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Key Changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for Employers

At the beginning of November the Chancellor announced at the beginning of November that the Coronavirus Job Retention (Furlough) Scheme (CJRS) would be extended across the UK until 31 March 2021. Guidance about how the scheme would operate during this extension has now been published along with a fourth Treasury Direction.  While the CJRS remains very similar to the scheme that has been in place for many months, there are some important changes for employers to be aware of

Employees on notice:

Government guidance suggests that employers can still claim for employees who are serving a notice period on furlough during November 2020.  However, from 1st December 2020 it will not be possible for employers to make a claim for a furlough grant in respect of any days on which an employee is on a notice period.  This applies no matter the reason for the notice period, so will apply equally to those employees who have resigned as to those who have been made redundant.  It would be prudent to factor this potential cost in to any redundancy plans.

Maximum numbers of furloughed employees:

Prior to November 2020, employers were limited in the number of employees for whom they could claim furlough support.  However, this limit has now been removed, potentially making the CJRS a more useful tool for businesses than it had been over the past few months.

Employees returning from Maternity Leave:

Under earlier versions of the guidance employees returning from Maternity Leave were required to give eight weeks’ notice of their return before they could return to work and be placed on furlough.  This has now been amended by the Government, allowing employees and employers to agree a shorter period of notice.

Submissions of claims:

As previously, claims must be made through the Government’s online portal.  However, the time limits for making claims online have been amended.  October claim periods must be submitted by 30th November, while claims for November, December and January must be made by 14th December, 14th January and 15th February respectively.

Amending claims:

The dates for amending claims have also been amended.  For claims made in respect of November claim periods, any amendments must be made by 29th December 2020, for December claim periods any amendments must be made by 28th January 2021 and for any January claim periods amendments must be made by 1st March 2021.

Publication of employer details:

From December 2020, HMRC will publish the names and company numbers of all employers who make claims for support from the CJRS.  They will also publish the amount of support given to each employer.  This is a condition of receiving the financial support available and the information is likely to be published on the Government’s website.  The only exception is where an employer can show that the publication of these details would lead to a serious risk of violence or intimidation, which is unlikely to be particularly common.

Job Retention Bonus:

The newest Treasury Direction confirms that this has been withdrawn.  It is expected that a replacement scheme will be created in due course.

There are various online guidance documents which have been published by the Government in relation to the extended CJRS.  Of all of these, we recommend consideration of the ‘step by step guide for employers’ – now on edition nine and available here.

This guide sets out clearly how to calculate and make a claim under the extended CJRS. If your business needs any support or you would like to discuss how any aspect of the CJRS impacts your business please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team for a free consultation on legal@lexleyton.co.uk or https://lexleyton.co.uk/free-consultation/

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