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Update - Furloughed Leave

14 Apr 2020

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) online portal is due to open on 20 April. HMRC hopes to make the first payments by 30 April and, going forward, to pay employers within 6 working days of claims being submitted. New guidance to assist employers with submitting claims is to be issued shortly.

HMRC also aims to contact all self-employed individuals, who are eligible to claim under the Self-employed Income Protection Scheme, by mid-May and to make payments under the scheme by early June 2020.

The CJRS guidance has been updated over the Easter weekend to confirm:

  • Short term illness/ self-isolation should not be a consideration in deciding whether to furlough an employee. If, however, employers want to furlough employees for business reasons and they are currently off sick, they are eligible to do so, as with other employees.
  • It is up to employers to decide whether to furlough employees who are being shielded or off on long-term sick leave.
  • Furloughed employees retain their statutory rights, including their right to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). This means that furloughed employees who become ill must be paid at least SSP. It is up to employers to decide whether to move these employees onto SSP or to keep them on furlough. If a furloughed employee is:
    • moved onto SSP, employers can no longer claim for the furloughed salary. Employers are required to pay SSP themselves, although may qualify for a rebate for up to 2 weeks of SSP.
    • kept on the furloughed rate by the employer, they remain eligible to claim for these costs through the furloughed scheme.
  • Foreign nationals are eligible to be furloughed. Grants under the scheme are not counted as ‘access to public funds’, and employers can furlough employees on all categories of visa.
  • When on furlough, employees cannot undertake work for, or on behalf, of the organisation or any linked or associated organisation.
  • If either TUPE or PAYE business succession rules apply to a change in ownership, a new employer is eligible to claim under the CJRS in respect of the employees of a previous business transferred after 28th February 2020.
  • If a group of companies have multiple PAYE schemes and there is a transfer of all employees from these schemes into a new consolidated PAYE scheme after 28 February 2020, the new scheme will be eligible to furlough those employees.
  • Employers cannot claim for:
    • additional National Insurance or pension contributions they make because they chose to top up an employee’s salary
    • any pension contributions above the mandatory employer contribution

A number or issues are still yet to be clarified, such as annual leave during furloughed leave, and it is hoped that further guidance will be issued soon. If you have any queries in relation to furloughed leave, or any other workplace issues, please contact our employment team.