On 1st July 2020, the government's €˜flexible furlough scheme' officially started. For many who have been trying to keep up with the various iterations of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) since its introduction, there is likely to be considerable confusion over this new version of the scheme. In this article, we will explain the changes introduced in this new extension to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (JRS), how these will work, and the real-world implications.
The latest variant of the JRS is designed to allow employers to continue furloughing employees on a full or part-time basis, while they remain furloughed for the remainder of their contracted hours. This means that the hours being worked will be paid by the employer in full, but the furloughed hours will be covered jointly by the scheme and the employer. While this seems fairly simple in principle, the practicalities and nuances of the scheme will be inevitably more complex. The main features of flexible JRS are as follows:
From 1st August 2020, the amount of JRS grant will reduce each month, which will effectively gradually wean employers from reliance on the scheme and, hence, reduce the burden on the public. At this point, the government will fund 80 percent of wages up to £2,500 for the hours an employee is on furlough, but employers must then pay any national insurance (NICs) and pension contributions (previously under the scheme, pensions and NICs were paid for by the government.
From 1st September 2020, the government's contribution to furloughed hours will drop from 80 percent to 70 percent, and the cap will drop correspondingly from £2,500 to £2,187.50. In addition to paying for NICs and pension contributions, employers will also need to make sure that employees receive 80 percent of their wages up to a maximum of £2,500 while they are furloughed; this means employers will pay a contribution of up to £312.50.
And from 1st October 2020, there is a further reduction with the government paying 60 percent of wages up to a maximum of £1,875 for furloughed hours. Employers will continue to pay NICs and pension contributions and top up employees' wages to 80 percent of their wages (capped at £2,500) while they are furloughed (which equates to an employer contribution of up to £625).
The full rules for calculating how much can be claimed can be found on the government website here, and the JRS calculator can be found here . The key points to bear in mind when working out how much can be claimed are as follows:
There is no doubt that the new flexible JRS is more complex than it was previously, but this is an inevitable consequence of adding flexibility. The government is clearly very keen to keep as many people in employment as possible, even if this means on a part-time furloughed basis. It is recommended that all employers keep a full complement of records from the start of their use of the JRS until the day it is no longer used. This will mean that any potential questions or enquiries from HMRC can be quickly responded to. As ever, when it comes to tax and the law, it pays to be extremely cautious and diligent. For more in-depth insights on the revised JRS, talk to experienced immigration solicitors.
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