Further to our post about the extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), the Chancellor announced on 5 November that the CJRS (also known as the furlough scheme) will remain open until 31 March 2021. The Government also published a policy paper setting out further details of the CJRS, confirming that the scheme rules will remain the same except where indicated otherwise.
The main points to note are that:
- For claim periods running to January 2021, employees will receive 80% of their usual salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. The £2,500 cap is proportional to the hours not worked.
- The government will review the policy in January to decide whether economic circumstances are improving enough so that employers may be asked to contribute more.
- The Job Retention Bonus (JRB) will not be paid in February 2021 as the CJRS will be continuing. However, a retention incentive will be deployed at the appropriate time.
- Employees do not have to have been furloughed previously. For new employees who meet the criteria, alternative calculations of reference pay and usual hours are used. Effectively this is based on 80% of the wages payable in the last pay period ending on or before 30 October if they are on fixed wages. If the employee Is on variable wages then the employer should use 80% of the average payable between their start date or 6 April 2020, whichever is later, and the day before the furlough period begins. Further details will be included in the guidance.
- Employees that were employed and on the payroll on 23 September 2020 who were made redundant or stopped working for their employer afterwards can be re-employed and claimed for.
- Employees can be furloughed where they are shielding in line with public health guidance or need to stay at home with someone who is shielding or have caring responsibilities resulting from coronavirus. The CJRS is not intended for short term sick absences. If employers want to furlough someone for business reasons and they are currently off sick then the employer can be placed on furlough.
- Employers should have in place an agreement with the employees that is consistent with employment, equality and discrimination laws. Any flexible furlough or furlough agreement made retrospectively that has effect from 1 November 2020 will be valid for the purposes of a CJRS claim as long as it is made according to the conditions in the policy paper. Only retrospective agreements put in place up to and including the 13 November 2020 may be relied on for the purposes of a CJRS claim.
- Employers will be able to claim from 8am on 11 November. Claims can be made in respect of an employee for a minimum 7 day claim window; in advance; in arrears for the period from 1 November 2020 to 11 November 2020. Claims relating to November 2020 must be made by 14 December. Claims in relation to each subsequent month should be submitted by day 14 of the following month.
Full guidance on the scheme will be published on 10 November 2020.