Furlough Scheme Extended Until End of April

Furlough Scheme Extended Until End of April

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), which was due to end on 31 October, will now be extended until the end of April.

Today the Chancellor has announced that CJRS will be extended until the end of April‌‌‌ 2021 for all parts of the UK.

Earlier it was announced that the UK Government would pay 80% of employees’ usual wages for hours not worked, up to a cap of £2,500 per month for claim periods running to 31‌‌‌ January 2021, with a further revision of the government’s contribution due to be made in January. Today the Chancellor has confirmed that the government would continue to pay 80% of the salary of employees for hours not worked until the end of April. Employers can choose to top up their furloughed employees’ wages beyond the 80% paid by the UK government for hours not worked, but they are not required to do so.

Employers can ask their employees to work on a part-time basis and furlough them for the rest of their usual working hours or furlough them full-time. Employers can fully furlough employees (this means the employee does no work for the employer) or flexibly furlough employees (this means employees can work for any amount of time, and any work pattern and claim the grant for the furloughed hours, with reference to hours the employee would usually have worked in that period).

When furloughing their staff under the CJRS, employers will have to cover their staff’s wages for any hours they work as well as all employer National Insurance Contributions (NICs) and pension contributions.

It is possible to make claims either shortly before, during or after running payroll. But unlike the first phase of the CJRS, claims for wages for each month from 1 November have to be made until the 14th date of the following month. The final date for claims for the period up to 31 October was 30‌‌‌ November 2020.

All employers with a UK bank account and UK PAYE schemes can claim the grant. Neither the employer nor the employee needs to have previously used the CJRS.

Employers small or large, charitable or non-profit, are eligible for the extended Job Retention Scheme. The government expects that publicly funded organisations will not use the scheme, as has already been the case for CJRS, but partially publicly funded organisations may be eligible where their private revenues have been disrupted.

Employees

To be eligible to be claimed for under this extension, employees must be on an employer’s PAYE payroll by 23:59 30th October 2020. This means a Real Time Information (RTI) submission notifying payment for that employee to HMRC must have been made on or before 30th October 2020.

As under the current CJRS rules, employees can be on any type of contract. Employers can agree any working arrangements with employees.

Employers can claim the grant for the hours their employees are not working, calculated by reference to their usual hours worked in a claim period. Such calculations broadly follow the same methodology as previously under the first phase of the CJRS.

When claiming the CJRS grant for furloughed hours, employers need to report and claim for a minimum period of 7 consecutive calendar days. Employers need to report hours worked and the usual hours an employee would be expected to work in a claim period. For worked hours, employees will be paid by their employer subject to their employment contract, and employers will be responsible for paying the tax and NICs due on those amounts. Until April, employer contributions during the CJRS extension will be the same as in August 2020, meaning that for hours not worked by their employee, employers will only be asked to cover National Insurance and employer pension contributions.

Employees can be furloughed where they are unable to work because they are shielding in line with public health guidance (or need to stay at home with someone who is shielding) or have caring responsibilities resulting from coronavirus, including employees that need to look after children.

The CJRS is not intended for short-term sick absences. If, however, employers want to furlough employees for business reasons and they are currently off sick, they are eligible to do so, as with other employees. Furloughed employees who become ill, due to coronavirus or any other cause, must be paid at least Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).

As under the CJRS previously, during hours which employees are recorded as being on furlough, they cannot do any work for their employer that makes money or provides services for their employer or any organisation linked or associated with their employer. Employees nevertheless can take part in training, volunteer for another employer or organisation or work for another employer (if contractually allowed).

Even if employers have already given written notice to their employees about furloughing, they will need to get an agreement and provide written notice for the part time or shift-work pattern they’re claiming under the extended CJRS.

How to calculate your CJRS claim

For employees that meet the eligibility criteria, and were previously furloughed, employers must use the same calculations for calculating reference pay and usual hours as CJRS.

For an employee who meets the criteria of the extended scheme but was not previously eligible for CJRS, the alternative calculations of reference pay and usual hours must be used.

More detailed guidance on calculating employees’ hours and wages under the extended CJRS is available here.

Job Support Scheme and Job Retention Bonus

The Job Support Scheme, which was scheduled to come into force on Sunday 1st November, has been postponed until the furlough scheme ends.

The Job Retention Bonus (JRB) will no longer be paid in Fe‌‌‌bruary 2021 as CJRS will be available at that time. An alternative retention incentive will be put in place at the appropriate time.

What you need to do now

If you intend to claim under the CJRS, please look at information published today on how you can check if you’re eligible to claim, and what you need to agree with your employees. You can find this on GOV‌‌‌.UK by searching ‘Extension to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme’.

Further support

Guidance and live webinars offering you more support on changes to CJRS, and how they affect you, are available to book online – go to GOV‌‌‌.UK and search ‘help and support if your business is affected by coronavirus’.

Image by pikselstock / Adobe Stock

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Karen Wilkinson works at London School of Finance and Law and writes articles on UK tax law for My Taxes Plus and MILESTONES | in business magazines.