that for 5 years.
  • Secure short term cashflow until the funding is received (likely mid/late April)
  • Notify HMRC and claim the grant - portal will open on 20th April 2020.

We cannot advise on employment law so specific advice should be taken on this and we can refer you to WBW Solicitors who we work with.

What is “furloughed”?
This is another term for lay-off, basically it means a temporary period in which the employee is not working or carrying out any duties but is still kept on payroll.

How much is the subsidy?
Up to 80% of salary can be claimed back, up to £2,500 per employee.   

Can the employer top up, must they top up to 100%?
Employers are not obliged by the government to top up but they may wish to. 

Can I just make someone furloughed?
Check employee contracts, if there is no provision for a furlough period/change of status you will need to consult with employees, it is expected most employees would opt for furlough rather than redundancy. We cannot advise on contracts so speak to a specialist if required, we can refer you. 

Generally there will be no provision for sending an employee home on less pay so care must be taken so there is no unlawful deduction of wages/breach of contract/unfair dismissal.

Where the contract is silent/does not provide for furlough you may be advised to consult employees and issue a letter to employees giving their options of redundancy/unpaid leave/furlough at 80%.  Redundancy pay and notice periods may apply if redundancy route is chosen, speak to us for a calculation. If employer cannot pay statutory redundancy the employee may have recourse to make a claim form the government.

Latest guidance states that it must be agreed in writing by the employer/employee that no work will be carried while on furlough. We suggest an email stating that to employees, with an acceptance reply back from the employee should be saved as best practice and saved for 5 years.