Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme - where are we now?
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has been amended, updated and extended in many ways since its introduction on 20 March 2020. As the scheme begins to wind down, what do employers and employees need to know?
The CJRS is now due to end on 31 October 2020, following a scaling down of support and the introduction of flexible furlough on 1 July 2020. Flexible furlough enables employees to work the proportion of their hours that best suits the needs of the business, whilst enabling employers to claim a grant under the CJRS for periods during which the employees remain on furlough when they would otherwise have been expected to work.
Since the instigation of the CJRS, there have been a number of Directions provided by the Treasury alongside guidance from HMRC. The latest iteration of the Direction, published on 25 June 2020, has been introduced to modify the effect of the CJRS and to provide further detail regarding the flexible furlough scheme, which came into effect from 1 July 2020.
The most recent Direction and HMRC guidance can be found here:
The Government has advised that the key points of the CJRS, as it currently stands, are:
- the scheme will no longer continue after 31 October 2020;
- from 30 June 2020, employers are only able to furlough employees whom they have already furloughed for a full three week period prior to 30 June (unless the employees are returning from maternity or other family leave);
- employers must submit claims for furlough periods up to 30 June on or before 31 July;
- from 1 July 2020, employers can bring back to work employees who have previously been furloughed for any amount of time and any shift pattern, while still being able to claim the grant for their normal hours not worked. When claiming the grant for furloughed hours, employers will need to report and claim for a minimum period of a week, with all claim periods starting and finishing in the same calendar month;
- from September, employers will be required to pay 10% of furlough payments and, in October, employers will need to pay 20%. However, for furlough pay from 1 August, employers will not be able to claim their employer national insurance contributions and employer pension contributions as they had been able to do before;
- furlough pay for employees re-engaged by an employer can still be claimed but this area is complex and employers should think carefully before doing so;
- no previously agreed period of unpaid leave or sabbatical will be covered - it must first expire;
- employees to whom TUPE applies are covered by the flexible furlough scheme; however, the transferee is only eligible to claim the grant where the employees have been furloughed for three weeks prior to 10 June by the transferor;
- to claim the flexible furlough grant for an employee, the employee must have been instructed not to carry out any work for the employer or its group for the periods they remain on furlough leave, rather than working their usual hours. This instruction must be made in writing or confirmed in writing by the employer (email is allowed);
- the above agreement to cease some or all work may be made by means of a collective agreement between the employer and a trade union;
- an employer cannot move a sick employee between statutory sick pay (SSP) and furlough leave. Instead it must wait until the period of SSP has ended, though the employer and employee can mutually agree to end the period of sick leave. SSP is specifically not available to be paid to anyone on furlough leave;
- if an employee earning an average of £520 per month returns from furlough and is subsequently retained until 31 January 2021, the employer will be entitled to receive a bonus of £1,000 for each such employee, to be paid in February 2021.
For more detail on the Government guidance regarding the CJRS and what employers and employees need to be aware of over the final months, read our guide here.
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