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The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and Furlough

27-Mar-2020 8:54 AM | Anonymous

Detailed guidance for businesses on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The Government has published guidance for businesses and workers on how to access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Under the scheme, all UK employers with a PAYE scheme will be able to access support to continue paying part of your employees’ salary for those that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis.

You will be able to use a portal to claim for 80% of furloughed employees’ (employees on a leave of absence) monthly wage costs, up to £2,500 a month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and the 3% minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on that wage. The scheme is expected to be up and running by the end of April.

Who can claim?

Any UK organisation with employees can apply.

You must have created and started a PAYE payroll scheme on or before 28 February 2020 and have a UK bank account.

Employees you can claim for

Furloughed employees must have been on your PAYE payroll on 28 February 2020, and can be on any type of contract.

The scheme also covers employees who were made redundant since 28 February 2020, if they are rehired by their employer.

To be eligible for the subsidy, when on furlough, an employee can not undertake work for or on behalf of the organisation. This includes providing services or generating revenue.

While on furlough, the employee’s wage will be subject to usual income tax and other deductions.

If an employee is working, but on reduced hours, or for reduced pay, they will not be eligible for this scheme and you will have to continue paying the employee.

Work out what you can claim

You will receive a grant from HMRC to cover the lower of 80% of an employee’s regular wage or £2,500 per month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on that subsidised wage. Fees, commission and bonuses should not be included.

At a minimum, employers must pay their employee the lower of 80% of their regular wage or £2,500 per month. An employer can also choose to top up an employee’s salary beyond this – but you are not obliged to.

Further guidance will be published shortly on how to calculate claims for Employer National Insurance Contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions.

Employees whose pay varies

If the employee has been employed for a full twelve months prior to the claim, you can claim for the higher of either:

  • the same month’s earning from the previous year
  • average monthly earnings from the 2019-20 tax year

If the employee has been employed for less than a year, you can claim for an average of their monthly earnings since they started work.

If the employee only started in February 2020, use a pro-rata for their earnings so far to claim.

Employer National Insurance and Pension Contributions

All employers remain liable for associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on behalf of their furloughed employees.

Top up option

You can choose to provide top-up salary in addition to the grant but you are not obliged to. Employer National Insurance Contributions and automatic enrolment contribution on any additional top-up salary will not be funded through this scheme. Nor will any voluntary automatic enrolment contributions above the minimum mandatory employer contribution of 3% of income.

Employees that have been furloughed

Employees that have been furloughed have the same rights as they did previously. That includes Statutory Sick Pay entitlement, maternity rights, other parental rights, rights against unfair dismissal and to redundancy payments.

Furlough and holiday pay

UKFT will publish details on how to deal with holiday pay very shortly.

What you’ll need to make a claim

To claim, you will need:

  • your ePAYE reference number
  • number of employees being furloughed
  • the claim period (start and end date)
  • amount claimed
  • the business bank account number and sort code
  • contact name
  • phone number

You will need to calculate the amount you are claiming. HMRC will retain the right to retrospectively audit all aspects of your claim.

You can only submit one claim at least every 3 weeks, which is the minimum length an employee can be furloughed for. Claims can be backdated to 1 March if applicable.

What to do after you’ve claimed

Once HMRC have received your claim and you are eligible for the grant, they will pay it via BACS payment to a UK bank account.

You must pay the employee all the grant you receive for their gross pay, no fees can be charged from the money that is granted.

How to inform your staff

You should discuss with your staff and make any changes to the employment contract by agreement. UKFT aim to issue template letters to help you with this process. When you are making decisions in relation to the process, including deciding who to offer furlough to, equality and discrimination laws will apply in the usual way.

To be eligible for the subsidy you should write to their employee confirming that they have been furloughed and keep a record of this communication.

Employees hired after 28 February 2020 cannot be furloughed or claimed for in accordance with this scheme.

You do not need to place all your employees on furlough. However, those employees who you do place on furlough cannot undertake work for you.

The government has published advice for employees on the Coronavirus job retention scheme here.

Moving on and off furlough

Employees must be placed on furlough for a minimum of 3 weeks. You can place employees on furlough more than once and one period can follow straight after another, while the scheme is open. The scheme will be open for at least 3 months.

If your employee is on Statutory Sick Pay

Employees on sick leave or self-isolating should get Statutory Sick Pay but can be furloughed after this.

Employees who are shielding in line with public health guidance can be placed on furlough.

If your employee is on Maternity Leave, contractual adoption pay, paternity pay or shared parental pay

Individuals who are on or plan to take Maternity Leave must take at least 2 weeks off work (4 weeks if they work in a factory or workshop) immediately following the birth of their baby. This is a health and safety requirement. In practice, most women start their Maternity Leave before they give birth.

If your employee is eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) or Maternity Allowance, the normal rules apply, and they are entitled to claim up to 39 weeks of statutory pay or allowance.

Employees who qualify for SMP, will still be eligible for 90% of their average weekly earnings in the first 6 weeks, followed by 33 weeks of pay paid at 90% of their average weekly earnings or the statutory flat rate (whichever is lower). The statutory flat rate is currently £148.68 a week, rising to £151.20 a week from April 2020.

If you offer enhanced (earnings related) contractual pay to women on Maternity Leave, this is included as wage costs that you can claim through the scheme.

The same principles apply where your employee qualifies for contractual adoption, paternity or shared parental pay.

Further details can be found here.

If Textiles Scotland members have questions or need guidance please do get in touch by emailing jaki@textilescotland.com


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