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Further guidance from HM Revenue & Customs has provided clarification for employers and employees regarding the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. 

Details are being updated regularly and include who is eligible, how much can be claimed to cover the wages of employees who are on furlough (temporary leave) due to COVID-19 and how to claim.

Key updates include:

 

  • Employees who had two jobs can still work for one employer, and receive their usual wages, while in receipt of a furloughed payment from the other employer.

 

  • Apprentices can be furloughed and can continue to train but employers must pay at least the Apprenticeship Minimum Wage, National Living Wage or National Minimum Wage, as appropriate, for the time spent training.

 

  • An employee who is placed on furlough is permitted to start a new job with a different employer (subject to their contract with the employer who has furloughed them).
  • Earnings should disregard anything except regular salary or wages. You must disregard any performance related bonus or commission payments that are dependent upon achieving a work related output, discretionary bonus (including tips) and  benefit in kind payments, except where the variation in the amount arises as a result of a legally enforceable agreement, scheme, transaction or series of transactions. 
  • ‘Limb (b) workers’, i.e. non-employees who satisfy the definition of ‘worker’ in S.230(3)(b) of the Employment Rights Act 1996, are eligible for furlough so long as they are paid through PAYE.

 

  • Employers must notify their employees in writing that they are being furloughed and must cease all work and have written acceptance from the employees of this instruction. Employers must keep a record of that notification and acceptance for five years.

 

If an employee is on sick leave or self-isolating due to Coronavirus, they qualify for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) subject to other eligibility conditions applying.

Employers are also entitled to furlough employees who are being shielded or off on long-term sick leave once the initial period of sick leave after the decision to Furlough ends. It is up to employers to decide whether to furlough these employees. You can claim back from both the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the SSP rebate scheme for the same employee but not for the same period of time.

Making a claim

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is now up and running. If you are eligible to claim, you’ll need to be registered for PAYE online and provide the following:

 

  1. Your employer PAYE scheme reference number
  2. The UK bank account number and sort code you want HMRC to use to pay a claim
  3. A contact name and phone number so HMRC can call with any questions
  4. Your Self-Assessment UTR (Unique Taxpayer Reference), Corporation Tax UTR or Company Registration Number
  5. The total furlough claim period (start and end date)
  6. The number of employees being furloughed
  7. The National Insurance number of each furloughed employee (employee’s payroll or employee number are optional)
  8. The total sum you are claiming, including employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum pension contributions

If you use an agent for PAYE, they will be able to make a claim on your behalf. However, a file-only agent (who files your RTI return but doesn’t otherwise act for you), won’t be able to assist – you will need to make the claim yourself. A file agent will be able to help you assemble the necessary information (listed above) to make a claim.

Full details on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme are available at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme and there’s a useful recorded webinar, ‘Coronavirus (COVID-19) Job Retention Scheme’, on HMRC’s YouTube channel.