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Coronavirus guidance for employers

The Government have confirmed that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has now been extended until 30th September 2021. This means that if a business cannot maintain its workforce because its operations have been affected by coronavirus, employees can be furloughed (either on a full or flexible basis) and employers can apply for a grant to cover a portion of their usual monthly wage costs where they are recorded as being on furlough.

The Government have also confirmed that statutory and contractual notice periods will not be covered by the CJRS from 1st December 2020.

The monthly deadlines to submit claims, are as follows:

  • The final date to submit claims for March 2021 is 14th April 2021
  • The final date to submit claims for April 2021 is 14th May 2021
  • The final date to submit claims for May 2021 is 14th June 2021
  • The final date to submit claims for June 2021 is 14th July 2021
  • The final date to submit claims for July 2021 is 16th August 2021
  • The final date to submit claims for August 2021 is 14th September 2021
  • The final date to submit claims for September 2021 is 14th October 2021

It is no longer possible to submit claims ending on or before 31st October 2020.

The CJRS extension will see eligible employees receive 80% of their current salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 each month and employers will continue to pay employer National Insurance Contributions and pension contributions for the hours the employee does not work. Employers will however be required to contribute towards the CJRS rates in due course as the Government reduces its contributions with effect from 1 July 20201 (see below).

For claim periods between 1 November and 30th April 2021, for employees to be eligible under the CJRS, they must have been on the employer’s PAYE payroll from 23:59 on 30th October 2020, meaning that a Real Time Information (‘RTI’) submission, notifying payment for that employee to HMRC, must have been made on or before 30th October 2020. Employers do not need to have previously claimed for an employee before 30th October 2020 in order for them to be eligible.

For claim periods starting on or after 1st May 2021, for employees to be eligible under the CJRS, they must have been on the employer’s PAYE payroll from 23:59 on 2nd  March 2021, meaning that a Real Time Information (‘RTI’) submission, notifying payment for that employee to HMRC, must have been made on between 20th  March 2020 and 2nd  March 2021. Again, employers do not need to have previously claimed for an employee before 2nd March 2021 to claim for periods starting on or after 1st May 2021.

As previously:

  • Employees can be on any type of contract. Employers will be able to 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. The calculation of normal hours and reference periods differs depending on the circumstances. The full guidance regarding reference periods and calculating hours where employees are on fixed/variable hours can be found here
  • When claiming the CJRS grant for furloughed hours, employers will need to report and claim for a minimum period of 7 consecutive calendar days.
  • Employers will 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.
  • Employers can choose to top up the furlough pay if they wish, however there is no requirement to do so.

Contribution rates

For claim periods ending on or before 30th June 2021 employers can claim 80% of an employee’s usual salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.

However, from the 1st July 2021, the level of grant will be reduced each month and the employer will be required to contribute towards the cost of furloughed employee’s wages. To be eligible for the grant employers must continue to pay their furlough employees 80% of their wages, up to a cap of £2,500 per month for the time the employee spends on furlough. The contributions will change as follows:

  • From 1st July 2021 the Government will contribute 70% (up to £2,187.50) towards the employees’ wages for hours not worked each month, and the employer will be required to contribute 10% (up to £312.50) towards the employee’s wages for hours not worked, together with employer National Insurance and pension contributions.
  • From 1st August 2021 the Government will contribute 60% (up to £1,875) towards the employee’s wages for hours not worked, and the employer will be required to contribute 20% (up to £625) towards the employees’ wages for hours not worked, together with employer National Insurance and pension contributions.

Businesses will have the flexibility to bring furloughed employees back to work on a part time basis or furlough them full time subject to business need and neither the employer or the employee needs to have previously used the CJRS to be eligible under the extension.

Record keeping

Employers must keep a copy of all CJRS claim records for 6 years, including:

  • The amount claimed and claim period for each employee
  • The claim reference number
  • Details of the claim calculations in case HMRC need more information about the claim
  • Details of usual hours worked, including any calculations that were required, for employees flexibly furloughed
  • Actual hours worked for employees flexibly furloughed.

Employers are also required to retain copies of the furlough agreements, entered into with affected employees, for a period of 5 years.

Employer claim information that HMRC will make public

From February 2021, HMRC will publish information about employers who claim under the CJRS for periods starting on or after 1st December 2020. This information will include:

  • The employer name;
  • An indication of the value of the claim within a banded range; and
  • The company number for companies and Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs).

From February 2021, HMRC will also be improving the information available to furloughed employees by including details of claims made for them, from 1st December 2020 in their Personal Tax Account on GOV.UK.

HMRC will not publish details of employers claiming through the scheme if the employer can demonstrate that publicising these would result in serious risk of violence of intimidation to certain relevant individuals, or any individuals living with them. If you consider this would apply to your business, you need to contact HMRC with evidence of this risk.

For further guidance on the Coronavirus and symptoms please go to:
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/wuhan-novel-coronavirus/

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-employees-employers-and-businesses 

If you have any questions regarding what you should be doing or implementing policies and procedures please contact a member of the Employment Team who will be happy to help.

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