Extension of the Furlough Scheme (CJRS)
On Saturday 31st October the Prime Minister announced a further national lockdown in England to address the increasing rate of Covid-19 infections throughout the UK. This lockdown commenced on 5th November and will remain in place until at least 2nd December 2020.
Under the previous tiered ‘local’ lockdown arrangements, the Government had announced two Job Support Schemes which were intended to succeed the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough scheme). These schemes were known as the ‘JSS Closed’, aimed at businesses that had been forced to close under the tiered restrictions and the ‘JSS Open’, a scheme for businesses who although affected by Covid-19, were still able to open. These schemes were due to replace the existing furlough scheme when it ended on 31 October 2020, with the Government support significantly reduced when compared with the original CJRS.
However, along with the announcement of a national lockdown throughout November, it was also announced that the CJRS would be extended for a further month. A few days after this, the Chancellor announced that this extension of the furlough scheme would now run until the end of March 2021. As such, the JSS is not likely to resurface until at least April 2021 (if at all).
How had furlough changed
By way of a reminder, the CJRS has been through several changes since its introduction in March 2020, from the Government initially funding 80% of an employee’s salary up to £2,500, with government support reducing in recent months as restrictions eased.
In October 2020, the month before the scheme was due to end, the government contributed 60% of unworked hours up to a cap of £2,187.50, with the employer paying the additional 20% along with employer national insurance and pension contributions.
How will the extension work?
In simple terms, the extension of the Furlough Scheme puts employers back to the same level of government contributions that were available in August 2020, with the Government funding 80% of eligible employees’ salary, but the employer having to contribute both employer national insurance/pension contributions themselves.
The current understanding is that the furlough extension will operate largely as it did before, however the following now applies:
- The extended scheme will run until 31 March 2021.
- The employer or employee are not required to have previously used the CJRS
- To be eligible, the employee must have been on the employer’s PAYE payroll by 23.59 on 30 October 2020 and the employer must have made a Real Time Information (RTI) submission for that employee by that date.
- The employee can be furloughed either full-time or flexibly (for part of their hours). Employers will need to report and claim for a minimum period of seven consecutive calendar days.
- The government will pay 80% of eligible wages for any unworked hours, (up to a cap of £2,500) with the employer paying employer NIC and pension contributions on these unworked hours. Employers will need to pay the employees for any hours worked as per usual.
- The employer can choose to top up to 100% if they wish but is not obliged to.
- The Job Retention bonus for employers (£1,000 for each employee kept on until the end of January 2021) will no longer be able to be claimed in February as planned, but will possibly be introduced at a later date to help avoid the impact of the furlough scheme ending.
- The Government will review the scheme in the New Year, so it is still possible that increased employer contributions could be required prior to the end of March.
As with all these announcements, further detail and guidance will follow from the government in due course.
If you require further legal assistance regarding the CJRS or and other employment law issue, take advantage of our complimentary initial consultation (available via telephone or video call) today by calling 0800 999 4437 or email email@example.com