Furlough Leave Extended Until 31st March 2021

Further to the announcement of a second national lockdown in England, the Government have extended the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) – aka furlough scheme – until 31st March 2021.

The furlough scheme will continue to be flexible and furloughed employees will receive 80% of their salary for hours not worked (up to a maximum of £2,500), with employers paying for national insurance and employer pension contributions.

Key points;

  • Extended until 31st March 2021, with a review in January 2021 on the level of support provided.
  • Open to all UK businesses and employers, whether the business is open or closed due to local or national restrictions.
  • There is no maximum number of employees that employers can claim for under the extended furlough scheme, previously employers could only claim for the same number they had claimed furlough for prior to June 2020.
  • Employees do not need to have previously been furloughed.
  • Employees returning from maternity leave must give the statutory eight weeks’ notice to end their leave early in order for them to be furloughed. Previously it was agreed this notice period could be shortened if agreed between the employee and employer.
  • Employees must have been employed and on the employer’s PAYE payroll on 30th October 2020.
  • Employees who have been made redundant and were employed and on the payroll on 23rd September 2020 can be re-employed and put onto furlough leave.
  • Employers must have written consent from employees to be furloughed.
  • Employees will receive 80% of their usual salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.
  • Employers will need to cover National Insurance and employer pension contributions.
  • Employers have flexibility to use the scheme for furloughing employees for any amount of time as necessary.
  • Employees can also be furloughed if they are unable to work because they:
    • are shielding in line with public health guidance (or need to stay at home with someone who is shielding); or
    • have caring responsibilities resulting from coronavirus, including employees that need to look after children.
  • Employers will be able to claim either shortly before, during or after running their payroll. Claims can be made from Wednesday 11th November 2020.
  • The Job Retention Bonus (JRB) will not be paid in February 2021. The government will redeploy the retention incentive at the appropriate time.
  • The Job Support Scheme (JSS), which was due to start on 1st November, has been postponed and will not start until the CJRS has closed.

Working from home tax relief for employees

In light of the national restrictions in response to Coronavirus, and the increase in the number of employees working from home, since April 2020, employers have been able to pay employees up to £6 per week tax-free, to cover additional costs of working from home, e.g. household bills.

Employees who have not received the working from home expense payment from their employer can apply to receive the tax relief from HMRC.

HMRC launched an online portal on 1st October 2020, to process tax relief claims. HMRC is encouraging taxpayers claiming tax relief for working from home to apply directly on the website – https://www.gov.uk/tax-relief-for-employees/working-at-home

If you would like further guidance or support on this matter or require advice on other people management matters please contact Clover HR on 0121 516 0299 or email us at info@cloverhr.co.uk

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