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Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – what’s new?

21st January 2021

With 2021 beginning with a new national lockdown, many employers will be forced to fall back on and utilise the Government grants available in order to protect both their businesses and the employment of their employees during this difficult time.  Perhaps the most significant of these are furlough rules, underpinned by the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).

How has the CJRS changed for this new lockdown?  In many ways the scheme has returned to being more akin to that which was announced in March 2020, and certain features will remain the same. For example:

  • It can be used to protect similar categories of workers and employees as before;
  • Employees can be re-engaged if made redundant to take the benefit of the scheme (but employers should check the criteria carefully);
  • It is capped at the rate of 80% of a persons wages, up to a maximum of £2,500 per calendar month;
  • Employees need not to have been furloughed previously;
  • Employees should have expressly agreed to the furlough and any associated reduction in wages, and that should be recorded in writing.

However, there are some differences worth noting, which include:

  • The Employer must still pay Employer National Insurance and Pension Contributions;
  • The rules do not require a minimum period of claim (i.e. 3 consecutive weeks), and the new rules envisage a daily claimable sum (i.e. in the same way as the flexible furlough could be used);
  • Employers cannot use the CJRS scheme in respect of any period of notice given on or after 1 December 2020 and this will now be a cost of the Employer (as it would be in any other circumstances);
  • Claims for CJRS by employers will now be public information and details available and published;
  • Individuals must have been employed/engaged, and real time PAYE reporting made, on or before 30 October 2020;
  • There is a note that furlough should not be used to cover short term sickness or other absence and it is distinct from them and any payment mutually exclusive, but that is not to say that employees who are otherwise shielding etc. cannot be placed on furlough, and the employer retains the discretion;
  • New claim deadlines have been established, and can be viewed here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/947842/Coronavirus_Job_Retention_Scheme_-_key_dates.pdf

If you would like to discuss any concerns regarding the Employment Law implications of the Furlough/CJRS, the impact of Coronavirus, the National Lockdown in England and Wales, or generally, please speak to Jason Alcock an experienced employment law solicitor in our Dispute Resolution Team, on 01543 267 196 or email him at jalcock@ansonssolicitors.com

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