HMRC publishes guidance on the extended furlough scheme

HMRC has published further guidance in respect of the now extended Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (“CJRS”).

As previously announced, the CJRS will now continue until 31 March 2021 and, for the period 1 November 2020 to 31 January 2021, the Government will pay 80% of wages for hours not worked by furloughed employees, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. A review will take place in January 2021, following which employers may be required to make a contribution (as they did in September 2020 and October 2020).

The updated guidance provides confirmation that:

· the extended scheme is open for employees who were employed on 30 October 2020, as well as employees who were made redundant or stopped working on or after 23 September 2020 if they are then rehired;

· employers do not need to have previously claimed for an employee before 30 October 2020 to claim for periods from 1 November 2020;

· the option of “flexible furlough“ remains, meaning employers can furlough employees for any amount of time and any work pattern, while still being able to claim the grant for the hours not worked;

· employers can continue to claim for periods ending on or before 31 October 2020 until the deadline on 30 November 2020; 

· there is no maximum number of employees that an employer can claim for from 1 November 2020;

· employers must confirm in writing to the employee that they have been furloughed, and keep a written record for five years; and

· employers can agree retrospectively to furlough someone with effect from 1 November 2020, as long as the agreement to retrospectively claim furlough occurs on or before 13 November 2020.

The updated Guidance also contains two interesting developments. The first is that the Government is currently reviewing whether employers should be able to claim for employees serving contractual or statutory notice periods and will change the approach for claim periods starting on or after 1 December 2020. Further guidance on this review will be published in late November 2020. 

The change of approach regarding furlough grant claims for employees serving out notice periods would on the surface appear to be a reflection of the CJRS purpose as a job retention scheme, but in practice may simply encourage employers to bring forward any planned dismissals to ensure notice is served before the change of approach kicks in. 

The second development is that, from December 2020, HMRC will publish employer names and company registration numbers of any companies and Limited Liability Partnerships (“LLPs”) who make claims under the CJRS for December onwards.

Please don’t hesitate to contact the team at MLP Law if you have any questions about the CJRS or need assistance on managing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on your business. You can reach us at employment@mlplaw.co.uk or @HRHeroUK or on 0161 926 9969.