Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) – Extended to 31 Mar 2021
The government is extending the CJRS to support individuals and businesses who are impacted by disruption caused by coronavirus (COVID-19) this winter. This is an extension of the CJRS.
The CJRS (also known as the furlough scheme) will remain open until 31 March 2021. For claim periods running to January 2021, employees will receive 80% of their usual salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. The £2,500 cap is proportional to the hours not worked.
The government will review the policy in January to decide whether economic circumstances are improving enough to ask employers to contribute more.
Claims can be made by employers across the UK that meet the eligibility criteria.
- Employers who can claim under the CJRS extension
Employers do not need to have used the CJRS previously.
Employers across the UK can claim, whether their businesses are open or closed.
HMRC will publish details of employers who make claims under the extended CJRS scheme, starting from December. Full details will be included in full guidance which will be published on 10 November 2020.
- Employees furloughed under the CJRS extension
2.1 Core employee eligibility criteria
Employers can claim for employees who were employed and on their PAYE payroll on 30 October 2020. The employer must have made a PAYE Real Time Information (RTI) submission to HMRC between the 20 March 2020 and 30 October 2020, notifying a payment of earnings for that employee.
Employers will have flexibility to use the scheme for employees for any amount of time or shift pattern, furloughing employees on either a full-time or part-time basis, and will be able to vary the hours worked in agreement with the employee.
As under the current CJRS rules, employees can be on any type of employment contract.
2.2 Employees not claimed for previously under CJRS
Employees do not need to have been furloughed under the CJRS previously.
For employees that meet the eligibility criteria, and were previously furloughed, employers must use the same calculations for calculating reference pay and usual hours as CJRS.
For an employee who meets the criteria of the extended scheme but was not previously eligible for CJRS, the alternative calculations of reference pay and usual hours must be used. For all other employees, employers must use the CJRS calculations for calculating reference pay and usual hours.
Employer contributions during the CJRS extension until January will be the same as in August 2020. This means that for hours not worked by their employee, employers will only be asked to cover National Insurance and employer pension contributions. The government will review the policy in January to decide whether economic circumstances are improving enough to ask employers to contribute more.
Employers will have to pay the employee’s wages for the hours they work as normal, as well as employer National Insurance and employer pension contributions.
2.3 Employees whose health has been affected by coronavirus or other conditions
Employees can be furloughed where they are unable to work because they:
- are shielding in line with public health guidance (or need to stay at home with someone who is shielding)
- have caring responsibilities resulting from coronavirus, including employees that need to look after children
The CJRS is not intended for short-term sick absences. 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.
Furloughed employees who become ill, due to coronavirus or any other cause, must be paid at least Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). As under the CJRS previously, it is up to employers to decide whether to move these employees onto SSP or to keep them on furlough, at their furloughed rate.
2.4 Employees re-employed by their employer
Employees that were employed and on the payroll on 23 September 2020 who were made redundant or stopped working for their employer afterwards can be re-employed and claimed for. The employer must have made a PAYE Real Time Information (RTI) submission to HMRC from 20 March 2020 to 23 September 2020, notifying a payment of earnings for those employees.
Similarly, an employee who was on a fixed term contract, on payroll on 23 September, and that contract expired after 23 September can be re-employed and claimed for, provided that the other eligibility criteria are met.
2.5 When employees are on furlough
As under the CJRS previously, during hours which employees are recorded as being on furlough, they cannot do any work for their employer that makes money or provides services for their employer or any organisation linked or associated with their employer.
- take part in training
- volunteer for another employer or organisation
- work for another employer (if contractually allowed)
2.6 Maintaining employee rights
Employees will retain their rights at work, including:
- annual leave
- maternity and other parental rights
- rights against unfair dismissal
- redundancy payments
- to be paid at least statutory National Minimum Wage for hours worked
In addition, as with the current CJRS:
- the Working Tax Credits working hours easement will apply for the period of this CJRS extension
- for employees on statutory parental leave, there will be no change from CJRS
- Other conditions of claiming CJRS
3.1 Paying employees’ taxes
Employees will still pay the taxes they normally pay out of their wages.
Employers must deduct and pay to HMRC Income Tax and employee National Insurance contributions on the full amount that they pay the employee, including any scheme grant. The CJRS grant does not cover employers’ National Insurance contributions or pension contributions.
Employers must also pay to HMRC the employer National Insurance contributions on the full amount that they pay the employee, including any scheme grant.
3.2 Employer – employee agreement
Employers do not need to place all of their employees on furlough and they can fully furlough employees if they wish. Employees cannot undertake any work for their employer during the hours that the employer records them as being on furlough.
There is no minimum furlough period. Flexible furlough agreements can last any amount of time. Employees can enter into a flexible furlough agreement more than once.
Although flexible furlough agreements can last any amount of time, unless otherwise specified the period claimed for must be for a minimum claim period of 7 consecutive calendar days.
- fully furlough employees – this means the employee does no work for the employer
- flexibly furlough employees – this means employees can work for any amount of time, and any work pattern and claim the grant for the furloughed hours, with reference to hours the employee would usually have worked in that period
Employers should discuss with their staff and make any changes to the employment contract by agreement. When employers are making decisions in relation to the CJRS process, including deciding who to offer furlough to, employment, equality and discrimination laws will apply in the usual way.
To be eligible for the grant, employers must have confirmed to their employee (or reached collective agreement with a trade union) in writing that they have been furloughed or flexibly furloughed.
- make sure that the agreement is consistent with employment, equality and discrimination laws
- keep a written record of the agreement for 5 years
- keep records of how many hours their employees work and the number of hours they are furloughed (for example, not working), for 6 years
The employee does not have to provide a written response and employers do not need to place all their employees on furlough.
The terms of any agreement must:
- reflect the hours the employee has actually worked or not worked over the period of the agreement
- allow the employer to satisfy the terms of CJRS so they can make a claim in relation to hours not worked
- How employers can claim under the CJRS extension
The extended CJRS will operate as the previous scheme did, in several respects:
- employers must report and claim for a minimum period of 7 consecutive calendar days
- employers will need to report actual hours worked and the usual hours an employee would be expected to work in a claim period
- for hours worked, employees will be paid by their employer subject to their employment contract and employers will be responsible for paying the tax and NICs due on those amounts
The claim period must start and end within the same calendar month. If the pay period includes days in more than one month. Each of those claims will need to be calculated separately. Claim periods cannot overlap, and employees claimed for will need to be included in each separate claim made.
An employer can make a claim in anticipation of an imminent payroll run, at the point they run their payroll or after they have run their payroll. There will be a short period when the legal terms of the scheme and system are updated. Businesses will need to claim in arrears for this period. There will be no gap in eligibility of support between the previously announced end-date of CJRS on 31 October 2020 and this extension starting 1 November 2020.
Employers will be able to claim from 8am on Wednesday 11 November 2020. Claims can be made:
- in respect of an employee for a minimum 7 day claim window
- in advance
- in arrears for the period from 1 November 2020 to 11 November 2020, from the week commencing 9 November 2020
Claims relating to November 2020 must be made by 14 December 2020. Claims relating to each subsequent month should be submitted by day 14 of the following month, to ensure prompt claims following the end of the month which is the subject of the claim. The closing date for claims up to and including 31 October remains 30 November 2020.
Grants payments are anticipated 6 working days after the first claims.
Agents who are authorised to do PAYE online for employers will be able to claim on their behalf.
Full guidance will include further detail on how to claim and will be published on 10 November 2020.
- Interaction with other Coronavirus Job Schemes
The launch of the Job Support Scheme has been postponed because of national developments related to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Job Retention Bonus (JRB) will not be paid in February 2021 and a retention incentive will be deployed at the appropriate time. The purpose of the JRB was to encourage employers to keep people in work until the end of January. However, as the CJRS is now being extended to 31 March 2021, the policy intent of the JRB no longer applies.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) – Extended
In his announcement on 31 October of a new national lockdown for England from 5 November until 2 December, the Prime Minister confirmed that the (CJRS) has been extended for a further month.
The new national restrictions will apply from 5 November to 2 December 2020, but the financial support for employers applies from 1 November as the furlough scheme operates on full calendar months.
What support is given?
The furlough scheme has been reinstated with the similar conditions as applied in August 2020.
The CJRS grant will pay for 80% of the employee’s current wages for time not worked, up to £2,500 per month. The employer must pay for all of the employer’s NIC and employer’s minimum workplace pension contributions on those wages.
The employer can top-up the employee’s furlough pay at their own expense, if they wish to.
Which employees qualify?
Employees who were on the employer’s payroll at 30 October 2020 will qualify to be included in CJRS claim for November; they do not have to have been included in an earlier CJRS claim. The employee must have been paid by the employer, and that pay must have been reported on a RTI return before midnight on 30 October.
Employees on any type of contract can qualify, including zero hours, although more detail on whether contractors or directors are included is expected in the next few days.
Flexible furlough will be permitted alongside full-time furlough, so staff may be brought back part-time to say, set up the premises for the lifting of national restrictions, or to prepare for Brexit.
The same rules for flexible furlough will continue to apply as they have done since 1 July, so the employee may be furloughed for a few days or hours per week. There appears to be no minimum time set for furloughed hours or working hours.
However, each furlough claim must be for a period of at least seven consecutive calendar days.
Which employers qualify?
All employers with a UK bank account can claim support under the extended CJRS, there is no financial test to pass for larger employers as it applies for the (now postponed) Job Support Scheme (JSS).
Charities and not-for-profit organisations can also claim in respect of their employees. However, public sector bodies and publicly funded organisations are not expected to use the scheme.
How to claim?
The claim process will be very similar to that which has applied so far under CJRS, the employer will have to report the hours the employee has not worked in a claim period, and the usual hours.
It is not yet clear whether the employee’s pay must be reported on an RTI return before the CJRS grant is submitted for November pay periods. Further details and legislation are expected to be published shortly.
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