11th November, 2020
Extended Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme Guidance now published
The Government have just updated their guidance for the extended job retention scheme.
Last night the Government updated their guidance for the now extended Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). The aim of this extension, in light of the second national lockdown and increase in infection rates, is to provide employers with a clarified set of rules up to the scheme’s new end date of 31 March 2021.
The guidance provides clarification on certain areas of the CJRS for the extended scheme with the majority of information and guidance remaining the same as before. However, key points from the updated guidance are as follows:
- The Government has made it clear that employees who have been made redundant can be re-employed and placed on the new furlough scheme as long as they were made redundant after 23 September 2020.
- From 1 November, employers can claim 80% of an employee’s usual salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500. To be eligible for this scheme the employee MUST have been on the employer’s payroll by 30 October 2020. That means the employee must have been on the PAYE scheme by this date with a real time RTI received by HMRC between 20 March and 30 October, unless the employee was re-employed after 23 September 2020.
- Employees can be retrospectively furloughed from 1 November 2020, however, any agreement with an employee to retrospectively furlough them must be agreed with the employee, in writing, on or before this coming Friday, i.e. by no later than Friday 13 November.
- Flexible furlough, in the same manner as the earlier CJRS, is allowed and as before the employer must pay 100% for the hours worked by the employee; this includes PAYE and NI contributions. Any employer flexibly furloughing someone must keep records of time worked and days fully furloughed (not working) for five years and we recommend that agreement to be flexibly furloughed is obtained in writing for these records.
- Any employee can be furloughed if they meet the criteria set out in the guidance, including those serving notice periods (contractual or statutory) but the government states that claims for notice periods will be reviewed for claim periods starting on or after 1 December 2020. Further guidance on this will be published in late November. This may impact many employers hoping to use furlough for employees serving notice, whether for redundancy or otherwise, with a termination date on or after 1 December. This is new and differs to the previous furlough leave rules and may encourage employers to serve notice sooner rather than later.
- Unlike the previous scheme which had a cut-off date. There is no requirement for an employee to have been previously furloughed at any time under the previous scheme, provided they meet all other eligibility criteria.
- Any agreement to furlough an employee must be confirmed in writing to the employee and a written record kept for five years. We strongly recommend a Furlough Agreement is put in place to record the terms.
- The normal rules for wishing to take any form of parental leave and pay apply, however, employees who have been on maternity leave now need to provide the statutory eight weeks notice’ to end their maternity leave early to be eligible for furlough leave and pay. Claims under the scheme cannot be made until after the 8 weeks notice.
- Only those who Clinically Extremely Vulnerable can be furloughed, which appears to be a smaller group than those shielding.
- Reservists can be placed on furlough if they were called up before 10 June and returned to work after that date. To be further eligible the reservist must have been on the PAYE scheme before 19 March 2020.
- This remains the same as with the previous scheme, employees continue to accrue holiday and may take this whilst furloughed. Any holiday leave taken by the employee must be paid at 100% of usual salary by the employer but employers can claim up to 80% (subject to the cap of £2,500) through the furlough scheme.
- Unlike the now deferred Job Support Scheme, employees can be made redundant and put at risk of redundancy whilst furloughed, but as mentioned earlier, the government is reviewing its position with regards to notice periods being claimed through the scheme at the end of November.
Further details of the eligibility criteria are available on the government website on the link set out at the top of this article. We will continue to provide and update our guidance as and when such information is released. However, if you require further information about the CJRS or any other Employment Law related matter please contact Debbie Coyne.
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