And the changes continue to pour in….

The Chancellor has announced that CJRS will be extended until the end of March‌‌‌ 2021 for all parts of the UK. For claim periods running to 31‌‌‌ January 2021, the UK Government will pay 80% of employees’ usual wages for hours not worked, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. The UK Government will review the policy in January to decide whether economic circumstances are improving enough to ask employers to contribute more.

It was also confirmed that the Job Retention Bonus 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 do you need to do?

  • Submit any claims for periods up to 31‌‌‌ ‌October on or before 30‌‌‌ ‌‌November – they will not be accepted after this date. Claims are subject to eligibility and the rules in force at the time.
  • Submit any claims for November, no later than 14‌‌‌ ‌December. You can claim before, during or after you process your payroll as long as your claim is submitted by the deadline.
  • Keep any records that support the amount of CJRS grant you claim, in case HMRC needs to check them. You can view, print or download copies of your previously submitted claims by logging onto your CJRS service on GOV‌.UK.

For claim periods from 1‌‌ ‌December, employers cannot claim CJRS grants for any days that their employee is serving a contractual or statutory notice period, including notice of retirement or resignation.

COME ON THEN – KEEP UP!!

No sooner do I update for the latest info on the Job Support Scheme than Boris changes his mind.

So for the next month, it looks like you can forget all about the Job Support scheme (open or closed) and keep taking advantage of the CoronaVirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) or Furlough Scheme as it has become known.

The different now is:

  1. As long as the employee was on your payroll on 30 October 2020. That means you need to have submitted your last October 2020 Full Payment Summary with a person registered as an employee by now;
  2. You don’t need to have made furlough payments previously to an employee for that employee to now qualify.  This is more generous and recognises things have changed hugely since this scheme was introduced;
  3. The employer must pay the employee at least 80% of their normal salary/wages;
  4. The employer can claim 80% of the normal salary/wages back from the government, up to a maximum of £2,500 per employee;
  5. Flexible furlough remains an option;
  6. The employer will be expected to cover the cost of employer national insurance and employer pension contributions.

For more information go to Gov.uk

The Job Retention Bonus

The Job Retention Bonus allows employers to claim a one-off payment of £1,000 for every eligible employee they have furloughed and claimed for through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and kept continuously employed until at least 31 January 2021. Employers do not have to pay this money to their employee.

To be eligible, employees must earn at least £1,560 between 6 November 2020 and 5 February 2021 and have received earnings in the November, December and January tax months. Employees must also not be serving a contractual or statutory notice period on 31 January 2021.

Employers can still claim the Job Retention Bonus if they make a claim for that employee through the Job Support Scheme, as long as they meet the eligibility criteria for both. Employers will be able to claim the bonus from 15 February until 31 March, after they submit PAYE information for the period to 5 February 2021. For more information, including what you or your clients need to do now if you intend to claim the bonus, go to GOV.UK. More detailed guidance will be available by the end of January

The Job Support Scheme replaces the Job Retention (furlough) Scheme and is effective from 1 November 2020.

The scheme falls into two categories – JSS Open and JSS closed.

JSS Open is available to employers who can operate safely but continue to face reduced demand and there fore need some extra support over the ensuing months.  To qualify an employee must work s minimum of 20% of their usual hours and the employer will continue to pay them as normal for the hours worked.  Alongside this the employee will receive 66.67% (⅔) of their normal pay for the hours not worked.  The employer will pay 5% up to a maximum of £125 per month, whilst the government will pay the remaining 61.67% up to a maximum of £1,541.75 per month.  An employee earning less than £3,125 per month, will receive at least 73% of their normal wages.  An employer may pay more than the 5% if they wish.

JSS Closed is available to employers who have been legally required to close their premises as a direct result of the CoronaVirus restrictions.  Each employee who cannot work due to the restrictions will receive ⅔ of their normal pay, fully funded by the government to a maximum of £2,083.33 per month, but the employer has discretion to pay more if they wish.  Employees may also be entitled to additional financial support, including Universal Credit.

The JSS will initially run for 6 months until 30 April 2021, with the terms of the scheme being reviewed in January 2021.

Employees do not need to have qualified under the Job Retention scheme to qualify for the Job Support Scheme.

For more information go to the HMRC website

Get a bit of an incentive if you keep your furloughed workers on until at least 31 January 2021.

This is a one-off payment of £1,000 to employers that have used the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) for each furloughed employee who remains continuously employed until 31‌‌‌ ‌January 2021. The bonus will provide additional support to retain employees.

To be eligible, employees will need to:

  • earn at least £520 per month (above the Lower Earnings Limit) on average for November, December and January
  • have been furloughed at any point and legitimately claimed for under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
  • have been continuously employed up until at least 31‌‌‌ ‌January 2021.

Employers will be able to claim the bonus from February 2021 once accurate RTI data to 31‌‌‌ ‌January has been received. More information about this scheme will be available by 31‌‌‌ ‌July and full guidance will be published in the Autumn.

Important dates – what you need to know now

  • The scheme will close to anyone who hasn’t been furloughed for 3 weeks by 30 June, so you will only be able to claim for employees after that if they have been furloughed for a full three-week period at any time before the end of June.
  • So, if you intend to furlough an employee who hasn’t been furloughed before, you will need to agree that with them and start their period of furlough on or before 10 J‌un‌e – this is the last day on which someone who has never been furloughed before can start a period of furlough and qualify for the scheme – this ensures the minimum three-week period is complete by 30 J‌un‌e.
  • You will then have until 31 J‌ul‌y to make a claim for any periods of furlough up until 30 J‌un‌e – this applies to both employees furloughed for the first time and those you have previously furloughed and claimed for.  Remember all claims for the period ending on or before 30 June 2020 MUST be made by 31 July 2020.

The rules of the scheme are changing from 1 J‌ul‌y.

  • On 12 J‌un‌e, HMRC will publish full guidance on all the scheme changes on GOV.UK – search for ‘Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme’ to find this – webinars offering more support on the changes will also be available to book online from 12 June – please do not call us for more information, as everything you need to know about the scheme changes will be published online on GOV‌.UK.
  • From 1 July, you’ll have the flexibility to bring previously furloughed employees back to work part time, you can decide the hours and shift patterns they work to suit the needs of your business – you’ll pay their wages for the time they’re in work and can apply for a scheme grant to cover any of their normal hours they are still furloughed for.
  • Also, for periods starting on or after the 1 J‌ul‌y, the maximum number of employees you can claim for in any period cannot be higher than the maximum number you have claimed for in a previous period. For example, if your highest single claim for periods up to 30 J‌un‌e was for 100 people, you can’t claim for more than this number in later periods.
  • From 1 Au‌gu‌st, you will need to contribute towards the wage costs of your furloughed employees until the scheme ends on 31 Oc‌to‌be‌r.  In August you will no longer be able to get grant cover for Employers National Insurance and Employer Pension contributions.
  • Claims for August may be submitted from 20 July 2020.

Working out your claims

HMRC have a number of online examples and the calculator to help work out what you can claim, for claims ending on or before 31 July 2020.  From 10 July 2020 you will also be able to use these to help work out claims ending on or before 31 August. Click here

If you have made a mistake on your claim

You can now delete a claim online within 72 hours of submitting it.  For more information go to HMRC’s website

HMRC are calling selected employers to discuss their claims and check that they haven’t made any mistakes as well as ensure they are claiming the correct amount.  To satisfy ourselves we are claiming the correct amount for our clients, we use HMRCs calculator and we save a copy of that calculator.  We have a detailed record of all claims submitted.  If you are doing the claims yourself, ensure you have a complete record.

On Friday 20 March the Chancellor announced a scheme whereby the government would pay 80% of salaries up to £2,500 per month.

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all employers in the UK will be able to access support to continue paying part of employees’ salaries who would otherwise have been laid off during the ongoing crisis.

Furloughed workers are employees whose employers cannot cover staff costs due to coronavirus, and as such they have been asked to stop working but have not been made redundant.  Employees who are furloughed msut be so for a minimum of 3 weeks.  Such employers are now able to access support to continue paying part of their staff’s wages, to avoid redundancies and so they can retain their teams.

To avoid fraud, there are expected to be cross-checks between the applications for grants against PAYE records for each employer.
Employers will be required to make one claim for the entire workforce, record how many workers are covered and will need to keep records.

The scheme is openn to all UK employers that had created and started a PAYE payroll scheme on 28 February 2020.

Who can claim
• UK businesses

• Charities

• Recruitment agencies who have agency workers being paid through PAYE

• Public Authorities (we won’t be covering this here but you can find more detail at gov.uk)

How the scheme works
• The employer should discuss with affected employees and notify them (preferably in writing) that they have become ‘furloughed workers’. ACAS have a suggested information that should be included that we have adapted and is at the bottom of this article with suggested letters.

• The employer can claim a grant of 80% of workers’ wages up to £2,500 a month once they have been furloughed.

• The employees remain on the payroll deducting tax and national insurance under the pay as you earn (PAYE) system.

• The grant covers the cost of gross salary, employers national insurance and minimum employer pension contributions.  The £2,500 relates to gross salary.  The scheme will cover employer national insurance & minimum employer pension contributions in addition to the £2,500.

• If employers want to top up pay levels, they can.  They are not obliged to plug the gap but if they do they will not be able to claim for more than 80 per cent of £3,125 plus NIC & Pension.

• The furloughed workers should not undertake work whatsoever, for their employer while they are furloughed.

• The scheme is available to all employees, but you don’t have to furlough every employee.

• The employer needs to get agreement from the worker to do this, unless it’s covered by a ‘lay off’ clause in the employment contract.

• The employer needs to submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings. The submission will be through a new online portal which is expected before them end April (HMRC will set out further details on the information required).

• If an employee’s salary is reduced as a result of these changes, the employee may be eligible for support through the welfare system, including Universal Credit.

• For employees on zero-hour contracts, the employer can use the monthly pay in February 2020 as a benchmark for each person’s pay when furloughed. If any employee did not work in that month, they should claim Universal Credit.

• If the employee has been employed (or engaged by an employment business) for a full twelve months prior to the claim, you can claim for the higher of either: the same months’ earnings from previous year or the average of their monthly earnings since they started work.

• If employees have to stay at home to look after young children, the employer is likely to be allowed to claim compensation if they furlough these workers.

• The scheme only covers employers who were on the payroll at 29 February 2020 i.e. you have to have submitted an RTI summary to HMRC by that date for teh employee to qualify.

• The scheme covers employees who were made redundant since 28 February 2020, if they are
rehired by their employer.

• The scheme is available to all employees including sole director / shareholder companies. However, only the regular salary element paid via payroll will be eligible for the scheme – dividends are not included. The monthly pay figure submitted in the February 2020 payroll will be used as the basis for the monthly furloughed eligible amount.

• A sole director of a limited company can be an employee for the purposes of the furlough, providing there is an employment relationship between the company and the individual. They may also need to evidence any distinction between the director’s role as an officeholder and that of the employee. Based on the current available guidance, it seems a sole director of a limited company can furlough themselves. Concerns have been expressed that this would effectively mean leaving no-one running the company. If the individual is an employee on the payroll of their own limited company, then they would be furloughed as an employee, not as a director. The director continues to run the affairs of the company, while the employee is furloughed.

• The basis for establishing the director’s employment status would be dependent on facts such as

Whether there is a genuine contract of employment between the director and the limited company
Is there a ‘statement of written particulars’ issued, providing distinction between officeholder duties and those of an employee
What the obligations of each party are in pursuance of the contract

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will run for at least 3 months from 1 March 2020 but will be extended if necessary.

Clarification from HMRC

Unpaid leave – if you placed an employee on unpaid leave before 29 February 2020, they cannot be furloughed;

Statutory Sick Pay – if you have employees on sick leave or they are self-isolating they should be getting SSP.  However after this period, they can be furloughed.  Employees who are socially distancing themselves in line with public health guidance can be placed on furlough.

More than one job – if an employee has more than one job, they can be furloughed for each job.  Each job is separate and the cap applies to each individual employer.

Voluntary work – a furloughed employee can take part in volunteer work or training, provided it does not provide services to or generate revenue or, or on behalf of your organisation.  If workers are required to complete online training courses whilst they are furloughed, they must be paid at least the national Minimum wage for the time spent training, even if this is more than the 80% of their subsidised wage.

SMP/SPP etc – Individuals on or planning to go n Maternity leave must take at least 2 weeks off work (4 weeks in a factory or workshop) immediately following the birth.  If your team member is eligible for SMP or Maternity allowance normal rules apply.  If you offer enhanced contractual pay to women on maternity leave this is included as wage costs that you can claim through the scheme.

Working out the claim – You will receive a grant from HMRC to cover the lower of 80% of an employee’s regular wage or £2,500 per month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on that subsidised wage. Fees, commission and bonuses should not be included.

At a minimum, employers must pay their employee the lower of 80% of their regular wage or £2,500 per month. An employer can also choose to top up an employee’s salary beyond this but is not obliged to under this scheme.

HMRC will issue more guidance on how employers should calculate their claims for Employer National Insurance Contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions, before the scheme becomes live.

Employees with variable pay – if your team member has been employed for a full 12 months you can claim either:

  1. the same month’s earnings from the previous year; or
  2. average monthly earnings from the 2019-20 year, which ever is the higher.

National living Wage/National minimum wage – individuals are only entitled to the NLW/NMW for the hours they are working.  As furloughed workers who are not working, they can only receive 80% or their usual salary or £2,500, even if based on their usual working hours this would be below the NLW/NMW.

To make the claim you will need the following information

  • your ePAYE reference number
  • the number of employees being furloughed
  • the claim period (start and end date)
  • amount claimed (per the minimum length of furloughing of 3 weeks)
  • your bank account number and sort code
  • your contact name
  • your phone number
  • the amount you are claiming.

HMRC retain the right to retrospectively audit all aspects of any claim.

How to claim – you can only submit on claim at least every 3 weeks (the minimum period an employee can be furloughed).  Claims can be backdated to 1 March 2020.  When HMRC have confirmed your eligibility the sum claimed will be paid via BACS into a UK bank account.  You must pay the employee the whole grant that you receive for their gross pay, but it will be subject to tax and national insurance in the usual manner.

HMRC are working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement. Existing systems are not set up to facilitate payments to employers.
It is expected that employers borrow or self-fund in the short term to provide the wage package.
If a business needs short term cash flow support, it may be eligible for a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan.

HMRC guidance on:
– COVID-19 support for businesses can be accessed here
-COVID-19 guidance for employees can be accessed here

Our advice is don’t make any rash decisions in relation to your employees.  If however, you think it might be appropriate to furlough your employees you may wish to send them this link and tell them to go to the section on furloughed workers.  It provides them with the information they need too.

We have template letters that you can use for staff members that you think might be appropriate for this scheme.

Keep an eye on this page because we will be updating it as we get more information.