COVID-19: Furlough extension – ten key points for employee’s and employers

HMRC has updated its CJRS guidance to reflect the extension of the furlough (CJRS) scheme to 31 March 2021.

Here are ten key points for employers:

  1. Level of support: From 1 November 2020, employers can claim 80% of an employee’s usual salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. Employers can top up salary further if desired, and will need to pay employer National Insurance Contributions (NICs) and pension contributions on all amounts paid to the employee (whether those payments to the employee are reimbursable under CJRS or not). The level of government support will be reviewed in January to decide whether employers will be required to make a greater contribution thereafter.
  2. Publicity: HMRC intends to publish details of employers who use the scheme for claim periods from 1 December 2020 onwards. Employees will also be able to find out if their employer has claimed for them under the scheme
  3. Open to new entrants: Neither the employer nor the employee need to have used the scheme before in order to claim for periods from 1 November 2020.
  4. Eligible employees – payroll dates: Employers can claim for employees who were on payroll on 30 October 2020, as long as they have made a PAYE RTI submission to HMRC between 20 March 2020 and 30 October 2020. Employers can also claim for employees who were made redundant or stopped working on or after 23 September 2020 if they are then rehired.
  5. No maximum number of employees: Currently, employers can only claim for the number of employees they had claimed for prior to June 2020. Under the revised guidance, this maximum is removed.
  6. Employees serving notice periods: The guidance previously stated that employers could claim for employees serving contractual or statutory notice periods. The updated version states that the government “will change the approach for claim periods starting on or after 1 December 2020, with further guidance published in late November.” Employers will therefore need to exercise caution when furloughing employees who are (or soon will be) serving their notice period.
  7. Full or flexi-furlough: Employers can continue to furlough employees for any amount of time and any work pattern, while still being able to claim the grant for the hours not worked.
  8. Retrospective furlough: Employers can agree retrospectively to furlough someone with effect from 1 November 2020, as long as the agreement to retrospectively claim furlough is made on or before 13 November 2020.
  9. TUPE transfers: The revised guidance suggests that employers may not be able to claim for employees who transferred to them under TUPE after 1 September 2020. This would be a change in approach and it is not clear at this stage if this is an error or deliberate policy decision. Clarification is being sought from HMRC.
  10. Monthly deadlines for claims: Claims for periods starting on or after 1 November 2020 must be submitted within 14 calendar days after the month they relate to, unless this falls on a weekend in which case the deadline is the next weekday. Any claims for periods up to 31 October 2020 must be submitted on or before 30 November 2020.

Information via Lexology – Slaughter and May – Padraig Cronin and Phil Linnard