January Update

The extended Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) which began on 1 November 2020 will continue until 30 April 2021. The Government will fund 80% of employee’s pay (subject to a maximum of £2,500 per employee per month) when they are placed on furlough or flexibly furloughed for the entire period of the scheme. Employers are at liberty to top up furlough pay if they wish. But they must meet the cost of employer’s contributions for national insurance and pension.

Employers must pay employees for any periods that they work. The payment rate when an employee is working must be at least the rate of the National Living Wage (NLW) or National Minimum Wage (NMW) according to the employee’s age.

Which businesses can claim for the grant?

As a business (including charities, recruitment agencies and public authorities), to qualify for the CJRS grant you must have:

  1. Created and started a PAYE scheme on or before 30 October 2020
  2. Enrolled for PAYE online
  3. Hold a UK, Isle of Man or Channel Islands bank account

Which employees can be furloughed?

The new scheme is separate from the previous schemes. To qualify an employee/apprentice does not have to have been previously furloughed. But they must be employed and, on the payroll at 30 October 2020 and have earnings reported to HMRC on an RTI submission between 20 March 2020 and 30 October 2020.

General guidance on who qualifies can be found here.

There are three exceptions to the above rule.

  • New starters whose pay period ended after 30 October 2020 can still qualify providing HMRC has received a report of their earnings by 30 October 2020.
  • Employees that have left your employment or were made redundant on or after 23 September 2020 and were re-employed and placed on furlough can still qualify. Providing their earnings have been reported on RTI between 20 March 2020 and 30 October 2020.
  • If an employee is serving a period on notice (either statutory or contractual) on or after 1 December 2020 you cannot claim for any furlough days on or after that date.

Further guidance on leavers can be found here.

How do I notify an employee that they’re being placed on furlough?

Employers must notify employees that they are being placed on furlough in writing. This can include a collective agreement with the trade union. They must retain written records of agreements for five years.

What reference periods should be used for furloughed employees?

For all employees on an RTI submission on or before 19 March 2020, employers can use the CJRS calculations (as applied in August 2020) for reference pay and usual hours even if a claim was not previously made under CJRS. For employees not previously eligible for CJRS, employers should use the following calculations:

  • on a fixed salary – 80% of the wages payable in the last pay period ending on or before 30 October 2020
  • whose pay varies – 80% of the average payable between (these dates are inclusive) the start date of their employment or 6 April 2020 (whichever is later) and the day before their CJRS extension furlough periods begins

Guidance on reference periods for CJRS and the extended scheme can be found here.

What is the advice for employees with caring responsibilities?

Advice for employers regarding employees with caring responsibilities was added to the guidance on 5 January 2021 due to the national lockdown.

Employees with caring responsibilities for children or a vulnerable person in their household can be furloughed if they are unable to work from home or are working reduced hours.

Further details can be found here.

When can Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) be used?

Employers may be able to pay SSP if employees are self-isolating due to coronavirus, live or work in a area where restrictions are in place or have been advised to shield due to high risk of severe illness from coronavirus.   The waiting days for SSP do not need to be served under these circumstances. SSP can be paid from the first qualifying day (which may or not be the first day of absence).

If you are a small or medium size employer, you can reclaim up to two weeks of SSP per employee.

Please note that an employee cannot be on furlough and receiving SSP at the same time. For further details go visit here.

What action should I take if an employee needs to self isolate?

A new guide has been published on Gov.uk for employees and employers which covers self isolation due to Covid-19 and dealing with the clinically extremely vulnerable. 

The guide deals with what action should be taken by an employer or employee where it is necessary for an individual to self isolate.  The guide also deals with SSP, paid or unpaid leave, dismissals, and redundancy where the employee is clinically extremely vulnerable.

The guide can be viewed or downloaded here.

Deadline for claims

The guidance for the extended CJRS states that employers must claim for each calendar month separately and that the claim deadline is normally 14th of the following month.  Further clarification has been added stating that where the claim deadline falls on a weekend use the next working day.

The deadlines for claims can be find below:

Claim for furlough days inClaim must be submitted by
December 202014 January 2021
January 202115 February 2021
February 202115 March 2021
March 202114 April 2021

If an employer needs to adjust the original claim to claim more money, they have a further 14 days in which to do this.  Again, if the 14th day falls on a weekend the deadline falls on the next working day.

Here is a chart to remind you of these deadlines:

To amend a claim for:You must amend the claim by 11:59pm on:
December 202028 January 2021
January 20211 March 2021
February 202129 March 2021
March 202128 April 2021

Please note that if you wish to delete a claim in the online service, you must do so within 72 hours.

During these uncertain times we continue to provide all of our customers with the best possible service and we will update with any further guidance as and when it is published.

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