Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (‘The Furlough Scheme’)
Updated: 12 Nov 2020
On Thursday 05 November, England will enter a second ‘lockdown’ that will run for a period of 4 weeks until Wednesday 02 December. At the time of writing, the government has confirmed the implementation of the Job Support Scheme Open and Job Support Scheme Closed support packages will be delayed.
Instead, the existing Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (‘furlough scheme’) will now continue into March 2021.
The government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, commonly referred to as ‘furlough’, has been extended into March 2021 and will operate as the existing scheme has (according to the version applicable for the month of August 2020). Government will conduct a review of the scheme in January 2021.
How the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (or ‘Furlough Scheme’) works
The extended furlough scheme provides employers with the same upfront support to cover wages and costs and provides the same flexibilities as before:
- Government support for up to 80% of employee wages up to a limit of £2,500 per person
- Employees may be ‘full time furloughed’ or furloughed flexibly in line with the employers’ requirements to staff their organisation in line with demand
- Employers must continue to pay the employer National Insurance Contributions and workplace pension contributions in respect of any hours each employee works
- Our current understanding is that the government’s original plans for the Coronavirus Job Retention Bonus Scheme, Job Support Scheme Open and Job Support Scheme Closed programmes have now been withdrawn owing to the extension of this scheme, pending future review
Understanding employer eligibility
Employers can apply under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme even if they have previously not used the scheme. Claims for the period ending 31 Oct must be made by 30 Nov and claims from 1 Nov should then be made in the normal way.
- Have a UK bank account and a UK PAYE scheme
- Not use the scheme if they are a publicly funded organisation. Per the previous scheme, government expects such organisations not to use the scheme although those that are partly public funded may be eligible where private revenues have been disrupted
- Report each employee’s hours worked and the usual hours each would expect to have worked in any given claim period
- Seek the agreement of each employee who is currently not furloughed before furloughing them under this scheme, which should be recorded in writing and retained for the specified time periods
Understanding employee eligibility
- Are eligible provided they have been on their employer’s PAYE payroll between 20 Mar 2020 and 30 Oct 2020
- Can be on any type of contract
- Will have any grant based on the hours they are not working calculated in reference to their usual working hours where they have previously not been furloughed and any grant for those who have been previously furloughed based on their salary as of March 2020
- Must be furloughed for a minimum period of 7 days when they are subsidised under this scheme
Will be paid by their employer subject to their contact of employment and their employer will be responsible for paying tax and National Insurance Contributions on those amounts
What does the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme grant cover?
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme operates as follows:
- For hours not worked by an employee, the government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500. This grant must be paid to employees in full
- There is no limit on the number of employees covered by the furlough scheme extension in place from 01 Nov
- The scheme covers businesses that are open and wish to furlough employees and businesses who must remain closed
- Government grants under this scheme do not cover Class 1 Employer NICs or pension contributions – these remain payable by the employer for the hours worked by each employee
- Employers may choose to top up employee wages above the scheme grant limits at their own expense
- There is no gap in eligibility for support between the previous end date to the furlough scheme and the extension to it
- Employers can rehire employees that have been made redundant since 23 Sep in order that they can continue to benefit from the furlough grant
- Employees who have been asked to shield due to extreme vulnerability should either work from home or, if this is not possible, they should not go to work. They may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay and will receive communication from the government with further guidance
Full information is available on the government’s official website page for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
This article is based on our understanding and interpretation (as of 12 November 2020) of the official government information for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
We want to keep you in the picture: if you have any questions about the furlough scheme and how it applies to your business, please contact us and a colleague will be happy to help you.