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FAQs: Advice for Employers on the Extended Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended until 31 March 2021. Our expert Employment Law solicitors explain what this means for employers. For Frequently Asked Questions about the original Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, click here.

    1. Which workers does the Extended Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (ECJRS) apply to?
    2. What support is the government offering businesses under the ECJRS?
    3. When will we receive the first payment under the ECJRS?
    4. How often can I put in a claim under the ECJRS for a furloughed employee’s wages?
    5. I recently made a member of staff redundant– can I reinstate them and put them on furlough instead?
    6. How long will the ECJRS run for?
    7. Can I make my employees redundant so they serve their notice period while on furlough?
    8. Can I still claim for the Job Retention Bonus?
    9. Who will know that my company is using the ECJRS?
    10. Do I need to issue new letters / agreements to my employees for the extended furlough scheme?
    11. Is there a maximum number of employees we can claim for under the scheme?
    12. As the Furlough Scheme is being phased out from 31 March 2021, what else can I do to protect my business as my revenue streams have dropped?

Which workers does the Extended Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (ECJRS) apply to?

The new extended Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme applies to workers and employees who were on payroll by 30 October 2020.
If they were dismissed or their employment ended after 23 September 2020 they can be reinstated to claim this furlough grant.

What support is the government offering businesses under the ECJRS?

The scheme was due to end on 31 October but was extended so that the level of the grant was the same as in August. Flexible working is allowed. For the hours the Employee does not work employers only have to make NI and pension contributions. The government will review the scheme in January 2021 and the grant is likely to be reduced for February and March.

When will we receive the first payment under the ECJRS?

Under the extended scheme, the first claims can be made from 8am on Wednesday 11 November 2020, and payments are anticipated 6 working days after the first claims.

How often can I put in a claim under the ECJRS for a furloughed employee’s wages?

The new extended scheme from 1 November merely requires that you need to claim for a minimum of 7 calendar days and employees must have been on payroll on 30 October 2020. If they are dismissed or have left after the 23 September then they can be reinstated to claim this furlough grant.

I recently made a member of staff redundant– can I reinstate them and put them on furlough instead?

Yes, as long as they were on payroll on 23 September 2020.

How long will the ECJRS run for?

The new extended furlough scheme will now run until 31 March 2021.

Can I make my employees redundant so they serve their notice period while on furlough?

This is not possible any longer. The new guidance states that for the period 1 November – 1 December 2020, claims may be made if the employee is serving statutory notice only. So if your employee has 3 months contractual notice but has only worked for you for 4 years, then only 4 weeks can be subsidised by the furlough grant.

For any period you claim on or after 1 December you cannot claim for any period your employee is serving either statutory or contractual notice. This includes people serving notice of retirement or resigning.

Can I still claim for the Job Retention Bonus?

No, this has been withdrawn. It is not clear whether or not it will be reintroduced.

Who will know that my company is using the ECJRS?

For claim periods in December 2020 and January 2021 HMRC will publish the name of each employer using the scheme and a reasonable indication of the amount claimed.

Do I need to issue new letters / agreements to my employees for the extended furlough scheme?

We recommend issuing an agreement or letter setting out the terms of the extended or new furlough arrangements. Although the employee does not have to confirm their acceptance, it is a good idea to obtain this in writing. This will help all parties understand the new arrangements and reduces the risk of claims at a later date.

Is there a maximum number of employees we can claim for under the scheme?

No, from 1 November onwards there is no maximum number of employees that you can claim for under the scheme. The previous limit which had applied from 1 July until 31 October has been removed.

As the Furlough Scheme is being phased out from 31 March 2021, what else can I do to protect my business as my revenue streams have dropped?

If it is clear that you are going to have to restructure your business and or make provision for the phasing out and end of the furlough scheme then alternatives include:

Salary sacrifice where everyone gives up a percentage of their salary for a defined period. This can be offered as an alternative to redundancies and there must to be the employee’s agreement to this.

Part time working

Again, this can be offered as an alternative to redundancy and you need the employees agreement to this.

Redundancy / restructuring

Many employers are already gearing up to restructure their business so that the people they are making redundant can be served notice while they are still on full 80% furlough pay.

We would recommend that any notice is paid at ‘normal renumeration’ if not topping up the 80%. This is unless the employee agrees to accept the furlough pay instead of their notice pay. The redundancy process must be fair and include a fair selection process. Accrued holiday will also need to be paid.

For expert advice on furlough leave and the Extended Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, contact our Employment Law team on 01273 609911, or email info@ms-solicitors.co.uk.

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