The Chancellor has helped businesses and their employees by creating a scheme with the aim of preventing mass redundancies!
Part of a £350bn coronavirus rescue package for the UK economy aimed at the private sector, The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme was conceptualised very quickly and is one of several initiatives to support employers through the pandemic.
In this blog post we explain the scheme and how it works. Further support is also available on the coronavirus business support website.
The aim of CJRS is to help all businesses by not making staff redundant during the coronavirus outbreak. The idea is these employees are 'furloughed', retained by the business but kept at home with their wages in part covered by the government.
This then means these employees can go back to their workplace when the health and economic environments improve. Below we cover all the aspects you need to know about CJRS:
Where there's a lack of work or business closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a payroll worker isn't made redundant. Instead the employer accesses government support to pay 80% of their wages, up £2,500 per month, whilst they stay at home potentially until the end of October 2020.
CJRS is available until the end of October 2020 and is administered as a grant from the government. Claims can be backdated to 1 March 2020, to make use of the scheme you need to:
1. CJRS will be available to all employees that are on your payroll as of 19 March 2020.
2. You can only claim the grant once you have agreed with the members of your staff that they are to be furloughed. That means they stop working for you.
3. Furloughed employees can't do any work for you as their employer during the furlough period, it is for staff who are without work.
4. The grant will be paid to you through the online portal system.
5. You will then pay employees through your payroll and HMRC will reimburse you after that.
6. The grant per employee is 80% of usual monthly wages up to £2,500 (whichever is lower) plus the associated Employer National Insurance Contributions and minimum auto enrolment pension contributions.
7. CJRS is temporary but open to all UK employers who have created and started submitting a payroll filing by 19 March 2020.
8. If you want to top up pay levels, you can, but you will not be able to claim for more than 80 per cent of salary up to £2,500.
9. If you apply top up salary then Employer National Insurance Contributions and auto enrolment on the additional top-up salary will not be funded through the scheme.
10. Whether your employment contract with furloughed employees needs to be re-negotiated is a matter for employment law.
11. An employee may be furloughed in their employment with you, however, this doesn't impact their employment with another business where relevant.
12. Furloughed employees can be of any contract type which includes full-time employees, part-time employees, flexible or zero-hours contracts, and those on agency contracts as long as they are included in the payroll submissions.
13. Employees on unpaid leave can't be furloughed unless they were placed on unpaid leave after 1 March 2020.
14. Employees on sick leave and receiving Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), can't be furloughed until after SSP ends.
15. Where employees qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP), the normal rules apply.
16. For the calculation, full-time and part-time employees salaries, before 19 March 2020, should be used as the calculation for the 80% grant. Bonuses and discretionary commissions can't be included.
17. Where employees pay varies and they've been employed by your business for 12 months you can claim for the higher of the same month’s earning from the previous year, or average monthly earnings from the 2019-20 tax year.
18. Where employees pay varies and they've been employed by your business for less than a year, the calculation is based on their average earnings from when they first started working.
19. If you have already terminated an employees contract, the scheme covers employees who were made redundant between 1 March to 19 March 2020, you just need to rehire them.
The HMRC online portal opened from Monday 20 April 2020. You can access it through the HMRC website using your online PAYE account. It is therefore essential you know your passwords and be sure to test check you can actually get on it. By doing that you'll be ready to apply straight away.
Be prepared, make sure you do your calculations so they are ready from the previous working month. The portal won't do any calculations for you. Review the below checklist carefully in advance of the launch date. If you use payroll software then you should be able to extract this.
You will be able to make a claim every 3 weeks. Claims should be made to HMRC when you run, or just in advance of when you run your payroll. You will need to calculate the amount you are claiming on an individual basis. To make a claim you'll need:
Importantly, HMRC will retain the right to retrospectively audit all aspects of your claim.
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, 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. The file should include the following information for each furloughed employee:
Salaried company directors can also be furloughed if a board deems it necessary. Needless to say directors may need to implement particular duties so that a company fulfils its statutory obligations. Where this is the case, the furloughed director may do so but no more than what is reasonably required for such tasks.
Their work, while furloughed, can't include things that generate revenue or services to customers or clients. The same regulation applies to contractors who are directors of their own personal service company.
Originally the Chancellor announced CJRS was due to expire at the end of June. Given the likelihood of a slow economic recovery out of lockdown, the government have extended the scheme to the end of October 2020, and in its present form to the end of July 2020.
The next steps for a ‘flexible furlough’ were brought to light by Rishi Sunak with a view to support and prepare businesses for a transition period in which people return to work. CJRS is set to remain as is for June and July with changes being phased in from August.
In July, employers will be able to exercise a ‘flexible furlough’ policy which means that employees will be able to return to work on a part-time basis whilst being furloughed. This has been seen as a key component to getting businesses and the economy up and running again.
Employers will be able to decide on hours of work and shift patterns, but the furloughed employee will not be allowed to resume full-time status.
Beginning in August, employers will be asked to share some of the cost of the furlough scheme but the bulk of it will still be covered by the government. Employers will have to pay the employer NICs and pensions contributions on the furlough pay. Furloughed employees will however continue to receive 80% of their salary up to £2,500.
September will see the biggest alteration to the scheme up to this point as the government begins to taper off their contribution reducing it from 80% to 70%, leaving employers to pay the remaining 10% of the furlough pay.
The final phase of the furlough scheme will take place in October when employers will be responsible for paying 20% of the furlough pay while the government will reduce its contribution to 60%. After October, the scheme will come to an end and the government will stop all contributions.
For further advice and support in relation to these matters, be sure to get in touch.
The content of this post was created on 20/04/2020 and updated on 02/06/2020.
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