The coronavirus job retention scheme (CJRS) has been extended till 30th April 2021. The extension of the furlough scheme has predominately remained the same, in that:
- Any employer can use the scheme and they do not previously have had to have used the CJRS;
- Employees must have been on RTI as of 30thOctober 2020;
- The furlough grant is 80% (or capped at £2,500) for hours not worked;
- Employees can be on full or flexi-furlough;
- No work is allowed during period of furlough.
What changes have been made to the furlough scheme?
From 1st December 2020 employers can no longer claim for notice under the scheme. This applies to both contractual and statutory notice periods.
Adjustments will need to be made if an employee starts a period of notice on a day covered by a previously submitted claim.
Can I furlough employees for Christmas holidays/shutdown?
There has been a stipulation in the new scheme rules and clarification from the HMRC that states that employees should not be placed on furlough for a period simply because they are on holiday for that period. As such, those who are on Christmas shut down cannot be placed on furlough just for the reasons of the shut down or due to general seasonal down turn.
However, those employees who have been consistently accessing the furlough scheme can take their annual leave. Any holiday taken needs to be paid a normal pay; therefore, the employer will be responsible for topping up the furlough payment to their normal rate of pay for any hours taken as annual leave. Where the pay rate varies, holiday is calculated based on the average pay over the last 52 working weeks where work was carried out.
If the employee usually works bank holidays, then the employer can agree that this is included in the grant payment and it should be topped up to their usual pay or give the employee a day of holiday in lieu.
Can you force employees to take holiday while on furlough?
Yes, Employers can:
- require employee to take holiday
- cancel an employee’s holiday, if they give enough notice to the worker
You need to ensure you give your employee the right amount of notice.
The required notice periods are:
- double the length of the holiday if the employer wishes to require an employee to take holiday on particular days
- the length of the planned holiday if the employer wishes to cancel an employee’s holiday or require the employee not to take holiday on particular dates
Employers can ask employees to take or cancel holiday with less notice but need the employee’s agreement to do so.
From February 2021, as part of HMRC’s commitment to transparency and to deter fraudulent claims, the Government will publish information about employers who claim for periods starting on or after 1st December 2020.
The following information will be published on GOV.UK:
- the employer name
- an indication of the value of the claim
- the company number for companies and Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs)
HMRC will also be improving the information available to employees by including details of claims made for them, for claim periods starting on or after 1 December 2020 in their Personal Tax Account on GOV.UK.
HMRC will check claims, and payments may be withheld. They may also need to be paid back if a claim is found to be fraudulent or based on incorrect information.
Employees will be able to report fraud to HMRC if they believe their employer is abusing the scheme. This could include:
- claiming on the employee’s behalf and not paying the employee what they’re entitled to
- Employer asking an employee to work whilst on furlough
- making a backdated claim that includes times when the employee was working
If you have any questions about furloughing your staff, please call us on 0845 2626 260 to speak to a HR expert.