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Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) extension to March 2021: What you need to know

As we have known for some time, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) was due to end on 31st October 2020. It was to be replaced by the Government’s Job Support Scheme (JSS) which, whilst not a replacement for CJRS, was aimed at protecting viable jobs. The JSS would see employees working a minimum percentage of their normal hours (paid for by the employer) with the employer and the Government contributing pay towards some of the hours that the employee could not work. The JSS was then extended to cover workers whose employers were forced to close their premises as a result of Government measures.

As the end of the CJRS approached, however, no JSS guidance appeared. Rumours of a second lockdown began to circulate and so it came to pass that instead of the JSS being introduced on 1st November 2020, England was to be placed in a second national lockdown starting on 5th November 2020. As a result of that, the Prime Minister announced, on 31st October, that the CJRS would continue until the second lockdown ends on 2nd December 2020. Today, the Chancellor has announced that the scheme will actually continue until the end of March 2021 with a review in January 2021.

With the second lockdown beginning this morning, 5th November, employers will need to ensure that they are up to date with the current requirements of the CJRS. This is what we know so far:

1. The CJRS will be open to employees whom the employer submitted RTI to HMRC by 23.59 on 30th October 2020.
2. Employers can claim 80% of an employee’s wages subject to a cap of £2,500 per month for hours not worked. This is an increase from the 60% Government contribution which had been in place during October.
3. The employer will need to pay employer’s NI and pension contributions.
4. The employer can top up the employee’s pay over and above the 80% or £2,500 cap.
5. The CJRS covers both full furlough leave and flexible furlough leave.
6. Employees can be furloughed for the first time in November 2020 so long as they were on the payroll as of 30th October 2020. Employees need not have been furloughed previously.
7. Employers will need to confirm in writing the agreement to furlough the employee and any consequent variation to the contract of employment.
8. Those employees who were on the payroll as of 23rd September 2020 but were subsequently made redundant can qualify for furlough if they are re-employed by the employer.

As is now traditional, we await further guidance from the Government as to how the extended scheme will work. This is due to be published on 10th November 2020. That said, it is to be hoped that there will be very little difference to the mechanics of the CJRS given that this is an extension to an existing arrangement.

We will report further when the final guidance is published.

If you would like to discuss the recent guidance and the potential implications for your business in more detail, talk to our friendly employment law team on 01482 325242, or email Nick directly on nick.wilson@andrewjackson.co.uk

Correct as of 2pm 05.11.2020

 

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