Those who have been following developments in relation to the operation of the Job Retention Scheme will have noticed that there have been several updates in the last few days in the following areas.
Accessing JRS funds
Employers will be comforted to hear that HMRC have said that the scheme will be up and running ahead of schedule and well before the end of the month. HMRC set out the timeframe for JRS applications when it appeared before a Parliamentary Committee last week.
The scheme will be open for employers to use from 20 April and first payments are expected to be issued on 30 April and they expect to be able to turn around claims within 4-6 days. This is both sooner and with a faster turn-around period than many anticipated.
The other noteworthy point is that employers will be able to lodge claims 14 days in advance of their pay date. Only one claim per pay period may be presented but claims can be made weekly or monthly depending on the pay arrangements.
An operational guidance document is expected this week. We will update you as soon as this is available as it will be important for employers to ensure that their claims are not delayed because of submission errors.
Perhaps unsurprisingly there will be a “hotline” for employees to report employers who breach rules (e.g. requiring employees to do a bit of work whilst on furlough leave) and claims will then not be processed.
Duration of the JRS
Further information is also eagerly awaited about whether the JRS will be extended beyond 31 May 2020. The CBI and the TUC have relayed the critical importance of confirmation on this point to the Treasury for the many employers who may be contemplating making 100 or more redundancies as soon as the JRS expires. In such circumstances, employers will need to start a collective redundancy consultation period on or before18th April if they are to complete a 45 day consultation period by 1 June 2020. Those contemplating fewer redundancies do not face quite the same time pressure, although they would need not commence collective consultation on 1 May at the latest.
Updated Government Guidance has confirmed that employers can include in the JRS any employee who transferred to them under TUPE after 28 February 2020.
Nothing further has been clarified, officially, regarding whether there is an obligation to top up salary to full pay for periods of holiday taken during furlough leave. Informal indications from HMRC intimate that employees are expected to top up furlough pay to full pay in relation to holiday taken during furlough. This remains a key issue for employers as they will be running the April payroll very soon and absolute clarity is needed.
The Employment Team at Geldards will keep you abreast of any updated guidance. In the meantime, should you have any queries regarding this update, or any other employment related matters do not hesitate to contact us.