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

Under the scheme announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak last month, employers can claim a grant covering 80% of the wages for a furloughed employee, subject to a cap of £2,500 a month.

To qualify and to protect against fraudulent claims, individuals originally had to be employed on February 28 2020.

But following a review of the delivery system and to ensure the scheme helps as many people as possible, new guidance published today has confirmed the eligibility date has been extended to March 19 2020– the day before the scheme was announced.

Employers can claim for furloughed employees that were employed and on their PAYE payroll on or before 19 March 2020. This means that the employee must have been notified to HMRC through an RTI submission notifying payment in respect of that employee on or before 19 March 2020.

This change makes the scheme more generous while keeping the substantial fraud risks under control and is expected to benefit over 200,000 employees.

HMRC have been working at pace to delivering the scheme, which is due to be fully operational next week.

The CJRS is part of an unprecedented package of measures announced by the Chancellor to protect individuals and businesses.

This includes significant support for the self employed and immediate steps to give businesses access to cash to pay its rent, salaries or suppliers.

If any employer now thinks they are eligible for support, they can find out more here.

Employees you can claim for

You can only claim for furloughed employees that were on your PAYE payroll on or before 19 March 2020 and which were notified to HMRC on an RTI submission on or before 19 March 2020.This means an RTI submission notifying payment in respect of that employee to HMRC must have been made on or before 19 March 2020. Employees that were employed as of 28 February 2020 and on payroll (i.e. notified to HMRC on an RTI submission on or before 28 February) and were made redundant or stopped working for the employer after that and prior to 19 March 2020, can also qualify for the scheme if the employer re-employs them and puts them on furlough.

Employees can be on any type of employment contract, including full-time, part-time, agency, flexible or zero-hour contracts. Foreign nationals are eligible to be furloughed. Grants under the scheme are not counted as ‘access to public funds’, and you can furlough employees on all categories of visa.

To be eligible for the grant, when on furlough, an employee cannot undertake work for, or on behalf, of the organisation or any linked or associated organisation. This includes providing services or generating revenue. Employers are free to consider allocating any critical business tasks to staff that are not furloughed. While on furlough, the employee’s wage will be subject to usual income tax and other deductions.

If your employee is self-isolating or on sick leave

If your employee is on sick leave or self-isolating as a result of Coronavirus, they’ll be able to get Statutory Sick Pay, subject to other eligibility conditions applying. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is not intended for short-term absences from work due to sickness, and there is a 3 week minimum furlough period.

Short term illness/ self-isolation should not be a consideration in deciding whether to furlough an employee. 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.

Employers are also entitled to furlough employees who are being shielded or off on long-term sick leave. It is up to employers to decide whether to furlough these employees. You can claim back from both the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the SSP rebate scheme for the same employee but not for the same period of time. When an employee is on furlough, you can only reclaim expenditure through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, and not the SSP rebate scheme. If a non-furloughed employee becomes ill, needs to self-isolate or be shielded, then you might qualify for the SSP rebate scheme, enabling you to claim up to two weeks of SSP per employee.

If your employee becomes sick while furloughed

Furloughed employee retain their statutory rights, including their right to Statutory Sick Pay. This means that furloughed employees who become ill must be paid at least Statutory Sick Pay. It is up to employers to decide whether to move these employees onto Statutory Sick Pay or to keep them on furlough, at their furloughed rate.

If a furloughed employee who becomes sick is moved onto SSP, employers can no longer claim for the furloughed salary. Employers are required to pay SSP themselves, although may qualify for a rebate for up to 2 weeks of SSP. If employers keep the sick furloughed employee on the furloughed rate, they remain eligible to claim for these costs through the furloughed scheme.

Shielding Employees

Employees who are unable to work because they are shielding in line with public health guidance (or need to stay home with someone who is shielding) can be furloughed.

Employees with caring responsibilities

Employees who are unable to work because they have caring responsibilities resulting from coronavirus (COVID-19) can be furloughed. For example, employees that need to look after children can be furloughed.

Get in touch

For the vast majority of employers, furlough will leave you in unchartered waters, leading you to a lot of reading and potentially carrying additional stress. If you would like us to help you make sense of any of the Government updates including furlough please contact us.

 

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