Here are the FAQs on the extension of coronavirus job retention scheme (CJRS).

Please click on the links below to go to the sections most relevant to you.

  1. General
  2. Financial
  3. Furlough
  4. Those no longer working
  5. Redundancy

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General

1.1 What is the purpose of the CJRS?

The government is extending the CJRS to support individuals and businesses who are impacted by disruption caused by Coronavirus (COVID-19).

1.2 What does furlough mean?

Employees are effectively laid off for a period of time. They are retained on the payroll system, so do not require a P45.

1.3 What can employees do on furlough?

For hours that are considered furlough an employee can:

  • Take part in training;
  • Volunteer for another employer or organisation;
  • Work for another employer (if contractually allowed).

1.4 How long does the scheme last for?

The scheme has been extended until 30 September 2021.

Financial FAQS

2.1 What support can we claim for our employees through the scheme?

You will continue to be able to claim the lower of 80% or £2,500 per employee placed on furlough until 30 June 2021.

From 1 July 2021, you will be asked to contribute towards the cost of your furloughed employee’s wages. The employee will continue to receive the lower of 80% of their salary or £2,500 but you will be required to contribute the following:

Until 30 June July August September
Employee receives 80% of wages up to £2,500 80% of wages up to £2,500 80% of wages up to £2,500 80% of wages up to £2,500
Government contribution 80% up to £2,500 70% up to £2,187.50 60% up to £1,875 60% up to £1,875
Employer contribution n/a 10% up to £312.50 20% up to £625 20% up to £625
Employer NI and pension contributions Employer Employer Employer Employer

2.2 Is there a minimum period of furlough?

There is no longer a minimum furlough period. You are still able to use flexible furlough and employees can cycle on and off throughout their furlough period. There is however, a minimum claim period of 7 consecutive calendar days.

2.3 Which employers can claim through the scheme?

All employers are able to claim through the extended scheme even if they have not claimed through the CJRS before. Employers can claim whether their business is open or closed as the government acknowledges that businesses will be impacted by the Coronavirus in different ways.

All employers will have to have enrolled for PAYE online and have a UK bank account.

The government expects that publicly funded organisations will not use the scheme, as communicated at the launch of the CJRS, but partially publicly funded organisations may be eligible where their private revenues have been disrupted.

2.4 Who can we claim for?

This depends on the period you intend to claim for.

For periods from 1 November 2020 to 30 April 2021, you can claim for an employee who was employed and on your PAYE payroll as of 30 October 2020. The employee must have been on your PAYE RTI (Real Time Information) submission between 20 March and 30 October 2020.

For periods starting on or after 1 May 2021, you can claim for an employee who was on your PAYE payroll as of 2 March 2021. The employee must have been on your PAYE RTI submission between 20 March 2020 and 2 March 2021.

You can make a claim for any employee on any type of contract and they do not need to have been furloughed previously.

You can also furlough employees where they are unable to work because they:

  • are clinically extremely vulnerable and, as such, shielding in line with public health guidance
  • have caring responsibilities resulting from Coronavirus, including employees that need to look after children or a vulnerable individual in their household.

2.5 How do we make a claim?

HMRC has set up an automated portal which went live on 20 April 2020. You can make a claim online from 8am on Wednesday 11 November 2020 and can be made in advance and in arrears.

2.6 What do you need in order to make a claim?

  • to be registered for PAYE online
  • your UK, Channel Island or Isle of Man bank account number and sort code (only provide bank account details where a BACS payment can be accepted)
  • the billing address on your bank account
  • your employer PAYE reference number
  • the number of employees being furloughed
  • national insurance numbers for the furloughed employees
  • names of the furloughed employees
  • payroll/employee number for the furloughed employees (optional)
  • your self-assessment unique taxpayer reference or corporation tax unique taxpayer reference or company registration number
  • the claim period (start and end date)
  • amount claimed (per the minimum claim period of seven days)
  • your contact name
  • your phone number.

If you are claiming for employees who are flexibly furloughed, you will also need:

  • the number of hours your employee would usually work in the claim period
  • the number of hours your employee has or will work in the claim period
  • a record of the number of furloughed hours your employee has been furloughed in the claim period.

You will need to calculate the amount you are claiming. HMRC will retain the right to retrospectively audit all aspects of your claim.

If you have fewer than 100 furloughed staff, you will be asked to enter details of each employee you are claiming for directly into the system. If you have 100 or more furloughed staff, you will be asked to download a template and upload this populated file with the information rather than input it directly into the system.

2.7 When should be expect to receive the grant money?

Grants should be paid within six working days after the claim.

2.8 Can we still claim the Job Retention Bonus?

The scheme has currently be postponed.

2.9 Is the scheme still flexible?

Yes, employees can cycle on and off the scheme throughout their furlough period. You must pay the employee their normal rate of pay for hours worked.

2.10 How is the furlough payment made?

Directly into your company bank account via BACS transfer.

2.11 Is it a loan?

No, it’s a grant and does not need to be paid back.

2.12 How much of the furlough grant do the employees receive?

Your employee must receive the whole amount claimed through the schemed subject to the normal deductions.

2.13 How do we calculate a furlough day rate?

The daily furlough rate can be calculated by dividing the monthly furlough rate (e.g. £2,500 in November) by the number of calendar days in the month.

2.14 Do we have to top it up to our employees’ full pay?

No, but an employer can do this at their own discretion.

2.15 Is the claim percentage based on their current salary and usual hours?

For full and part-time (salaried) employees, the reference salary is the amount of salary paid to the employee in the latest salary period ending on or before 30 October 2020. This does not include anything that is not salary such as non-guaranteed overtime or commission.

If an employee was not previously eligible for CJRS, then usual hours for an employee who is contracted for a fixed number of hours and whose pay does not vary according to the number of hours they work, will be the contracted hours worked in the last pay period ending on or before 30 October 2020.

2.16 What about employees with variable pay, i.e. zero-hour contracts?

Their average pay will be calculated using the start date of their employment or 6 April 2020 (whichever is later) and the day before their CJRS extension furlough periods begins.

If an employee was not eligible for CJRS then the usual hours will be the average hours worked between (these dates are inclusive):

  • the start date of the 2020 to 2021 tax year, (for example, 6 April 2020)
  • the day before their CJRS extension furlough periods begins

2.17 Is overtime or commission to be paid by us?

You can claim for any payments you are obliged to pay your employees up to the cap. This includes any past overtime or compulsory commission payments. These payments will need to be topped up to 100%. However, you should exclude discretionary bonus (including tips) and commission payments.

2.18 Do we pay them or does the government pay them?

You continue to pay your employees via the payroll and then claim the money back.

2.19 What if the claim period falls over 2 months?

Effectively, you may end up making claims weekly or monthly in accordance with the pay period for each furloughed employee. If an employee’s period of furlough falls over two pay periods, you claim for only the portion falling in the current pay period and the other portion in the next claim.

2.20 Do employees still make pension contributions?

If they pay 5% of their current salary, they pay 5% of their furlough payment. Do not encourage employees to opt out, as this is unlawful.

2.21 Do employees still salary sacrifice?

There has been no guidance but we assume that the salary sacrifice at the amount agreed is deducted before payment. If this is as a percentage, they sacrifice the percentage of their furloughed amount. If it is a set amount, for example childcare vouchers, they continue to sacrifice the full amount.

2.22 If an employee has a company car or receives a car allowance, do we still have to provide this?

Yes, you must continue to provide a company car or pay for a car allowance, unless there is provision to stop this in the employment agreement.

Furlough FAQS

3.1 What rights does the employee maintain whilst on furlough?

  • SSP
  • annual leave
  • maternity and other parental rights
  • rights against unfair dismissal
  • redundancy payments
  • to be paid at least statutory National Minimum Wage for hours worked

In addition, as with the current CJRS:

  • the Working Tax Credits working hours easement will apply for the period of this CJRS extension
  • for employees on statutory parental leave, there will be no change from CJRS

3.2 An employee has more than one job, can we still furlough them?

Yes, even if they are not furloughed from their other employer.

3.3 How do we furlough an employee?

Employees who have ‘short-time working’ or ‘lay-off’ in their contracts can simply be given notice to the fact they are being furloughed. Generally, one week is advisable, however, given the circumstances, you can give much less.

 

If those clauses do not exist, you should consult with your employees to obtain agreement, similar to how you would consult on a redundancy. For 20 or more employees, it is a 30-day consultation period and for 100 or more employees, it is 45 days. Again due to the circumstances, this could be very short.

 

Collective consultation can be brought to an end sooner if all employees agree to the change. For fewer than 20 employees, consultation is a ‘reasonable’ period of time.

To be eligible for the grant, employers must have confirmed to their employee (or reached collective agreement with a trade union) in writing that they have been furloughed or flexibly furloughed.

Employers must:

  • make sure that the agreement is consistent with employment, equality and discrimination laws
  • keep a written record of the agreement for 5 years
  • keep records of how many hours their employees work and the number of hours they are furloughed (for example, not working), for 6 years

The employee does not have to provide written agreement and employers do not need to place all their employees on furlough.

3.4 Can employees who transferred under the TUPE regulations after 28 February 2020 be furloughed?

A new employer is eligible to claim under the scheme for the employees of a previous business transferred after 28 February 2020 if the TUPE rules apply to the change in ownership or change in service provision.

3.5 What is flexible furlough?

Employees may work on some days during the furlough period and this will not affect your ability to claim under the job retention scheme. For example, the employee could work Monday and Tuesday and be placed on furlough Wednesday to Friday.

If employees do work part of the week, for example they are brought back 2 days per week, the employer must pay the employees at their normal rate of pay for the days they are working. They will only be able to claim furlough pay for the days where there is no work.

3.6 Can furloughed employees volunteer or undertake training?

Yes. However, if you require them to take part in company-led training, you must ensure they are paid at least the national minimum wage or living wage, even if this is more than the claim percentage of their wage that is being subsidised. If the employee normally earns the minimum wage, and the claim percentage that is claimed is therefore less than the minimum wage, you will have to pay the difference.

3.7 How do we pick who should be furloughed if we want to keep some employees?

Your options are:

  • Ask for volunteers
  • Use a selection process in exactly the same way as a redundancy selection process would work, or
  • If a role is standalone (as in only one person does it and you don’t need it), select on that basis.

3.8 Are directors eligible?

Yes. If the director is on the payroll, they can be furloughed. They are not allowed to carry out any income-generating work or provide services to the company whilst furloughed. They can, however, carry out statutory obligations of a director, such as submitting company accounts.

3.9 Can furloughed employees take holiday?

Holidays accrue at the normal rate during a period of furlough and can be taken during periods of furlough. However, you will have to top up any additional amount above the grant for time taken as holiday to the employee’s usual rate of pay.

3.10 What happens with bank holidays?

The guidance has confirmed that if an employee usually works bank holidays, you can agree that this is included in the grant payment. If the employee usually takes the bank holiday as leave, you will either have to top up their usual holiday pay, or give the employee a day of holiday in lieu.

It has been confirmed that you will be required to top this up to the employees’ normal pay if you claim for a bank holiday.

3.11 Can employees carry over holiday they have been unable to take when furloughed?

Yes, the government has introduced a temporary new law that allows employees who cannot take holiday due to the Coronavirus to carry over up to four weeks’ paid holiday over a two-year period.

3.12 Can we furlough an employee mid-month?

Yes, you can furlough an employee mid-month.

3.13 Can we furlough an employee we sponsor for a sponsored Tier 2 visa?

Be aware that there are sponsorship rules that apply that could restrict you in reducing their salary. You should seek immigration law advice in this case.

3.14 If an employee is on a fixed-term contract that is due to end before the end of the scheme, can we renew their contract and furlough them until the end of the scheme?

You can renew or extend a fixed-term contract that is due to end before the end of the scheme and then place them on furlough.

Those not currently at work

4.1 Can those on long-term sick be furloughed?

Yes, you can place employees who are on long-term sick leave on furlough. However, if you are not furloughing your employees and there is work to be done, the HMRC helpline has advised that employees who are on long-term sick leave, should be treated as absent due to sickness.

4.2 Can furloughed employees call in sick?

Yes they can and as the employer you can decide whether to move these employees onto company/statutory sick pay or keep them on furlough, at their furloughed rate. However, the employee must receive an amount equivalent to the SSP rate as a minimum, which is in line with their statutory rights.

4.3 Can those self-isolating be furloughed?

The job retention scheme is not intended for short-term absence from work due to sickness, including self-isolation. Self-isolation should not be a consideration in deciding whether to furlough an employee. Employees who need to self-isolate can be placed on sick leave for the period they are required to self-isolate, usually for a period of two weeks, and paid in accordance with your sick pay policy. However, if you need to furlough employees for business reasons, you can furlough self-isolating employees, as with other employees. In these cases, the employee should no longer receive sick pay and would be classified as a furloughed worker.

4.4 Are employees who are shielding placed on sick pay or furlough?

They can be placed on furlough however, the company is not obliged to do so.

4.5 Can those on maternity leave be furloughed?

Only when they are ready to return to work. Employees are required to give a minimum of eight weeks’ notice to end their maternity leave and come back to work earlier than intended. Bear in mind that if an employee on maternity leave gives notice to return and you suspect this is so they can be furloughed with everyone else, you may agree to this. However, explain to them that the furlough period is a temporary measure and they will not be able to return to maternity leave once the furloughed period ends. Again, any abuse of the scheme may be deemed fraudulent.

4.6 What if we have an enhanced maternity pay policy?

While you cannot furlough employees as such (as their status of work will not change), you can claim for 80% of the enhanced maternity pay.

4.7 What about those about to go on maternity leave, can they be furloughed?

Yes, then their status changes when their maternity leave commences.

4.8 Can employees on unpaid leave be furloughed?

Yes, those on unpaid leave after 28 February can be furloughed and access the scheme. However, you may not make claims for pre-agreed sabbaticals or periods of unpaid leave under the CJRS.

4.9 What if an employee left my employment but wants to be reemployed to be furloughed?

For any employees that were employed and on the payroll and including on an RTI submission by 23 September but have since stopped working for you can be reemployed and furloughed.

This is your choice, you are under no obligation to reemploy them. It could be helpful for those employers that hadn’t yet managed to replace the person and where the person was a real asset to the company.

4.10 What if an employee’s fixed term agreement has ended, can we reemploy and furlough them?

Yes, as long as they were employed and included on an RTI submission by the dates mentioned above.

Redundancy

5.1 We’re in redundancy consultation now, can we furlough those employees?

Yes, it can be considered by the employer as an alternative to redundancy. However, if the redundancy is not connected to Coronavirus, you are not under any obligation to furlough your employees.

5.2 What if the redundancy consultations are connected to Coronavirus?

During consultation, you should consider all alternatives to redundancy. If you do not consider the option to furlough, you could be at risk of unfair dismissal claims.

5.3 Can you start redundancy consultation during a furlough period?

Yes. However redundancy pay is the full responsibility of the employer and no claims can be made through the job retention scheme in attempt to cover this payment.

5.4 Can you claim for notice periods through the job retention scheme?

On 1 November 2020, the Government have confirmed that payment in lieu of notice cannot be claimed for through the scheme. With effect from 1 December 2020 employers will no longer be able to claim for either statutory or contractual notice periods through the scheme. Therefore, as from 1 December 2020, any form of notice period being served by employees will need to be paid in full (100% of usual contractual pay) by the employer only.

5.5 If an employee is made redundant after we have taken advantage of the job retention scheme, is the grant repayable?

No.

5.6 What if an employee has recently been made redundant, can I reemploy and furlough them?

For any employees that were employed and on the payroll and including on an RTI submission by 23 September but have since been made redundant or stopped working for you can be reemployed and furloughed.

Staying in touch with your employees 

6.1 Can we contact employees who are furloughed?

It is important to keep in contact with employees throughout their furlough period as long as you are not asking them to undertake work for the company in their furlough period. Although furloughed they are still very much part of the Company and would benefit from business performance and updates. Checking in with these employees regularly to understand how they are feeling and getting a picture of their wellbeing (financial, social, physical and mental) can help you provide the right support for these individuals.