Coronavirus payroll timeline

With thanks to Julie Northover who has produced a comprehensive timeline which maps key dates for the payroll professionals dealing with COVID-19 Government measures.

Date Event
28 Feb 2020 Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) original eligibility date. i.e. The latest date an employer must have reported an employee to HMRC via an FPS to be able to make a CJRS grant claim in respect of that employee. (This date was later amended to the 19 March 2020).
28 Feb 2020 Employers with a headcount of less than 250 employees as of  this date eligible to reclaim a maximum of 100% x 2 weeks’ SSP per employee for Covid-19 related absences only.

Reclaim details not announced at this stage, but expected to be via a government portal by April 2020.
1 Mar 2020 The date from which claims under the CJRS can be made, and backdated to.
4 Mar 2020 Government announced that for COVID-19 related illness only, the three waiting days do not apply. SSP is payable from the first day of a PIW.
11 Mar 2020 The Chancellor announced £30 billion of additional support for public services, individuals and businesses experiencing financial difficulties as a direct result of Covid-19.
13 Mar 2020 A new definition for sickness introduced specifically for Covid-19 related absences where employees follow Govt. guidelines to self-isolate.

The scheme made available  for absences between 13 March and 12 November 2020.
17 Mar 2020 The Chancellor announced a package of government-backed and guaranteed loans to support businesses, making available an initial £330 billion of guarantees.
18 Mar 2020 Government announce the postponement of the off-payroll working rules from 6 April 2020 to 6 April 2021 in response to Covid-19 to help businesses deal with the economic impacts of the pandemic.
19 Mar 2020 CJRS eligibility date. Latest date an employer must have reported an employee to HMRC via a FPS to be able to make a CJRS grant claim in respect of that employee. (Date originally announced as 28th February).
24 Mar 2020 Gender Pay Gap reporting suspended for 2019-20 in response to Covid-19.
25 Mar 2020 Covid-19 Act introduced giving Government new legal powers to offer whatever further financial support it thinks necessary to support businesses.
26 Mar 2020

First version of the CJRS guidance published.

26 Mar 2020 Under The Working Time (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations the Government announced a temporary new law to deal with the Covid-19 disruption.

It allows workers to carry-over up to four weeks of untaken leave through to the next two leave years where it is not reasonably practicable for some, or all, of the leave to be taken due to Covid-19.
26 Mar 2020 The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) guidance published.

The claims process is due to launch in June 2020.
30 Mar 2020 Government temporarily adjusted Right to Work checks due to Covid-19.
3 Apr 2020 An announcement that all Direct Earnings Attachments issued by DWP should be suspended in April, May and June. Employers to be advised if this is due to be extended.
4 Apr 2020 Further guidance issued from Government to clarify that annual leave can be taken whilst someone is on furlough.
6 Apr 2020 Amendments made to Schedule 7 of the Employment Rights Act to introduce a temporary right to Statutory Emergency Volunteering Leave to enable workers to take unpaid leave to volunteer in health and social care.

A UK-wide fund to be introduced to compensate volunteers for their loss of earnings and expenses. It is expected to operate similarly to that for Jury Service.
7 Apr 2020 HMRC confirmed that company cars remain a reportable Benefit in Kind to employees on furlough leave and/or working from home because the car is still available to the employee. HMRC also confirmed that it will not accept a SORN declaration as proof of unavailability.

In view of the obstacles placed on employees wishing to return their cars during lockdown to satisfy the unavailability rule and avoid a tax charge, HMRC agreed that “virtual handovers” would be acceptable. This would mean that the handover is carried out with no physical contact.
15 Apr 2020 Announcement that the furlough scheme eligibility cut-off date extended from 28 February to 19 March 2020.
15 Apr 2020 Treasury Direction number one published.
16 Apr 2020 The SSP legislation and guidance was updated in relation to the Covid-19 SSP rebate scheme.

Eligibility to reclaim is extended to those shielding in line with public health guidance (but not backdated to 13 March)
17 Apr 2020 CJRS scheme extended by a further month. Was 1 March to 31 May and now 1 March to 30 June 2020.
20 Apr 2020 The CJRS portal opened.

Within the first two hours, 185,000 claims were submitted, with a total value of £1.5bn for 1.3m employees.
24 Apr 2020 Employer Bulletin Issue 83 published. It confirmed that Covid-19 SSP reclaims will be classed as State Aid.
25 Apr 2020

Guidance was changed relating to how to calculate the Average Weekly Earnings (AWE)  for child-related absences where an employee’s relevant earnings are affected because of furlough leave. For absences beginning on or after 25 April.

The earnings used to work out their AWE for the part of the 8-week period that they were furloughed will be the higher of either what they:

  • actually received from their employer
  • would have received from their employer had they not been on furlough
27 Apr 2020 First CJRS payments received by employers from HMRC.
6 May 2020 HMRC announced no extension to deadlines for submission of P11Ds or the issuing of P60’s to employees.
12 May 2020 CJRS scheme extended by a further 4 months. Was 1 March to 30 June and now 1 March to 31 October 2020.
13 May 2020 Exemption for coronavirus related reimbursed home office expenses announced.
26 May 2020 Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate scheme launched.
29 May 2020 Chancellor announced a new flexible furlough programme will begin in July 2020. (One month earlier than previously announced)
29 May 2020 Government publish guidance and a fact sheet of the extended CJRS. Further guidance to be published on 12 June 2020.
29 May 2020 Extension to the SEISS was announced, with a second and final grant being made to self-employed individuals, where their businesses have been adversely impacted by the outbreak of coronavirus.
5 June 2020

CJRS claims through the online portal introduce the facility to declare an error in a previous claim that resulted in a claim being too high.  The total claim can be reduced accordingly.

Where an error has occurred and an employer is seeking a refund, these requests must still be made by contacting HMRC directly.

8 June 2020

Anyone entering the UK from 8 June must self-isolate (quarantine) at a named location for 14 days.  SSP is not payable for this period as it is not classed as sickness as it is not as a result of any public health guidance.

10 Jun 2020

This is the latest date that an employee can commence furlough leave for the first time. This is to enable a minimum 3-week furlough leave period prior to the flexible furlough schemes’ introduction on 1 July.

There is the exception that parents returning from a period of parental leave after 10 June 2020 will be eligible for the CJRS.

30 Jun 2020 CJRS closed to new entrants.
1 Jul 2020 New CJRS begins. Claim periods will be limited to months. Employees can return to work on a part-time basis and employers may still receive payments under the CJRS grant for hours not worked.
31 Jul 2020 The latest date for employers to submit CJRS claims in respect of furlough leave between 1 March and 30 June 2020.
1 Aug 2020 CJRS claims can no longer include employer NICs or pension. The Government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 only. Employer must now pay the employer NICs and pension on any hours not worked, and must also pay for any hours employees work plus the associated on-costs.
1 Sep 2020 CJRS claims reduced to 70% of wages up to a cap of £2,187.50. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and 10% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500. Employers must also pay employees for any hours they work, plus the associated on-costs.
1 Oct 2020 CJRS claims reduced to 60% of wages up to a cap of £1,875.00. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and 20% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500. Employers must also pay employees for any hours they work, plus the associated on-costs.
31 Oct 2020 CJRS scheme closes