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Covid-19 & Job Retention Scheme: the portal is now open & new guidance updates

The Job Retention Scheme went live this morning as promised and there has been some important changes and updates since our last articles on this subject.

9 April 2020 JRC updated guidance

24 March 2020 JRS original guidance

So, what has changed?

  • The Scheme is now open and Employers must claim through the online portal (accessible on the Gov website) in order to receive the grant.
  • The Scheme has been extended from 31 May 2020 to the end of June 2020.
  • Employees that were on payroll on or before 19 March 2020 can now be furloughed (it was 28 February 2020). The government have changed it to this date as this was the day before the scheme was announced which will hopefully reduce fraudulent claims.
  • CLARITY on TUPE. The guidance has confirmed that a new employer is eligible to claim under the scheme in respect of the employees of a previous business who transferred after 19 March 2020 if either the TUPE or PAYE business succession rules apply to the change in ownership.
  • ANNUAL LEAVE. The Employee’s Guidance now states that it is possible to take annual leave while on furlough, but the employer will have to ‘top up’ to 100% of normal pay. If an employee would usually take bank holidays as leave, then the Employer should either top up the holiday pay in this period or allow this as holiday in lieu.
  • There has now been a Treasury Direction issued to HMRC which contains authority and instructions to HMRC for making payments. The Direction states that to claim furlough, the employer and employee must have agreed in writing that the employee will cease all work. This is slightly different to the guidance which merely refers to an agreement in writing confirming that the employee has been furloughed.
  • The Direction also gives a very narrow interpretation for what Company Directors can do when furloughed compared to the guidance. It states they can only undertake work to fulfil a duty or other obligation arising from an Act of Parliament relating to the filing of company’s accounts or provision of other information relating to the administration of the director’s company. We have written some guidance on what we do know – read more here

There is a lot to think about and do to ensure you are taking advantage of the scheme in the right way. HMRC will have the power to investigate fraudulent claims so its important to obtain advice.

If you require assistance from anyone in our Employment or Commercial team to assist you in any way, please do not hesitate to contact us on 01623468468 or use the enquiry form below.

Here is a link to the Job Retention Scheme portal 

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