Extended Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
Last Updated, 24 March, 16:45
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is now in place until 30 September 2021 (CJRS Extension) and will enable employers to claim 80% of employees’ wages up to £2,500. Employers will still need to pay employers’ National Insurance and pension contributions. Both full and flexible furlough options are available and the process for making claims is largely the same.
The Q&A below sets out what employers need to know for claim for periods after 1 November 2020. Under the CJRS Extension, HMRC hopes to create a more transparent culture by publishing the names and company registration numbers of those employers who make claims.
For claims relating to periods before 1 November 2020 please see Coronavirus: Job Retention Scheme. 30 November 2020 was the last day employers can submit or change claims for periods ending on or before 31 October 2020.
1. Which employers are eligible under the CJRS Extension?
All UK organisations with employees can apply for support under the CJRS Extension. Importantly, organisations need not have previously accessed the CJRS.
Small and large businesses, charities, recruitment agencies (including in relation to agency workers who are required to be paid through PAYE) can apply. However, the Government guidance states that it does not expect those organisations that have staff costs publicly funded to apply for grants under the CJRS Extension. If a company is in administration, the Administrator will be able to apply for support provided there is a reasonable likelihood of the Administrator bringing the employee back to work after furlough.
2. Which employees are eligible under the CJRS?
Organisations can claim for all employees who were on the payroll on 30 October 2020, provided that a PAYE RTI submission notifying payment for that employee to HMRC has been made between 20 March 2020 and 30 October 2020. (Please note, this is not the case for employees who have been re-hired after 23 September 2020). Employees do not need to have previously accessed the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
3. Is there a maximum number of employees that can be furloughed under the CJRS Extension?
No. There is no maximum. Organisations can claim for employees on any type of employment contract, including full-time, part-time, agency, flexible or zero-hour contracts. Foreign nationals are also eligible to be furloughed.
4. What support can an employer receive under the CJRS Extension?
Employers must pay the employee as normal for the hours they work. From 1 November 2020 employers can claim 80% of an employee’s usual salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. Employers must pay employer NICs and pension contributions on the full amount paid to the employee, including any CJRS Extension grant. The Government plans to review the CJRS Extension in January 2021 to decide whether employers will be required to make a contribution thereafter.
Redundancy and re-hiring redundant employees
1. Can CJRS Extension grants be used to make redundancy payments?
No, grants cannot be used to substitute redundancy payments. Employers could previously continue to claim a CJRS Extension grant for a furloughed employee who is serving a statutory notice period. However, for claim periods starting on or after 1 December 2020. The Government has changed this approach so that employers will no long be able to claims grants in respect of those employees working their notice period.
2. Can employers continue to make redundancies?
Yes. Employers should bear in mind the usual employment law requirements, including giving notice and consulting staff before a final decision is reached. Redundancy payments and notice pay should be based on an employee’s normal wage rather than the reduced furlough wage. Given the Government’s change in approach around the use of the CJRS Extension grant to cover notice pay, employers may wish to consider the timing of planned redundancies and when notice should be given.
3. What are the costs and risks for an organisation if employees are re-hired?
Although employers may feel some moral pressure, there is no legal right to be re-hired. Bringing employees back will not be straightforward. The costs are still uncertain. Employer NICs and pension contributions will need to be paid for each re-hired employee. The re-hired employee will also continue to accrue holiday. The Government plans to review the CJRS Extension in January and employers may be required to make a more significant contribution to wages thereafter. Lastly, some organisations may have already made redundancy payments which would, in practice, be difficult to claw back. Employers must be careful not to directly, or indirectly, discriminate in deciding which employees to re-hire and must also consider how to manage the employee once the CJRS Extension comes to an end.
Agreements with employees
1. Does a furlough agreement need to be in writing?
Organisations must confirm in writing to the employee that they are being placed on furlough. The employee does not have to provide a written response. Employers will therefore need to extend existing furlough agreements or put in place new ones where an employee has not previously been furloughed. Organisations need to retain a written record of the agreement for five years for inspection by the HMRC so it is advisable for employers to require employees to confirm their agreement in writing.
2. Can employees be retrospectively furloughed?
Yes. Employers can retrospectively agree to furlough an employee with effect from 1 November 2020. The employee must agree on or before 13 November 2020.
3. Is there a minimum furlough period?
No. There is no minimum number of weeks or days that an employee must be on furlough. Employees can be brought back from furlough and placed back on furlough as necessary provided they meet the eligibility criteria. Please note, the period that organisations can claim for must be for a minimum period of seven calendar days.
1. Can CJRS Extension grants be used to pay employees for parental leave?
Yes. Organisations can claim through the scheme for enhanced contractual pay for employees who qualify for either maternity pay, adoption pay, paternity pay, shared parental pay, parental bereavement pay.
2. Can an employee shorten their maternity leave to be furloughed?
Yes, but employees returning from maternity leave need to give the statutory eight weeks’ notice to end maternity leave early in order to be furloughed. The wording of the new guidance suggests that this minimum notice period must be complied with. The employer and employee cannot agree to shorten this 8 week period.
1. Can CJRS Extension grants be used to pay clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) employees?
Yes. CEV employees have been advised to shield and not to attend the workplace during this lockdown. The guidance on shielding states that CEV employees should work from home where possible; where this is not possible, CEV employees should not attend the workplace. The Government guidance states that CEV employees can be placed on furlough. This will change with effect from 1 April 2021 as shielding will no longer be in place. CEV employees are advised to work from home where possible; where this is not possible CEV employees can attend the workplace. If CEV employees have concerns about attending the workplace and alternative arrangements can’t be made, the Government guidance states that they can be placed on furlough.
1. Can CJRS Extension grants be used to pay holiday?
Yes, although employees should not be placed on furlough simply because they are taking holiday for that period. Holidays should be paid at the employee’s normal rate of pay, so an employer must pay additional amounts over the grant. If an employee is flexibly furloughed then any hours taken as holiday during the claim period should be counted as furloughed hours rather than working hours.
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The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the date of publication and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.
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