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Flexible Furlough – and other important changes to the CJRS

On Friday 28 May, the Chancellor provided more details about how the current Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) will operate after 30 July 2020 – there were further changes announced in government guidance published the following day.

There is a lot of information so I wanted to highlight some of the headlines that small businesses should be aware of so that they can plan how to manage their workforce in light of the changes.

Here is a very quick summary of the scheme as it exists and the changes from 01 July 2020:

  • Employers can furlough employees who were notified as being on the PAYE scheme from 19 March 2020 for a minimum of 3 weeks and receive 80% of their employment costs including NI and pension contributions for the months of March, April, May, June and July. Employees cannot carry out any work for the organisation during March, April, May and June

  • From 01 July, the flexible furlough scheme will begin operating allowing employers to bring back employees on a reduced working basis and still make some claims under the furlough scheme – I will cover the details about how this will operate later

  • From 01 August 2020, employers will no longer be able to claim NI and Pensions costs under the furlough scheme and will have to cover these costs themselves

  • From 01 September 2020, employers will only be able to claim 70% of employees' earnings under the CJRS and will have to top up earnings of furloughed employees to 80% i.e. fund 10% of the employees' earnings

  • From 01 October 2020, employers will only be able to claim 60% of employees' earnings under the CJRS and will have to top up earnings of furloughed employees to 80% i.e. fund 20% of the employees' earnings

  • The CJRS scheme will cease on 31 October 2020

There are some deadlines that you need to be aware of:

  • The last date for furloughing a previously unfurloughed employee is 10 June 2020 - Employers will only be able to claim for any employees who were furloughed for a minimum of 3 weeks before 30 June 2020

  • The last date for claiming NI and pension contributions in 31 July 2020 – around 40% of employers have not yet claimed NI and pension contributions. This may be due to eligibility but check your eligibility and submit a claim before 31 July

  • From 01 July 2020, claim periods will no longer be able to overlap months. So make sure you submit your final claim where months have overlapped by 30 June so you can begin claiming full months only.

So, what does Flexible Furlough mean?

In essence, flexible furlough has been put in place to allow employers who can offer their people some work but not their full hours to do so without losing the support of the CJRS. We are expecting further guidance to be issued regarding this scheme on 12 June 2020 but here are the basics:

  • From 1 July, employers will be able to agree any working arrangements with previously furloughed employees.

  • Employers must agree with their employees any new flexible furloughing arrangement and confirm that agreement in writing

  • Employers can claim the grant for the hours their employees are not working calculated by reference to their usual hours worked in a claim period

  • For worked hours, employees will be paid by their employer subject to their employment contract and employers will be responsible for paying the tax and NICs due on those amounts – remember from 01 August, employers will be liable for all NI and pension contributions on hours worked and monies claimed under CJRS

  • Employers will need to report hours worked and the usual hours an employee would be expected to work in a claim period

  • The minimum reporting period for claiming CJRS grant in these situations is a week but you can claim in larger cycles

And remember to keep detailed records for at least 6 years - HMRC will be auditing claims made under the scheme in the future.

The changes to the CJRS are less onerous on employers than had been anticipated and many small businesses will be relieved about the approach being taken.

While positive for many, there will still be businesses who need to reduce their workforce or cannot survive. My previous blog covers information about such circumstances as well as tips for organisations on how to get their people back in to the workplace.

As always, if you are a small business who needs support navigating this process, get in touch. From template letters to policy development or re-induction process to redundancy consultation, 2020 HR can help. The free 30 minute telephone consultation is still available so you have nothing to lose by having a chat.

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