Updates to Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme guidance – 14.05.2020
14 May 2020
New information relating to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has been added to various guides created by HMRC.
There has been updates to the guidance for employers on how to calculate claims.
Non-discretionary payments and non-discretionary overtime payments
There is additional information relating to non-discretionary payments and non-discretionary overtime payments.
When establishing if a payment is non-discretionary, only payments which employers have a contractual obligation to pay, to which an employee has an enforceable right, should be included. If variable payments are included within a contract, and those payments are made regularly, these payments could become classed as being non-discretionary. Those payments should also be included when calculating 80% of employee wages.
For the purposes of non-discretionary overtime payments, if an employee has been paid variable payments as a result of working overtime, they can be included provided that they were non-discretionary. Payments for overtime are non-discretionary if an employer has an obligation to pay the employee at a set, defined rate for any overtime they have worked.
Further guidance has been provided on what periods a claim should cover, and how far in advance claims can be made.
Claimants should decide the length of the claim period, and should consider how often they run their payroll, e.g. weekly/ monthly/ two-weekly etc. Different claimants will operate different payroll frequencies.
Claimants should not make more than one claim during a claim period – this will mean that they should include all employees they want to furlough for the claim period as they will not be able to submit another claim for the same period or one that overlaps. Claim periods should follow on from one another where employees are continuously furloughed, with no gaps in between.
Claims may be made prior to an imminent payroll run, at the point at which payroll is run or after the payroll has been run. Claim periods can be backdated from 1 March 2020 but only if employees have been furloughed from that date – the claim period must not start prior to the date that the first employee was furloughed, and grants may only be claimed for employees for the time they were furloughed.
The claim end date must be no more than 14 days in the future from the date the claim is made, and any claim period must contain all the furloughed days that the claim amount relates to.
Separate guidance – ‘Claim for wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme’ – has also been updated.
There is clarification that records must be kept for a minimum of six years, including the amount claimed and claim period for each employee, the claim reference number and any calculations, in case HMRC requires further information relating to any claims.
Missing National Insurance numbers
There is also confirmation that claimants can search for an employee’s National Insurance (NI) number if they do not have it, but alternatively they should contact HMRC if the employee does not have an NI number.
Extension to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
Both the employee and the employer guidance has been updated to reflect Rishi Sunak’s announcement on 12 May 2020 that the CJRS would be extended until the end of October 2020. The scheme will continue to pay grants of 80% of employee pay up to a cap of £2,500 per month until the end of July 2020, but from August 2020, there will be more flexibility and employers will be able to bring their workers back to work on a part-time basis. We await further guidance on this which should be available by the end of May 2020.
Furloughed employees and volunteering
There is also additional information relating to where employees carry out volunteer work which confirms that employees are allowed to take part in volunteer work, as long as it does not provide services to, or generate revenue for, or on behalf, of the business they are being furloughed in, or any associated organisation. Employers must not furlough employees and then request them to volunteer for them in the same or a different role.
Information within the employer guidance relating to employees that they can claim for has been moved to a new page – ‘Check which employees you can put on furlough to use the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme’.
Examples of how to perform calculations have also been moved to a new guide – ‘Find examples to help you work out 80% of your employees’ wages’
The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication. For all the latest information, news and resources on how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting payroll professions, visit our Coronavirus hub.