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CORONAVIRUS JOB RETENTION SCHEME – UPDATED GUIDANCE FOR EMPLOYERS

The Government has published further guidance on the CJRS. You can read it here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

The key points are listed below and some of these are:-

• the scheme is open to all UK employers that had created and started a PAYE scheme on 28 February 2020, and have a UK bank account.

• any UK organisation with employees can apply.

• employers can reclaim up to 80% of wage costs up to a cap of £2,500 per month, plus (not including) the associated Employer NICs and minimum auto-enrolment pension contributions on that wage. Fees, commissions and bonuses are not included.

• an employer can choose to top up to 100%, but does not have to (subject to employment law and renegotiating any contractual entitlements)

• for employees whose pay varies, the employer can claim for the higher of (i) the same month’s earning from the previous year (eg earnings from March 2019); or (ii) average monthly earnings in the 2019-20 tax year

• individuals are only entitled to the minimum wage for the hours they work. So, if they are furloughed and do not work, and 80% of their normal earnings would take them below the minimum wage based on their normal working hours, they still only receive 80% as they are not working. However, they are entitled to be paid NMW for any time spent training.

• to be eligible, the employee must have been on the payroll on 28 February 2020. If they were hired later, they are not eligible. Anybody who was on the payroll on 28 Feb and has since been made redundant can be rehired and put on the scheme

• furlough leave must be taken in minimum blocks of three weeks to be eligible for funding

• there is nothing in the guidance which prohibits rotating furlough leave amongst employees, provided each employee is off for a period of at least three weeks

• the employee must not be working at all. If they work for even an hour (presumably during their entire three week furlough period), they are not eligible. However, they are able to undertake training and do volunteer work, provided they do not provide services that make any money for their employer.

• employees on sick pay or self-isolating cannot be furloughed but can be furloughed afterwards. Employees who are shielding can be placed on furlough.

• employees on maternity (or similar) leave can continue to draw SMP (or similar) payments. The guidance does not prohibit women on maternity leave agreeing to return to work early and then being furloughed, or electing to change to shared parental leave and then being furloughed.

• employers can only claim once every three weeks, ie they cannot get weekly reimbursement. Claims can be backdated to 1 March 2020.

Furloughing employees constitutes a change to their contract of employment and it is important that you take employment law advice prior to placing employees on furlough leave.

The Government will issue further guidance on the mechanics of claiming the payment in due course and expects the scheme will be up and running by the end of April.


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