The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (the Scheme) has now been extended to 30 September 2021.
A number of guidance documents have been published by HMRC and BEIS to explain the Scheme and how to make a claim. They include:
- Check if you can claim for your employees' wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (last updated 1 April 2021)
- Check which employees you can put on furlough to use the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (last updated 8 April 2021)
- Claim for wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (last updated 1 April 2021)
- Examples of how to calculate your employees' wages (last updated 8 April 2021)
- Claim for your employees' wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – a step by step guide for employers (Version 12)
- HM Treasury direction on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (dated 15 April 2020)
- Further HM Treasury direction on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (dated 20 May 2020)
- Further HM Treasury direction on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (dated 25 June 2020)
- Check if your employer can use the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (last updated 25 March 2021)
- Holiday entitlement and pay during coronavirus (COVID-19) (published 13 May 2020)
- Steps to take before calculating your claim using the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (last updated 8 April 2021)
- Full example of how to calculate the amount you should claim for an employee who is flexibly furloughed (last updated 8 April 2021)
- Calculate how much you can claim using the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (last updated 8 April 2021)
- Pay Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme grants back (last updated 3 March 2021)
- Penalties for not telling HMRC about Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme grant overpayments (last updated 8 April 2021)
- Find examples to help you calculate your employees' wages (last updated 8 April 2021)
- Reporting employees' wages to HMRC when you've claimed through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (last updated 1 April 2021)
- Other types of employees you can claim for (last updated 1 December 2020)
- Further HM Treasury direction on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (dated 1 October 2020)
- Further HM Treasury direction on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (last updated 26 January 2021)
- Ask HMRC not to publish your Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme claim details (last updated 30 March 2021)
- Changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme from July 2021 (published 3 March 2021).
We are receiving a number of enquiries from clients and have put this document together to answer some of the most frequently asked questions.
When will the Scheme end?
It has been extended until 30 September 2021.
What can employers claim?
For periods ending on or before 30 June 2021, employers can claim 80% of an employee's usual salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. From 1 July 2021 employers can claim 70% of an employee's usual salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,187.50 per month, and will pay the other 10% themselves. From 1 August, employers can claim 60% of an employee's usual salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £1,875 per month, and will pay the other 20% themselves.
What will employers have to pay?
Employers will have to pay the cost of employer National Insurance Contributions and pension contributions, together with holiday pay for any holiday that the employee takes (i.e the difference between 80% and 100% of pay). From 1 July employers will also have to pay the contributions set out above.
Can employers top up wages to 100% if they want to?
Employers can continue to top up wages if they wish.
Can employers part furlough employees?
Employers can furlough employees for any amount of time and any work pattern and claim the grant for the hours not worked. This means they can fully or flexibly furlough employees.
Who can employers claim for?
For periods ending on or before 30 April 2021, employers can claim for employees who were employed on 30 October 2020 as long as they made a PAYE RTI submission to HMRC between 20 March and 30 October 2020 notifying a payment of earnings for that employee.
For periods starting on or after 1 May 2021, employers can claim for employees who were employed on 2 March 2021 as long as they made a PAYE RTI submission to HMRC between 20 March 2020 and 2 March 2021.
Note that employers can only place employees on furlough if COVID-19 is affecting their operations. An employer should not furlough an employee just because they are going to be on paid leave or the employer usually does less business over the festive period. This means that employers will have to be very careful if they are furloughing employees during a Christmas/New Year shutdown.
Can employers re-employ employees they have made redundant and furlough them?
If an employer made an employee redundant or they stopped working for the employer on or after 23 September 2020, the employer can re-employ them and put them on furlough. An RTI submission notifying a payment in respect of that employee to HMRC must have been made between 20 March and 30 October 2020 and the employee must have been employed by the employer on 23 September 2020. The employer does not need to have previously claimed for the employee in order to claim for periods from 1 November.
Does the employer have to have previously claimed under the Scheme in order to use it?
There is no requirement to have previously claimed for an employee before 30 October 2020 to claim for periods from 1 November 2020. Similarly, there is no requirement to have previously claimed for an employee before 2 March 2021 to claim for periods starting on or after 1 May 2021.
Do employees have to have been furloughed previously in order to be included in a claim?
No. You can furlough an employee for the first time, provided they were on the payroll at the correct time.
Is there a cap on the number of employees you can claim for?
No, the previous cap does not apply.
When can claims be made?
The last day employers can submit or amend claims for periods ending on or before 31 October is 30 November. Employers can claim from 11 November for claim periods starting on or after 1 November. From 1 November claims must be submitted by midnight on the 14th day after the month being claimed for. If this day falls on a weekend or a bank holiday, the claim has to be submitted on the next working day.
The deadlines for submitting claims relating to days in November 2020 to September 2021 are as below:
Claim for furlough days in
Claim submission deadline
14 December 2020
14 January 2021
15 February 2021
15 March 2021
14 April 2021
14 May 2021
|14 June 2021|
|14 July 2021|
|16 August 2021|
|14 September 2021|
|14 October 2021|
HMRC may accept a claim after the deadline if the employer has a reasonable excuse that prevented them claiming on time, they took reasonable care to try and claim on time and they claimed without delay as soon as they were able to. Reasonable excuses might include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Death of a partner or a close relative
- Unexpected hospital stays
- Serious illnesses, including COVID-19
- Computer or software failure, either on the part of the claimant or HMRC's online services
- Unexpected postal delays
- Delays related to a disability
- Fire, flood or theft; and/or
- HMRC error.
If an employer misses a deadline, they need to contact HMRC after the deadline has passed to ask to submit a late claim.
Can claims be amended?
After 1 November, employers will have 28 days after the month the claim relates to in which to amend their claim.
Do you need to agree furlough with employees?
The rules on agreeing furlough are the same as pre-1 November 2020. Furlough agreements need to be put in place before the start of the relevant claim period but an employer should be able to update an earlier furlough agreement.
What anti-fraud measures is HMRC putting in place?
From January 2021, HMRC will publish on GOV.UK the names of employers that have made claims for December 2020 onwards, together with the company or LLP registered number, unless there is a serious risk of violence or intimidation to individuals. An employer or their agent can request HMRC not to publish their claim details (via the Government Gateway) if such a risk exists. An employer only has to apply once and this will cover all claim periods starting on or after 1 December 2020. The guidance lists the evidence that may have to be provided. Details of claims will then be published monthly. The list of employers that have claimed through the Scheme since December is here. From 25 February 2021, HMRC will also publish an indication of the amount claimed in bands, starting at £1 to £10,000 and rising to £100,000,001 and above.
Employees will also be able to find out if their employer has claimed a furlough grant for them, as details of any claims starting on or after 1 December 2020 will be made available via their Personal Tax Account on GOV.UK from 25 February 2021. The information will be updated monthly.
What about fixed term contracts?
For claim periods from 1 November, if the fixed term contract has not already expired it can be extended or renewed. If the fixed term contract expired on or after 23 September, the employee can be re-employed and furloughed as long as they were employed on 23 September and an RTI submission was made notifying a payment of earnings to them between 20 March and 30 October 2020.
What happens if there's a TUPE transfer?
An employer may be able to claim in respect of employees who transfer to it. This will depend on the period being claimed for, the date of the transfer and whether employees were on the payroll and included in a PAYE RTI submission at the relevant time. The rules relating to TUPE are complicated and employers should take advice on their situation. The guidance states that if an employer is part of a change in ownership where TUPE applies, it should pass on the information needed for future claims.
Can you make furloughed employees redundant?
You can claim for a furloughed employee who is serving notice up to the end of November 2020. However, from 1 December employers cannot claim for any day that an employee is serving contractual or statutory notice, including for retirement and resignation.
Can employers furlough clinically extremely vulnerable people or carers?
An employer can furlough someone after 1 November 2020 if they are unable to work because they are clinically extremely vulnerable, at the highest risk of severe illness from COVID-19, or on long term sick leave. They do not need to have been furloughed before in order for the employer to claim. The guidance states explicitly that an employer does not need to be facing a reduction in demand or be closed in order to claim for clinically extremely vulnerable employees or those at the highest risk of severe illness from COVID-19. On 5 January, the guidance was amended to make it clear that those who cannot work or are working reduced hours as a result of caring responsibilities arising from COVID-19 (e.g. those caring for children at home due to school closures or looking after a vulnerable individual in their household) can be furloughed.
Can an employer furlough a woman on maternity leave?
An employee can end her maternity leave early by giving her employer at least eight weeks' notice of her return to work. A shorter period of notice can be agreed with the employer. She can be furloughed when the notice ends and she returns to work.
Can you appeal against a decision by HMRC to reject a claim?
HMRC updated its guidance on 4 February 2021 to make it clear that there is no right of appeal if an employer is ineligible for the Scheme.
Employers have many questions about how the extension to the Scheme will work in practice. We will continue to update this document when additional or updated guidance is published.
In the meantime, if you have any queries please get in touch with your usual Womble Bond Dickinson contact.