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Coronavirus COVID-19: Extended Furlough UPDATES

Yesterday, the government published some additional guidance for the extended CJRS, which started on 1st November 2020 and will run for the next 6 months. The main points are detailed below. These points are in addition to the information given in our previous mailer, so please ensure that you are familiar with both.

Written on November 12, 2020 by Xeinadin Group

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Claims

Claims for the period up to and including 31st October 2020 should be submitted by 30th November 2020. This includes any ‘balancing’ that needs to be done as a result of over or under claims being made. After 30th November, you will not be able to make any further claims for the period prior to 31st October 2020.

All claims from 1st November 2020 must be submitted by the 14th of the following month. So, for example, all claims for November, must be submitted by 14th December 2020. This is an important new change to be aware of, as it is different to the previous scheme.

The new claims portal will open today – 11th November 2020.

There is no maximum number of employees that can be claimed for. Nor a minimum length of time someone must be furloughed for. Both full and flexible furlough options remain available.

Holidays can continue to be claimed for under the scheme, but as before, must be ‘topped up’ to 100% pay. Someone cannot be placed on furlough simply because they are due to be on holiday.

Anyone on statutory notice can continue to be claimed for, however, this does not apply to PILON or redundancy payments.

Eligibility

For an employee to be eligible they must have been on the payroll by 30th October 2020 and have an RTI submitted to HMRC between 20th March 2020 and 30th October 2020. They do not have to have been furloughed previously.

To be eligible for the grant, the employer must have confirmed to their employee in writing that they have been furloughed (either fully or flexibly).

If you are placing employees on furlough from 1st November, but do not currently have anything in writing, then it is important to do so by 13th November 2020. Failure to have an agreement in place by this time for any retrospective claims, will be rejected.

For those with lay-off/short-time working clauses in their contract, you will simply be able to send a letter to your employees confirming the situation – without the need for agreement or consultation. However, for those without such clauses, and if previous signed agreements were timebound, then you will need to enter into a further consultation and communication process to get their signed agreement to vary their terms and conditions temporarily in order to place them on furlough going forward.

Once these signed agreements are up and running, you can then simply email your employees to inform them of their varying furlough/working situation.

It is important to keep these records for 5 years, as was the case previously.

Re-employment

Anyone who left employment between 23rd September and 31st October 2020 can be reinstated and placed onto the furlough scheme.

There is no obligation on the employer to do so, it is simply an option.

When re-employing you can either:

  • Re-instate the employment relationship – whereby you re-hire on previous employment terms and the employee continues to be employed by the business and continues to receive all the benefits and rights associated with that employment. Or;
  • Re-instate without the employment relationship – whereby you could decide to re-hire someone purely to give them access to furlough scheme, but without any of the associated employment benefits of previous employment.

In both scenarios, it is important that your intentions are agreed, documented and signed. 

Additional reasons to furlough

Although there is no shielding in the current lockdown, the government has confirmed that if an employee is unable to work because they are clinically extremely vulnerable then they can be placed on furlough.

Also, if an employee is unable to work because they have caring responsibilities resulting from COVID-19, including employees that need to look after children, then they can also be furloughed.

Those on long-term sick can be furloughed.

The guidance confirms that furlough should not be used for short-term absence or self-isolation, this should continue as sick leave and be paid SSP or company sick pay. However, if business reason dictate that there is a need for furlough, along with other employees, then they can be moved from sick to furlough accordingly. 

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