November 11 Updated Furlough Guidance

Detailed guidance on CJRS V3

HMRC updated their detailed guidance with details of how to make furlough claims after 1 November 2020 (CJRS V3) on 10 November 2020.  This claim is at 80% (capped) of usual wage, so higher than September and October, but employers pension contribution and NIC contributions are not recoverable.

The vast majority of the detail and guidance is the same as, and follows on from the prior versions of CJRS, but there are already some points of difference that this note highlights.

The guidance notes are updated regularly, sometimes more than once on the same day, so the detailed guidance should always be reviewed if there are specific concerns or queries.  All current updated guidance can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

Deadline for CJRS V2

The last day that employers can submit or change claims for periods ending before 31 October 2020 is 30 November 2020, so it is very important that all companies review and ensure that all claims under the prior CJRS have been submitted prior to this date.

Shorter deadlines for claims under CJRS V3

Claims from 1 November 2020 must be submitted by 11.59pm 14 calendar days after the month the claim is being made for. If this time falls on the weekend then claims should be submitted on the next working day.  This means deadlines will be 

Claim for furlough days in Claim must be submitted by

November 2020                 14 December 2020

December 2020                 14 January 2021

January 2021                 15 February 2021

February 2021                 15 March 2021

March 2021                 14 April 2021

This is a very short deadline, particularly if a weekly or monthly payroll straddles a month-end.  The December deadline will also be under some pressure due to Christmas holidays.  It is likely also that the online claim portal will be under immense pressure as the deadlines approach, so claims should be made as soon as possible.

It is worth bearing in mind that HMRC may accept a claim made after the relevant deadline if you had a reasonable excuse for failing to make a claim in time and you then claimed without delay after the excuse no longer applied, but this cannot be relied on.

In addition, for claims relating to periods after 1 November 2020, you will only be able to increase the amount of your claim if you amend the claim within 28 calendar days after the month the claim relates to (unless this falls on a weekend and then it is the next working day).

To amend a claim for:             You must amend the claim by 11:59pm on:

November 2020                     29 December 2020

December 2020                     28 January 2020

January 2021                     1 March 2020

February 2021                     29 March 2020

March 2021                     28 April 2020

Which employees can you claim for?

Claims can be made for any employees who were employed on 30 October 2020, as long as there was a PAYE RTI submission to HMRC between the 20 March 2020 and 30 October 2020, notifying a payment of earnings for that employee. This may differ where an employee was re-employed after 23 September 2020.

An employee does not have to have been furloughed before to be able to be furloughed from 1 November 2020.

As before, employers can furlough employees for any amount of time and any work pattern, while still being able to claim the grant for the hours not worked.

The maximum number of employees that can be claimed for is not restricted by the number of employees claimed for in prior claims.

To be eligible for the grant, employers must have confirmed to their employee  in writing that they have been furloughed and this agreement must be retained for HMRC if requested.

Where consistent with employment law, any flexible furlough or furlough agreement made retrospectively that has effect from 1 November 2020 will be valid for the purposes of a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme claim. Only retrospective agreements put in place up to and including the 13 November 2020 may be relied on for the purposes of a claim.  Given this guidance was only published on 10 November 2020 this seems harsh.

Holidays

The updated note states that whilst employees can take holiday whilst on furlough, employees should not be placed on furlough for a period simply because they are on holiday for that period.   This is a point to bear in mind when considering the Christmas period.

Usual wages – being the wage that furlough calculations are based on

If an employee was on furlough during October and is on a fixed salary, their usual wage for furlough purposes will be unchanged from the October claim.  If they were not furloughed in October the reference period for calculating their usual wage is:

  • The pay for the last pay period pre 19/2/20 if they were

           • On your payroll on 19 March 2020 or

           • A prior furlough claim has been made for them

  • Otherwise it is the last pay period ending on or before 30/10/20

If an employee is variably paid 

If they were on your payroll on 19 March 2020 or a CJRS claim has already made for the employee pre 31/10/20  the usual wage is the higher of:

  • the wages earned in the corresponding calendar period in the tax year 2019 to 2020
  • the average wages payable in the tax year 2019 to 2020

for any other employees you use the average wage from 6 April 2020 (or later if the employment started later) and the date of furlough post 1/11/20.

So in other words, the calculation of the usual wages for employees who were in employment pre 19/3/20 is unchanged from the rules that we are used to, but there is an addition for any employees who started post this date.

Similar rules apply to the usual hours calculation, usual hours are required to calculate the furlough claim for any employees not fully furloughed in any period.