Find up to date information on COVID-19 and the Job Retention Scheme. Information updated daily.
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The Job Retention scheme (JRS or CJRS) is designed to help employers retain staff during the coronavirus pandemic, even if they are forced to temporarily shut their business. Employers will be able to claim a grant from HMRC to cover most of the wages of their workforce who remain on payroll but who are temporarily not working during the coronavirus outbreak.
Any employer in the country is eligible for the scheme, provided that it had a PAYE scheme in operation on 19 March 2020.
The legal basis for the scheme is contained in the UK Treasury direction. HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has published guidance on the operation of the scheme.
The Treasury direction differs from the guidance which employers have relied on from the opening of the scheme in some important respects, and should in theory take precedence over the guidance. However, as HMRC issued revised guidance after the Treasury direction was issued, and as HMRC’s online portal requires a declaration that employers have complied with the guidance rather than the direction, it seems clear that HMRC intends to act on the basis of the guidance, and it views the guidance as being in line with the Treasury direction.
Pure Education Supply Staff can take on new work for other employers during furlough, providing that the new employer is not linked t0 Pure Education.
Employers can apply for grants of 80% of furloughed UK employees’ gross monthly earnings, subject to a cap of £2,500 a month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance Contributions (NICs) and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on that wage, provided they keep the individual on payroll. The CJRS will cover the cost of earnings backdated to 1 March 2020, if applicable. The amount claimed for NICs cannot be more than 13.8% of the grant claimed for employee’s wages. Claims should only cover the period from when an employee finishes work and starts furlough, and not from the date of the decision or when the employee is written to confirming their furloughed status.
Any employees not yet furloughed, must be furloughed no later than Wednesday (10 June 2020) if they are to be eligible for support during the final four months of the scheme.
Employers intending to use Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) from 1 July 2020, can only do it with employees who have been furloughed for a minimum of three weeks on or before 30 June 2020.
The original ‘mark 1’ version of the CJRS closes on 30 June 2020. From 1 July to 31 October 2020, it will be replaced with a revised ‘mark 2’ version of the scheme which will allow employers to bring furloughed staff back into work on a part-time basis.
But, based on the latest available information, only employees furloughed for a minimum of three continuous weeks at some point between 1 March and 30 June 2020 under the ‘mark 1’ scheme can be included in any claims under the ‘mark 2’ scheme.
The ‘mark 2’ scheme therefore requires employees to have had a qualifying furlough period under the ‘mark 1’ scheme. This means that the final date by which an employer can furlough a member of staff who has not previously been furloughed – but whom they may wish to include under the ‘mark 2’ scheme – is 10 June 2020.
24/03/2020 Following the extensive measures outlined by the Chancellor on Friday 20 March to help businesses and workers cope with the unprecedented effects of the coronavirus crisis, the government has now released initial guidance on the proposed Job Retention Scheme which it intends to put in place to assist businesses with preventing job loss by helping to pay a significant proportion of the wages of those workers whose jobs are at risk.
The guidance, which can be found here, is limited and does not go into any great detail on how the scheme will work. However, the headline points are as follows:
- All UK businesses are eligible
- To access the scheme, employers will need to designate employees as “furloughed workers” and notify affected employees of this
- Information about the furloughed employees and their earnings will be submitted to HMRC by the employer thorough an online portal
- HMRC will then reimburse up to 80% of the wage costs for each furloughed worker up to a cap of £2,500 a month per worker
- Employees will remain employed whilst furloughed
- Employers can choose to pay the remaining 20% of the furloughed employees’ wages (or top up wages where the cap applies) but they do not have to
- To qualify for the scheme, employees should not undertake work for their employer whilst they are furloughed and receiving pay under the scheme
- The scheme is initially intended to run for 3 months from 1 March 2020 but will extend if necessary
20//03/2020 The Government announced the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to provide support for employers to enable them to continue paying part of their employees’ salaries rather than lay them off.
To place an employee on furlough leave, employers must instruct them in writing to cease work for at least three consecutive weeks “by reason of circumstances arising as a result of coronavirus or coronavirus disease”.
It is currently unclear whether employees must agree in writing to furlough leave. In particular:
- The Direction states that a furlough leave instruction will only be valid if “the employer and employee have agreed in writing (which may be in an electronic form such as an email) that the employee will cease all work in relation to their employment”.
- However, the government updated its guidance after the Direction was published to state that, while employers needed to confirm furlough leave to employees in writing, the employee does not need to provide a written response so long as the employer’s confirmation was “consistent with employment law”.
20/04/2020 The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme portal went live.
The portal allows businesses to submit information in respect of their furloughed employees in order to recover 80% of a furloughed employee’s wages up to a maximum of £2,500 per month (plus employer NI and pension contributions).
In addition to activating the portal, the government has produced a number of additional resources to assist with claims and calculations.
29/05/2020 The government announced that the CJRS will be extended until 31 October 2020 with some added flexibility for employers from 1 July 2020.
From 1 July 2020, employers will be able to bring employees previously on furlough back to work on a part-time basis (“flexible furloughing”). This is a month earlier than previously announced. From 1 July, there will be no minimum furlough period, although a claim under the scheme must cover a period of at least one week. When working, employees should be paid their “normal” wage, whilst they will receive the furlough grant for the remainder of their usual working hours. The grant and the £2,500 cap on the furlough grant will be reduced in proportion to the hours not worked. Further guidance on flexible furloughing will be published on 12 June.
From 1 August, employers will be required to make a, gradually increasing, contribution towards the salaries of their furloughed staff. Employees will continue to receive the 80% of their current wages, up to £2,500 a month.
In August, the government contribution towards wages will remain 80% (subject to the cap). But employers will be required to contribute employer national insurance and pension contributions. In September, employers will also be required to contribute 10% of wages and the government will contribute 70%. For October, the employer contribution increases to 20% and the government will contribute 60%. The scheme will close from the end of October.
The furlough scheme will be closed to new entrants from 30 June. This means that the last date for employees to be furloughed for the first time is 10 June, to enable them to complete the minimum 3-week furlough period by 30 June. All claims for the period ending 30 June must be completed by Friday 31 July.
From 1 July, the number of employees an employer can claim for in any claim period cannot exceed the maximum number they have claimed for under any previous claim.
The government has released guidance on holiday entitlement and pay during coronavirus which includes the government’s view on holidays and furlough. This does not currently cover flexible furlough.
The updated TD clarified certain issues and extended the CJRS to 30 June 2020 but does not deal with the Chancellor’s latest announcements about the scheme from July onwards.
15/05/2020 The Treasury confirmed that Agency workers on a contract for services may not be entitled to the accrual of holiday or to take holiday under the Working Time Regulations while on furlough because they are not workers or treated as workers under those regulations when between assignments or otherwise not working on assignments. Contracts may nevertheless include holiday provisions which will continue to operate in the same way as they did prior to the furlough period. Click here for guidance on holiday entitlement for temporary workers on a contract for services.
30/06/2020 Pure Education confirms that Furlough will be offered to staff in August.
08/06/2020 HMRC confirms that the scheme will close to new entrants on June 30, 2020. The final date by which an employer can furlough an employee for the first time will be June 10, in order for the current three-week minimum furlough period to be completed by June 30.
01/07/2020 Flexible furlough is now active.
01/08/2020 Employers will start contributing towards the CJRS by re-gaining responsibility for Employers National Insurance and Pensions payments.