Employers have been furloughing employees since the announcement was first made in March and have been doing so in good faith. Guidance on how to actually do it appeared after the event in various forms and guises. The above guidance (‘Work out 80% of your employees' wages to claim through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme’) was first published on 17 April 2020. It has seen a number of amendments, the most recent published on 14 May 2020.
As per the updates part of the Gov.UK page, let’s run through the various versions:
17 April 2020
Work Out 80% Guidance first published.
20 April 2020
Updated, advising that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) claims portal was open.
23 April 2020
Updated again and the part about reporting grant payments via RTI was moved to separate guidance.
27 April 2020
Updated again with the comment ‘Updated information about the calculator for employees who are paid variable amounts.’
30 April 2020
Updated again after the scheme was extended until the end of June (this is outdated information now that it has been extended until October 2020, remaining in its current form until the end of July 2020). The update also contained information about the limitations of HMRC’s calculator, people who have an annual pay period and employees returning from sick or family-related leave.
14 May 2020
The latest update says:
Added new information on non-discretionary payments clarification and non-discretionary overtime payments. New wording setting out what periods a claim should cover and how far in advance claims can be made. Added link to BEIS holiday pay guidance. Examples from this page separated out into HTML document with links. Moved the ‘After you’ve claimed’ section from this page to the service start page.
The guidance seems to contain two links:
Both of these point to other places in the same guidance document. Both of these say that payments, including overtime, are non-discretionary when there is a contractual obligation to pay them.
The main changes seems to be the inclusion of the below:
For any claim that you make, the claim end date must be no more than 14 days in the future from the date the claim is made. Any claim period must contain all the furloughed days that the claim amount relates to.
Holiday Pay Guidance
There is a link to the ‘Holiday entitlement and pay’ guidance published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
Note that this does not apply in Northern Ireland and employers should see the guidance on NIbusinessinfo.co.uk (which is actually really comprehensive guidance on far more than holiday).
There is a brand new guidance document entitled ‘Examples of how to work out 80% of your employees’ wages, National Insurance contributions and pension contributions’. As far as I can see, this has just consolidated the examples from the ‘Work out 80%’ guidance into a separate document.
‘After You’ve Claimed’
At first sight, this just seemed to be a case of moving this part from one document to another (it now appears in ‘Claim for wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme’).
However, it is quite specific in what the employer must do after they’ve made a claim, for example:
- Keep your calculations (for audit purposes after the CJRS closes) and
- Tell employees that you have made a claim (this wasn’t there before)
Great to have good guidance and great to have it in logical places. I maintain that if you have worked from guidance that differs from the guidance that exists now, keep that guidance so you can justify to HMRC what you have done and why.