The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has announced that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (also known as the furlough scheme) will remain open until 31 March 2021. For claim periods running to January 2021, employees will receive 80% of their usual salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month, hence the scheme is more generous than the scheme running in September and October. The percentage may be reviewed for February and March.
Full guidance is due to be published next week, on 10 November 2020. However, we know this much from the HMRC Policy Paper:
- employers can claim even if they, or the relevant employees, had not previously used the CJRS.
- the furlough will continue to be flexible, i.e. employees can continue to do some work.
- employees who have previously been furloughed continue to have their reference pay and hours based on the existing furlough calculations (as under the old scheme). Employees who have not previously been furloughed will have a different pay/hours reference period. Full guidance will be provided on 10 November, but broadly the pay is based on 80% of the wages payable in the last pay period ending on or before 30 October 2020 (for those on fixed wages), or 80% of the average payable between the start date of their employment or 6 April 2020 (whichever is later) and the day before their CJRS extension furlough periods begins (for those on variable wages).
- employees can be furloughed if they are shielding in line with public health guidance (or need to stay at home with someone who is shielding). That does not, of course, mean they have to be furloughed.
- employees that were employed and on the payroll on 23 September 2020 who were made redundant or stopped working for their employer after that date can be re-employed and claimed for.
- the Job Support Scheme and the Job Retention Bonus have been put on hold (for now).
I have prepared a template CJRS agreement for employers to give to employees on furlough. It is available for free to all registered purchasers of www.gettingredundancyright.com or members of www.hrinnercircle.co.uk. Members of www.hrinnercircle.co.uk also have regular online Q&A sessions where I or a leading QC answer your employment law and furlough questions. The next Q&A session is at 2pm tomorrow (6th November 2020).