Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) furlough extended until March

Boris Johnson announced new restrictions to come into force from Thursday 5 November after news of Lockdown 2.0 was leaked. A second national lockdown is aimed at curbing the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, and it will be in place until Wednesday 2 December.

Amongst his announcements was confirmation that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) also commonly referred to as ‘furlough’, would be extended for a month. This was later echoed on Twitter by Rishi Sunak. Since that initial announcement the Government has extended the scheme until March 2021, and further guidance was issued by HMRC on Tuesday 10 November.

The government is due to issue additional further guidance later in November in connection with the ongoing question of the underlying purpose of the scheme, in particular in relation to whether employees should be eligible to claim for employees serving contractual or statutory notice periods. In addition they will review the scheme again in January, to see if the economic circumstances have improved enough for employers to contribute more.

What does the new furlough extension look like?

In a nutshell, the furlough extension is currently the same as the August furlough rules, and:

  • Employees must have been on an RTI between 20 March 2020 and 30 October 2020
  • The employer does not need to have used the furlough scheme before
  • The employee does not need to have been furloughed before
  • There is no maximum number of employees who be claimed for under the extended scheme

Also of note in the latest guidance is the timeframe for submitting claims. Although the process for making a claim is the same as before, there is a shorter claim window from November onwards. In addition, from December, HMRC will publish names of employers who have made claims under the extended scheme

The extension is currently more generous for employers. In October, under the original scheme, employers were topping up furloughed wages by at least 20%, with the Government paying 60%. Now the Government will fund the full 80% (up to a cap of £2,500 per month) for November, December and January, with the employer covering the NI and pension.

Key points of the extended scheme

For now, the Government has postponed the Job Support Scheme (JSS); both the JSS Open and JSS Closed schemes, and the Job Retention bonus has been put on hold and won’t be paid in February. The government have said a ‘retention incentive’ will be deployed at the appropriate time. The latest developments with the extended CJRS are as follows:

  • The scheme is being extended until the end of March 2021
  • Employees must have been on an RTI between 20 March 2020 and 30 October 2020
  • The employer does not need to have used the furlough scheme before and the employee does not need to have been furloughed before
  • Employers will need employees’ agreement to either extend furlough or put new employees on furlough. It is possible to backdate furlough to 1 November 2020 provided that a retrospective agreement has been put in place by Friday 13 November
  • Employees on the payroll on 23 September, who have since been made redundant or stopped working, can be re-employed and put on the scheme
  • Employees on fixed term contracts that have expired since 23 September, can also be re-employed and put on the scheme
  • For the hours an employee does not work, the Government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500, and employers will pay employer National Insurance Contributions (NICs) and pension contributions
  • The employer will continue to meet all the costs of the hours worked; wages, employers national insurance and pension costs
  • Flexible furloughing will still be an option in addition to full-time furloughing. This allows employees to work part time and employer will receive a furlough grant for the hours not worked, up to the cap. Any employee can be flexibly furloughed, they do not need to have been furloughed before
  • Employers are not obliged to offer flexible furlough; if you have no work for an employee they can stay on full furlough
  • The same eligibility applies for employers in terms of a UK bank account and a UK PAYE scheme
  • Employees can be on any type of contract
  • 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
  • Employees who have been previously furloughed will continue to have their reference pay and hours based on previous calculations on the original scheme
  • Employees on fixed wages who have not been previously furloughed will have different pay and hours reference periods based on the last pay period ending prior to 30 October
  • Employees on variable wages who have not been previously furloughed will have reference pay calculated on average wages between the start of their employment or Monday 6 April 2020 and the day prior to their furlough leave period commencing
  • 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
  • All claims to October under the original scheme, still need to be filed by 30 November. That deadline has not been extended
  • November claims will need to be filed by 14 December, with claims relating to each subsequent month being submitted within 14 calendar days of the following month.

Government support and employer costs

  • For hours not worked by the employee, the Government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500.
  • The grant must be paid to the employee in full.
  • Employers will pay employer NICs and pension contributions and should continue to pay the employee for hours worked in the normal way.
  • These employer contributions are mandatory. If an employer cannot make the their contributions then the employee or employees concerned will need to be removed from the scheme.
  • As with the current CJRS, employers are still able to choose to top up employee wages above the scheme grant at their own expense, if they wish.

Claim submission dates

Claim for furlough days in:

 

Claim must be submitted by:

 

November 2020

14 December 2020

December 2020

14 January 2021

January 2021

15 February 2021

February 2021

15 March 2021

March 2021

14 April 2021

 

HMRC may accept a claim made after the relevant deadline, if an employer had a reasonable excuse for failing to make a claim in time, and the employer then claimed without delay after the excuse no longer applied.

HMRC will not consider reasonable excuses in advance of a claim deadline.

Over claim

If an employer has claimed too much through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, or the employer would like to make a voluntary repayment because they do not want or need the grant to pay your employees’ wages, tax and National Insurance and pension contributions, the employer can either:

  • correct it in their next claim (the new claim will be reduced and the employer will need to keep a record of the adjustment for 6 years)
  • get a payment reference number and pay HMRC back within 30 days (only if the employer is not making another claim)

Under claim

If an employer made an error in their claims before 31 October that has resulted in them receiving too little money, the employer will still need to make sure they pay their employees the correct amount. The employer should contact HMRC on or before 30 November, to amend the claim and as employer is increasing the amount of your claim, HMRC may need to conduct additional checks.

30 November 2020 is the last day that you can submit claims for periods ending on or before 31 October 2020. After this date you will not be able to:

  • submit any further claims for periods ending on or before 31 October 2020
  • add to existing claims for periods on or before 31 October 2020

For claims relating to periods after 1 November 2020, the employer will only be able to increase the amount of their claim if they amend the claim within 28 calendar days after the month the claim relates to (unless this falls on a weekend, and then it is the next working day).

To amend a claim for:

 

You must amend the claim by 11:59pm on:

 

November 2020

29 December 2020

December 2020

28 January 2020

January 2021

1 March 2020

February 2021

29 March 2020

March 2021

28 April 2020

 

This post was written by Stuart Curtis, Partner at Price Bailey. If you have any questions relating to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) or the Job Support Scheme (JSS) you can contact Stuart on the form below.

 

We always recommend that you seek advice from a suitably qualified adviser before taking any action. The information in this article only serves as a guide and no responsibility for loss occasioned by any person acting or refraining from action as a result of this material can be accepted by the authors or the firm.

 

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