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Important updates about the extended Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Important Updates about the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme published on the 4th February 2021

Several of the guidance pages that relate to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) were updated on 4 February 2021. Payroll professionals who are submitting claims under the scheme should be aware of the changes.

The following pages have been updated to reflect the fact that there is no right of appeal for those that are not eligible for the CJRS:

Check if your employer can use the CJRS

Check if you can claim for your employees’ wages through the CJRS

Calculate how much you can claim using the CJRS

Claim for wages through the CJRS

The page that outlines the ‘Steps to take before calculating your claim using the CJRS’ has been updated to confirm further details of what you must not include when calculating wages to claim for, as follows:

  • You cannot include non-monetary benefits, such as Benefits in Kind (e.g. a company car), and this includes benefits received in exchange for forfeiting an amount of pay under a salary sacrifice scheme
  • You cannot include employer pension contributions, including pension contributions received in exchange for forfeiting an amount of pay under a salary sacrifice scheme. There is a note to confirm that pension contributions that an employee makes from their wages can still be included, and the example of those made through a Net Pay Arrangement pension scheme is provided

The guidance on how to ‘Calculate how much you can claim using the CJRS’ has been updated to include a new section entitled ‘What you can claim’.

It explains that for the period from 1 November 2020 to 30 April 2021, the Government grant will be available for 80% of wages. Employees must be paid at least 80% of their usual wages for the hours that they are furloughed, and are not working, as this is the amount that employers can claim through the scheme.

There is clarification that the calculation of the employee’s usual wages is based on the amount they were paid in a specific period, so in scenarios where their pay or working arrangements have recently changed, then the amount that the employer can claim, and the amount they must pay employees for the hours not worked, could potentially be based on the previous arrangements.

It is not mandatory for employers to contribute or top-up the employee’s pay for hours not worked, bur employers are still required to pay employer National Insurance (NI) contributions and employer pension contributions for hours employees are recorded as being on furlough, and employers cannot reclaim these amounts.

Employers can opt to top-up employee wages above the minimum 80% if they wish. There is a reminder that employees must not work or provide any services for the business during hours which they are classed as being on furlough, even if their wage is topped-up.

Where employees are flexibly furloughed, meaning that they are working reduced hours and not ceasing work completely, employers must pay them at their full current contracted rates for any hours that they work. The grant cannot be claimed in relation to hours that employees work.

The ‘Examples of how to calculate your employees’ wages’ page has been added to, and a new example provided for the calculation of wages for different types of pension scheme.

 

Important updates about the extended Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme published on Friday 13th November

Updates to Deadlines

HMRC have confirmed that they may accept a claim made after the relevant deadline if the claimant had a reasonable excuse for failing to make a claim by the deadline date, and then claimed without delay after the excuse no longer applied. HMRC has clarified that it will not consider reasonable excuses in advance of a claim deadline.

It is also confirmed that the exact time of the deadline is at 11:59pm 14 calendar days after the month being claimed for, but where this falls on a weekend, then claims should be submitted on the following working day. Note that for those employers claiming for October the original deadline of the 30th November is in place.

Publication of the names of employers using the scheme

HMRC will publish the names of employers, along with an indication of the value of the claims that they have made. Additionally, for companies and Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs), they will have their company registration number published. This will be actioned from December 2020 onwards. More detail on how HMRC will provide an indication in relation to the value of the claim will be provided from late November.

Where there is a serious risk of violence or intimidation to certain individuals, HMRC will refrain from publishing the details of employers making claims under the scheme. Those individuals include:

  • Employers that are individuals – a relevant individual can be the employer themselves, or any employee of the employer
  • Employers that are companies – a relevant individual can be a director, officer or employee of that company
  • Employers that are partnerships – a relevant individual can be a partner, officer or employee of that partnership
  • Employers that are limited liability partnerships – a relevant individual can be a member or employee of that limited liability partnership
  • Trustees of a trust – a relevant individual can be a settlor, trustee or beneficiary of the trust

Employers concerned that the publication of their name could lead to a serious risk of violence or intimidation will need to contact HMRC and provide evidence as to why they suspect this. Evidence can include:

  • A police incident number
  • Documentary evidence of a threat or attack, such as photos or recordings
  • Evidence of possible disruption or targeting

More details on how to liaise with HMRC in relation to not publishing employer details will be available soon.

Notice periods

It has also been confirmed that for claim periods beginning on or after 1 December 2020, claims cannot be made for any dates on or after 1 December 2020 during which a furloughed employee is serving either a contractual or statutory notice period for their employer – including people serving notice of retirement or resignation. If an employee starts a contractual or statutory notice period on a day that was included in a previously submitted claim, then an adjustment will need to be made.

Phase 3 are on hand to offer support during this period. Visit our Covid 19 Hub for free Furlough Calculators, resources and claim templates.

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