Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: Treasury moves employment cut off date for furloughing employees

Please Note: All information correct at time of writing on 15 April 2020. We do our very best to make sure our information is as up to date as possible, but we’d encourage you to check out our latest articles and to check the government website for updates as they happen.

The Treasury issued a direction today under the Coronavirus Act 2020, requiring HMRC to be responsible for the payment and management of amounts to be paid under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). The Direction attaches a Schedule setting out further details of the scheme and the CJRS Employers’ guide has been updated to take into account some (but not all) of the matters covered in the Schedule.

We’ve summarised the main points from the direction below.

Reimbursement

Although the Schedule to the Direction, repeatedly refers to ‘reimbursement’ of wage costs, it does state that these are costs which have been “incurred or to be incurred” and therefore the fact that payment has not been made does not seem to be a bar to making a claim.

Definition of a furloughed employee

The definition given in the scheme of a furloughed employee is one where:

  • (a) the employee has been instructed by the employer to cease all work in relation to their employment
  • (b) the period for which the employee has ceased (or will have ceased) all work for the employer is 21 calendar days or more
  • (c) the instruction is given by reason of circumstances arising as a result of coronavirus or coronavirus disease

The Schedule goes on to state:

“An employee has been instructed by the employer to cease all work in relation to their employment only 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”.

This is further evidence that agreement to furlough and not just notification will be required.

More than one PAYE scheme

If an employer has more than one qualifying PAYE scheme:

  • (a) the employer must make a separate claim in relation to each scheme, and
  • (b) the amount of any payment under CJRS will be calculated separately in relation to each scheme

Sick pay

The guidance continues to state:

“If, however, employers want to furlough employees for business reasons and they are currently off sick, they are eligible to do so, as with other employees. In these cases, the employee should no longer receive sick pay and would be classified as a furloughed employee”.

The Treasury’s Schedule says where SSP is payable or liable to be payable (regardless of whether a claim for SSP is made) at the time the employee is put on furlough, the minimum three-week period does not begin until the original SSP has ended.

It is unclear as to whether this limits the extent to which employers can move employees on SSP to furlough while there is a current fit note in place (which would make SSP payable).

Presumably, when this comes to an end, they could then be put on furlough. The Schedule goes on to say that if the employee becomes unfit to work later and therefore a subsequent entitlement to SSP arises, this can be disregarded if the employee is on furlough.

Unpaid leave

If an employee started unpaid leave after 28 February 2020, you can put them on furlough instead.

If an employee went on unpaid leave on or before 28 February, you cannot furlough them until the date on which it was agreed they would return from unpaid leave.

Who can claim?

The employer’s guidance has been changed to reflect the fact that the employer must have created and started a PAYE payroll scheme on or before 19 March 2020 (previously 28 February).

Employment start date

In the biggest change, the cut off point for employing eligible employees has been changed from 28 February to cover employees who were:

  • on PAYE payroll on or before 19 March and
  • who were notified to HMRC on an RTI submission on or before 19 March 2020

Employees who had left employment after 28 February

Employees who were employed as of 28 February 2020 and on payroll (i.e. notified to HMRC on aReal Time Information submission on or before 28 February) and were made redundant or stopped working for the employer after 28 February and before 19 March , can also be furloughed if the employer chooses to re-employ them and put them on furlough. This will be the case even if the employer chooses to re-employ after 19 March.

Information needed to make a claim

The up to date list of information needed to make a claim is:

  • your employer PAYE reference number
  • the number of employees being furloughed
  • National Insurance Numbers for the furloughed employees
  • Names of the furloughed employees
  • Payroll/employee number for the furloughed employees (optional)
  • your Self-Assessment Unique Taxpayer Reference or Corporation Tax Unique Taxpayer Reference or Company Registration Number
  • the claim period (start and end date)
  • amount claimed (per the minimum length of furloughing of 3 consecutive weeks)
  • your bank account number and sort code
  • your contact name
  • your phone number

If you have fewer than 100 furloughed staff you will be asked to enter details of each employee you are claiming for directly into the system – this will include their name, National Insurance number, claim period and claim amount, and payroll/employee number (optional).

If you have 100 or more furloughed staff, you will be asked to upload a file with the information rather than input it directly into the system. We will accept the following file types: .xls .xlsx .csv .ods

The file should include the following information for each furloughed employee: name, National Insurance number, claim period and claim amount, payroll/employee number (optional).

Employers should retain all records and calculations in respect of their claims (presumably for five years).

Keeping you updated on how to protect your business through COVID-19

These are uncertain times, especially for employers and business owners. Our HR and Employment Law experts are tracking the news and latest government updates to help you understand what’s available to you to keep your business running throughout the coming weeks of changes.

Keep an eye on our latest articlesfree guides and social media for more advice and guidance. And if you’re already a Citation client, you can call our advice line on 0345 844 4848.

If you’re not yet a client of ours and you want the advice and backing of a team of HR and Employment Law experts feel free to give our team a call on 0345 844 1111 to talk through your business needs. Or, simply fill out your details in the form opposite and we’ll be in touch as soon as possible.

 

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