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What employers need to know about furloughing staff through the recently extended Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough).

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme was put into place to support employers and employees, and avoid staff redundancies as a result of COVID-19.

Originally expected to close at the end of October 2020, the CJRS has since been extended.

 

This means that employers are able to furlough staff until

the end of April 2021.

 

To save you from the jargon, our CJRS guide talks you through the scheme.

What is the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme extension?

The scheme is for employers of staff who would otherwise have been laid off due to the impact of COVID-19 in the UK.

Instead of making staff redundant, employers can furlough their employees and claim a government grant to help them with employment costs.

The CJRS extension grant is largely similar to what was available to employers in August.

What do employers pay when claiming the CJRS extension?

Infographic showing Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme Pay Breakdown

 

When will the CJRS extension grant be paid?

Previous versions of the CJRS grant have been paid in arrears, meaning that employers have had to up-front the cost themselves, before claiming the grant back.

 

Crucially for employers, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme extension grant will be paid up-front.

 

The government have warned that there will be a brief transition period where employers will continue to receive the grant in arrears.

 

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Who is eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme extension?

The CJRS grant is open to any UK based employer with a PAYE scheme.

What if I’ve never used the CJRS before?

Employers can claim support using the extended Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, even if they’ve never previously used it.

Which employees can I claim the CJRS extension for?

Our graphic below shows which employees you’ll be able to claim the CJRS extension for.

infographic explaining to employers which employees can be furloughed under the coronavirus job retention scheme

What is the minimum amount of time that I can claim for an employee?

Employers can use the CJRS to claim for a minimum period of 7 days. These must be consecutive days.

Can director’s use the CJRS extension?

Directors have been able to claim the CJRS grant through previous versions of the scheme, so it’s expected this will still be the case.

The difficulty for company directors is that they typically take a lower salary as an employee through payroll, and then top this up with dividends.

Because the scheme is based on what goes through payroll, directors of limited companies might not be able to claim much support.

Can staff work whilst furloughed under the CJRS extension?

When the scheme first launched furloughed staff were not permitted to work, but subsequent versions of the scheme have been more flexible.

So, this means that you might:

From an employee’s perspective, they’re also allowed to freelance whilst on furlough, or continue working for another employer as usual.

How do I work out an employee’s usual hours for CJRS?

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme guidance refers to your employee’s usual hours. Our table shows you how to work out usual hours, depending on whether your employee works a fixed number of hours or variable hours.

Working out the usual hours for claiming CJRS when employees work fixed or variable hours

What are usual hours for employees who work a fixed number of hours? What are usual hours for employees who work a variable number of hours?
Fixed hours mean that the employee is contracted to work the same number of hours each pay period. Working variable hours means that your employee isn’t contracted to work a set number of hours, and you pay them depending on the hours they work.
The calculation for working out fixed hours comes directly from HMRC guidance which includes working examples.

In your calculation, include periods where the employee was on leave, off sick, or had family statutory leave as if the leave had not been taken.

The usual hours will be the greater of either:

  • The number of hours that your employee worked over the same period in the 2019-20 tax year.

OR

  • The average number of hours that your employee worked during the 2019-20 tax year

Staff that are still able to work from home should do so whilst receiving their normal salary. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is only for the hours that employees are unable to work due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

When does the furlough scheme open?

The grant is for claims which cover 1st November 2020 onwards, though employers have not yet been told when they’ll be able to submit their claims for that period.

When does furlough under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme extension end?

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has now been further extended, and will operate until the end of April 2021. The Chancellor confirmed an additional month of support beyond the previous end date of March, in an announcement on 17th December 2020.

What is happening with the Job Support Scheme?

Originally expected to launch on 1st November 2020, the Job Support Scheme (JSS) has been postponed. This is because the government have extended the Coronavirus Job Support Scheme until the end of April 2021.

Can I still claim the Job Retention Bonus?

The Job Retention Bonus was originally available for employers whose previously furloughed staff were continuously employed until January 2021. As the furlough scheme has since been extended until the end of April 2021, the Job Retention Bonus no longer applies.

In his statement announcing the CJRS extension, Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed that another incentive scheme will be made available when the time is right.

 

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How do I use the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to make a claim?

To use the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, you will need to report:

You’ll also need the following:
Also required:

Can a furloughed employee hand in their notice?

Yes, an employee can give notice that they’re leaving an employer even while furloughed under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Being on furlough doesn’t affect their normal contractual rights.

Will HMRC publish my details if I claim CJRS for employees?

Yes, HMRC confirm that they start publishing the details of furlough claims from December 2020 onwards. The information is to be available on the GOV.UK website, showing:

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