Guidance published on the Job Retention Bonus

02 October 2020

The Job Retention Bonus (JRB) is a £1,000 one-off taxable payment to employers, for each eligible employee that had been furloughed successfully at any time from 1 March 2020 to 31 October 2020 and kept that employee in meaningful continuous employment until 31 January 2021. HMRC has now issued detailed guidance on this scheme.

Eligible employers will be able to claim the bonus payment between 15 February 2021 and 31 March 2021 and further details on how you can claim via an online submission will be published by the end of January 2021. It is important to note, that any monies claimed via the JRB do not have to be repaid to the employee whom you claimed for.  

Who can claim?

Employers can claim the bonus if they are an employer who has furloughed employees and made an eligible claim for them through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). The employee must have been eligible for the CJRS grant to be eligible for the bonus payments and employers are also able to make a claim for the same employee through the Job Support Scheme (JSS), meaning that they will run along side one another.

Employers will be unable to claim the bonus for any employees that have not been paid using the CJRS grant because the grants have been repaid, regardless of the reason why an employer repaid the grant amounts.

Which employees can be claimed for?

Employees that can be claimed for:

  • Have had an eligible claim for under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for them
  • Has been in continuous employment from the end of the claim period of the last Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme claim for them, until 31 January 2021
  • Is not serving a contractual or statutory notice period on 31 January 2021 (this does also include people serving notice of retirement)
  • Was paid sufficient taxable pay in each relevant tax month from November through to end of January and enough to meet the JRB minimum income threshold

If HMRC are still checking a CJRS claims, you can still claim the JRB, however, payments may be delayed until all checks are completed.

HMRC will not pay the bonus if an employer made an incorrect CJRS claim and the employee was not eligible for the CJRS.

Employees who have been transferred under TUPE or due to a change in ownership

Employers may be eligible to claim the JRB for employees of a previous business which were transferred if:

  • TUPE rules applied
  • PAYE business succession rules applied
  • The employees were associated with the transfer of a business from the liquidator of a company in compulsory liquidation where TUPE would have applied if the company was not in compulsory liquidation

In order to claim the JRB for employees that have been transferred, employers must have furloughed and successfully claimed for them under the CJRS, as their new employer. The employees must also meet all the relevant eligibility criteria for the JRB.

This will mean that employers will not be able to claim the JRB for any employees who are transferred after the CJRS closes on 31 October 2020.

Claiming for an individual who is not an employee

Claims to the JRS for individuals who are not employees, such as office holders or agency workers can be made, as long as grant claimed under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been made and the other JRB eligibility criteria are met.

To be eligible for the bonus employers must make sure that the employees being claimed for have been paid at least the minimum income threshold.

To meet the minimum income threshold, employers must pay the employee a total of at least £1,560 (gross) throughout the tax months:

  • 6 November to 5 December 2020
  • 6 December 2020 to 5 January 2021
  • 6 January to 5 February 2021

Employers must pay their employee at least one payment of taxable earnings (of any amount) in each of the relevant tax months.

The minimum income threshold criteria apply regardless of:

  • How often an employee is paid
  • Any circumstances that may have reduced an employee’s pay in the relevant tax periods, such as being on statutory leave or unpaid leave

HMRC will check that employees have been paid at least the minimum income threshold by checking information that is submitted through Full Payment Submissions via Real Time Information (RTI).

Only payments recorded as taxable pay will count towards the minimum income threshold. Taxable pay is reported to HMRC as a single figure through Full Payment Submissions via Real Time Information (RTI). Examples of  taxable pay and the minimum income threshold can be found here

Claims for the bonus cannot be made until 15 February 2021. HMRC has advised that this guidance will be updated by the end of January 2021 with details on how to access the online claim service on GOV.UK.

Before claims for the bonus can be made, employers will need to have reported all payments made to employees between 6 November 2020 and 5 February 2021 to HMRC through Full Payment Submissions via Real Time Information (RTI).

There are some steps employers need to take now to make sure that they are ready to claim.

Employers must:

  • Still be enrolled for PAYE online
  • Comply with PAYE obligations to file PAYE accurately and on time under Real Time Information (RTI) reporting for all employees between 6 April 2020 and 5 February 2021
  • Keep payrolls up to date and make sure that the leaving date for any employee is reported before the end of the pay period they leave in
  • Use the irregular payment pattern indicator in Real Time Information (RTI) for any employees not being paid regularly
  • Comply with all requests from HMRC to provide any employee data for past CJRS claims

If an employer uses an agent who is authorised to do PAYE online for them, then they will be able to claim the Job Retention Bonus on their behalf. Details of how agents can claim the bonus will also be updated by the end of January 2021.

Claims to the JRB must be made by 31 March 2021 after which, the scheme will be closed, and no further claims will be accepted.

HMRC are urging employers that the first line of contact should be via the HMRC digital assistant and they should only contact HMRC if the help cannot be gained via this method.

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