There have been further recent announcements and guidance updates on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) over the last few days. Of note:
Extension: the CJRS is to be extended until 30 June 2020. Employers still need to be mindful of the need to commence collective consultation in the not too distant future in respect of any proposed redundancies (depending upon the ‘at risk’ numbers of course).
To agree or not to agree? The HMRC guidance now states that employers must ‘confirm in writing to their employee’ that they have been furloughed, and that ‘if this is done in a way that is consistent with employment law’ then that will constitute valid consent for the purpose of the scheme. The HMRC guidance goes on to say that ‘the employee does not have to provide a written response’. This still unfortunately conflicts with the Treasury’s Direction which states employees can only be furloughed for the purpose of the CJRS if the employer and employee have agreed in writing that the employee will cease all work.
Finally guidance on annual leave! The HMRC guidance for employees has also been updated to refer to annual leave. The employee guidance confirms, as suspected, that workers continue to accrue annual leave while on furlough, and that they are entitled to take leave during their furlough leave. Guidance on bank holidays and holiday pay was also given.
The process: The portal opened at 5.30am today and HMRC has published two new guidance documents detailing how to claim under the CJRS from a procedure perspective and how to calculate 80% of an employee’s wages. This includes guidance on which payments can be taken into account (i.e. ‘regular wages’, non-discretionary overtime, non-discretionary commission payments) and which cannot (i.e. tips, discretionary bonuses, discretionary commission payments, non-monetary benefits).
Statutory sick pay: HMRC has confirmed that employees do not qualify for SSP if on Furlough and that those individuals who have been advised to shield can qualify for SSP (albeit they can be Furloughed too).
If you have any queries in relation to CRJS, or any other workplace issues, please contact our employment team.