Read the latest updates on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (updated on 15 June)

Important information about the government’s latest guidance about the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) released on 12 June and how this impacts your organisation.

You can furlough staff from the day after the employee finishes work. The earliest date is 1 March 2020 and you can backdate to the date the employee finishes work and starts furlough leave. In other words, it is the date when the work stops, not when the decision is made, or when they are written to, confirming their furloughed status.

Previously, anyone on the payroll on 28 February could be furloughed (if eligible). The government extended this so that anyone for whom the employer made an RTI submission up to 19 March can now also be furloughed.

The last date on which an employee can be furloughed for the first time is 10 June 2020 (unless returning from family-related statutory leave) and the scheme is scheduled to close at the end of October.

For periods starting on or after 1 July, the maximum number of employees you can claim for in any period cannot be higher than the maximum number you have claimed for in a previous period. For example, if your highest single claim for periods up to 30 July was for 10 people, you can’t claim for more than this number in later periods. The maximum number can be increased to include newly furloughed employees returning from family-related statutory leave.

For periods starting on or after 1 July, the maximum number of employees you can claim for in any period cannot be higher than the maximum number you have claimed for in a previous period. For example, if your highest single claim for periods up to 30 July was for 10 people, you can’t claim for more than this number in later periods. The maximum number can be increased to include newly furloughed employees returning from family-related statutory leave.

However, you must pay your apprentices at least the Apprenticeship Minimum Wage (AMW), National Living Wage (NLW), or National Minimum Wage (NMW) as appropriate for all the time they spend training. Employers must cover any shortfall between the amount claimed for their wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and their appropriate minimum wage.

Guidance is available for changes in apprenticeship learning arrangements because of COVID-19.

Yes, if they were on your payroll and you have made an RTI submission to HMRC notifying a payment in respect of the employee on or before 19 March 2020. If you want to furlough someone after 1 July, you will need to have previously submitted a claim for them in relation to a furlough period of at least three consecutive weeks taking place any time between 1 March and 30 June 2020. Q18 explains how their wages are calculated.

Q4. Can you furlough people who are already on SSP?
If an employee is on sick leave or self-isolating as a result of Coronavirus, your normal policy should be applied (in other words, SSP or contractual sick pay). Furloughing is not intended for short-term absences from work due to sickness.

Employees off for longer periods of sick leave, shielding, caring for a shielding dependent, or who need to stay home due to an individual in their household who is shielding, can be furloughed for business reasons. This means they receive their ‘furlough salary’ and not SSP if they agree to be furloughed. If you want to furlough someone after 1 July,  you will need to have previously submitted a claim for them in relation to a furlough period of at least three consecutive weeks taking place any time between 1 March and 30 June 2020.

Q5a. What happens if an employee becomes sick while furloughed?
Furloughed employees who become ill must be paid at least Statutory Sick Pay. It is up to employers to decide whether to move these employees onto SSP or to keep them on furlough, at their furloughed rate.

An employee may become ill while furloughed at 80% of salary and become entitled to full pay under an employer’s enhanced sick pay. An employee on furlough will have agreed to remain furloughed for a minimum of three weeks. As such, they would receive 80% of their salary for this time. If they remain sick after these three weeks, they could request to end their furlough and be placed on sick leave. 

You should ask them to work from home if this is at all possible and they remain fit to do so. If they cannot work from home and are not sick, they are entitled to SSP from day one. If the employee becomes unwell during self-isolation they would become entitled to any contractual sick pay in line with your normal policies. It is unclear whether the payment of SSP would trigger any contractual sick pay.

You should ask them to work from home if this is at all possible and they remain fit to do so. If they cannot work from home you can ask them to be furloughed if you have previously submitted a claim for them in relation to a furlough period of at least three consecutive weeks taking place any time between 1 March and 30 June 2020.

Q6. Can you furlough a member of staff who is on maternity leave? 
No. An employee on maternity leave should continue their leave and pay in accordance with your policies.

You will be able to claim, through the scheme, for enhanced (earnings-related) contractual pay for employees who qualify for either:

  • maternity pay
  • adoption pay
  • paternity pay
  • shared parental pay.

Q7a. Can an employee end their maternity leave to become furloughed?
If the employee ends maternity leave and returns to work, you will be able to furlough her. Once back from maternity leave, she will not be able to return to maternity leave after the furlough period and the employee will be expected to return to work.

For employees in receipt of maternity allowance who want to end their maternity leave early to be put on furlough, they will need to give you at least eight weeks’ notice and they will not be eligible for furlough pay until the end of the eight weeks.

Women returning from maternity leave after 28 February should have their furlough salary calculated against their salary, before tax, and not the pay they received while on statutory leave.

If your employee was on furlough and during any part of the relevant eight-week period, there are different rules about how you work out their average weekly earnings (AWE). This is to ensure SMP payments are not adversely affected if their wages were reduced because of being furloughed.

The earnings used to work out their AWE for the part of the eight-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.

Yes, those returning from statutory leave should have their furlough salary calculated against their salary, before tax, and not the pay they received while on statutory leave.

Q9. Can an employee be furloughed because of caring responsibilities?
Yes. Employees who are unable to work because they have caring responsibilities resulting from coronavirus (COVID-19) can be furloughed provided you have previously submitted a claim for them in relation to a furlough period of at least three consecutive weeks taking place any time between 1 March and 30 June 2020. For example, employees that need to look after children can be furloughed (confirmed in the 4 April update).

Employees who are shielding, caring for a shielding dependent or who need to stay home due to an individual in their household shielding, can also be furloughed provided they have previously been furloughed.

Q10. Can those TUPE transferred after 28 February be furloughed?
Yes. A new employer is eligible to claim under the Job Retention Scheme in respect of the employees of a previous business transferred after 28 February 2020 if either the TUPE or PAYE business succession rules apply to the change in ownership.

Staff transferred after 10 June can also be furloughed by the new employer provided that the previous employer has previously submitted a claim for them in relation to a furlough period of at least three consecutive weeks taking place any time between 1 March and 30 June 2020.

Q11. Can you extend a fixed-term contract during furlough leave?
Yes. Employees on fixed-term contracts can have their contracts renewed or extended during the furlough period without breaking the terms of the scheme.

Where a fixed-term employee’s contract ends because it is not extended or renewed, the employer will no longer be able to claim the grant for them.

Q12. I’ve heard that I can take people back and furlough them, even though I have already made them redundant. Is that correct?
If you made employees redundant or they stopped working for you on or before 19 March, you can re-employ them if they were employed by you on or after 28 February, put them on furlough before 10 June and claim for their wages through the scheme. Employees will continue to accrue holiday pay.

If you re-employ someone you can do so with a break in service.

If an employee has had multiple employers over the past year, has only worked for one of them at any one time, and is being furloughed by their current employer, their former employer/s should not re-employ them, put them on furlough and claim for their wages through the scheme.

For any employer that takes on a new employee, the new employer should ensure they complete the starter checklist form correctly. If the employee is furloughed from another employment, they should complete Statement C (updated 29 May 2020).

If the workload decreases, employers should identify those jobs affected and discuss furloughing with their staff as an alternative to redundancy. You will need to explain what furloughing means and your employees need to consent to be furloughed.

If they agree to become furloughed, it is important that you confirm this in writing and that you keep a record of the letter (while preferable, the employee does not have to provide a written response). The letter must confirm the written agreement that the employee will cease all work. The written record must be retained for five years.

If an employee does not consent, you may need to consult over potential redundancy. If 20 or more employees are then at risk of redundancy, collective consultation would be required.

If the employee’s contract has a ‘guarantee pay’ clause, then you need to factor this in as an option.

Yes. Staff must be furloughed for at least three weeks until 30 June. They can then be ‘un-furloughed’ for a period of time and then you can put them back on furlough leave, again for a minimum of three weeks. From 1 July there is no minimum period, although any claim through the CJRS portal must be in respect of a minimum one-week period.

Until 1 July, you cannot furlough an employee who continues to work for you. However, they can undertake training and do volunteer work, provided they do not provide services to or make any money for your organisation. It therefore follows that an employee you have furloughed cannot volunteer for you.

A furloughed employee can continue to work in a second job where they have not been furloughed and can even find other work if their contract allows for this.

From 1 July you can bring back to work furloughed employees for any amount of time and any work pattern, while still being able to claim the CJRS grant for the hours not worked. This is known as 'flexible furlough'.

Yes, subject to any contractual restrictions. The government update of 4 April confirmed that employees can be furloughed by an employer and then undertake paid or voluntary work for a different employer.

Until the end of July, employers can reclaim up to 80% of wage costs up to a cap of £2,500 per month, plus (not including) the associated employer NICs and minimum auto-enrolment pension contributions on that wage.

Fees, commissions and bonuses are not included. Where there is a salary sacrifice arrangement in place, the employer must take the lower (post sacrificed) salary.

Any regular payments an employer is obliged to make can be included when calculating the claim. This includes the following contractual payments; wages, overtime, fees, and commission payments.

Any discretionary payments cannot be taken into account, such as bonus (including tips) commission and non-cash payments.

The employee will receive 80% of the salary, less tax, National Insurance (NI), and employee pension contributions.

Employers can top up the wages to 100% although they will only be able to reclaim 80% of wage costs, employers’ NI, and pension costs up to the cap.

From 1 August, employers will not be able to reclaim employers' NI or pension contributions. From 1 September, the CJRS rebate will be 70% of salary costs (capped at £2,190 per month) and employers will be required to make up the difference to 80% salary (or more if the furlough agreement is a higher percentage).

From 1 October, the CJRS will rebate 60% of salary (capped at £1,875 per month) and employers will be required to top-up to 80% (or more if relevant).

If the employee has been employed for a full 12 months prior to the claim, employers can claim for the higher of either:

  • the same month’s earning from the previous year
  • average monthly earnings from the 2019–2020 tax year.

If the employee has been employed for less than a year, you can claim for 80% of the average of their monthly earnings since they started work.

If the employee only started in February 2020, use a pro rata calculation for their earnings so far to claim.

Claims can be made via an online portal from 20 April 2020.

Until the end of June, you can only submit one claim at least every three weeks, which is the minimum length for which an employee can be furloughed. Claims can be backdated until 1 March if applicable. Thereafter, claim periods starting on or after 1 July must start and end within the same calendar month.

If an employer tops up to 100% pay, the additional NI and pension costs above the 80% cannot be reclaimed.

The government has issued a helpful guide on how to claim, including the information you will need to make a claim.

Yes. The contract continues and a furloughed worker continues to accrue holiday entitlement during the period.

An employee on holiday or who has a scheduled bank holiday while on furlough, is still entitled to receive this holiday on full pay. Employers must ensure that any employee on holiday or bank holiday is paid their full salary for that period of holiday.

The government announced it will allow workers to carry over statutory holiday entitlement into the next two leave years, where it is not reasonably practicable for them to take some or all of the holiday they are entitled to due to the coronavirus. See the government announcement.

The government has stated that it will continue to keep the policy on holiday pay during furlough under review.

Government guidance on the CJRS does not comment on whether employers are able to compel employees to take their holiday entitlement during furlough.

Employers can require employees to take annual leave by giving the employee notice equal to twice the number of days the employer requires the employee to take. If the employer requires the employee to take accrued holiday during furlough, this must be paid at 100% of salary. The employee should be notified with the appropriate notice that they are required to use their entitlement, ideally within the furlough confirmation letter.

The government has announced accrued holiday entitlement can be carried over for two years and has stated that it will continue to keep the policy on holiday pay during furlough under review.

No. Individuals are only entitled to the minimum wage for the hours they work. If they are furloughed and 80% of their normal earnings would take them below the minimum wage based on their normal working hours, they still only receive 80% as they are not working. However, they are entitled to be paid NMW for any time spent training.

Apprentices must be paid at least the Apprenticeship Minimum Wage/National Living Wage/National Minimum Wage as appropriate for all the time spent training, even if this is more than 80% of normal wages.

No. Furloughed employees working as union or non-union representatives or as pension trustees may undertake duties and activities for the purpose of individual or collective representation of employees or other workers.