The Government has released its latest guidance on the operation of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme from November until March 2021.
Full details of the Scheme can be found in our Coronavirus Resource Centre, but a quick overview of the changes to the Scheme from November onwards is as follows:
- The scheme is open to any employer impacted by the pandemic, including those who have not previously used it.
- Employees who have not previously been furloughed will now be eligible under the scheme, provided that they were on the employer’s payroll on 30th October 2020 and the employer made an RTI submission to HMRC in respect of the employee between 20th March 2020 and 30th October 2020.
- Employees that were employed and on the payroll on 23rd September 2020 (the day before the Job Support Scheme announcement) who were made redundant or stopped working afterwards can be re-employed and claimed for. The employer must have made an RTI submission to HMRC from 20th March 2020 to 23rd September 2020, notifying a payment of earnings for those employees.
- Employees will continue to be entitled to receive 80% of their wages (subject to a cap of £2,500 per month) and may be continuously furloughed or placed on flexible furlough (working for part of their normal hours).
- Until January there will be no employer contribution to wages, other than employer National Insurance contributions and minimum auto-enrolment pension contributions (typically amounting to 5% of employment costs).
- The extension will be reviewed in January and it may be that employers are asked to contribute to wages at that point.
- From 1st November there is no limit on the number of employees who may be furloughed (there remains a maximum limit for claim periods ending on or before 31st October).
- In November, employers may furlough employees who are on notice of termination. However, the Government has indicated that this will change in December, with more details to follow at the end of November.
- Employees who want to return from maternity leave early in order to be furloughed must give 8 weeks’ notice of their return and cannot be furloughed before this expires.
- Reference salaries for the calculation of 80% of wages have been updated, and differ depending on whether someone has been furloughed before or is a new entrant from November 2020.
- From December, the Government will publish the names of companies using the scheme.
The Government had indicated that it would release details of which employers would be eligible to use the scheme from December, suggesting that eligibility criteria may be tightened. However, it has not made any substantive changes to the categories of eligible employers.