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COVID19: URGENT update Job Retention Scheme qualifying date has changed

Change to qualifying start date for employees – The government have given further guidance on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (JRS). The qualifying date, when the employee has to have been on the employer’s payroll, has changed from 28th February to 19th March 2020.

This enables a large number of people who fell outside the scheme because they had recently changed jobs to now be furloughed.  The 19th March date is just before the Chancellor announced details of the furlough scheme. However employees must have been notified to HMRC through an RTI [Real Time Information] submission notifying payment in respect of that employee on or before 19th March 2020.

Many new starters would not have been reported to HMRC through an RTI submission until the end of the month of March, which is when payroll is generally run. So although this change may assist some new starters i.e. workers that are paid weekly, it will not bridge the gap for all new employees to be covered by the scheme.

Can an employee who is currently off sick be furloughed?

In previous guidance it was stated that employees on sick leave or self-isolating would get statutory sick pay (SSP) and could only be furloughed once they were no longer receiving SSP.

Now, the government have confirmed  that it is possible to furlough employees who are currently off sick (including those on long term absence). This is a decision for each business and is not a right for the employee. If an employer decides to furlough an employee who is already on sick leave, SSP will stop and the employee should be treated as furloughed.

What if an employee falls ill while being furloughed?

If a furloughed employee becomes ill while being furloughed the employer can decide to either keep the employee furloughed or place them on to SSP.  However, employers should ensure that this is at least equivalent to the rate of SSP, since furloughed employees retain their statutory right to be paid that amount when sick.

Where employees are entitled to contractual sick pay at their full rate, the employer will be responsible for any top up the pay over the  80% cap to make up the salary to the full amount. This may not seem like an attractive proposition for the employer.

Can an employee who is on a visa be furloughed?

Yes all categories of visa can also be furloughed.

Can I furlough staff returning from statutory leave such as maternity, paternity, shared parental leave, sick leave?

Yes, but you must pay them in accordance with their normal pay not the statutory amount they had been on.

What information will I need to supply to make a claim?

To claim, you will need:

  • Employer PAYE reference number
  • The number of employees being furloughed
  • National Insurance Numbers for the furloughed employees
  • Names of the furloughed employees
  • Payroll/employee number for the furloughed employees (optional)
  • The company Unique Taxpayer Reference or Company Registration Number
  • The claim period (start and end date)
  • Amount claimed (per the minimum length of furloughing of 3 consecutive weeks)
  • Your bank account number and sort code
  • Your contact name
  • Your phone number

You will need to draft the calculations for the amount you are claiming. HMRC will retain the right to retrospectively audit all aspects of your claim.

If you have fewer than 100 furloughed staff you will be asked to enter details of each employee you are claiming for directly into the system – this will include their name, National Insurance number, claim period and claim amount, and payroll/employee number (optional).

If you have 100 or more furloughed staff you will be asked to upload a file with the information rather than input it directly into the system.

The file should include the following information for each furloughed employee: name, National Insurance number, claim period and claim amount, payroll/employee number (optional).

Holiday position and furloughing

At the time of publishing we are still waiting for information on holiday position and furloughing.

Team HB would like to thank Iain Lock who is a Director at Q&A HR, for providing details for our summary above. Iain can be contacted directly on 01920 463777 or be email

We hope this information helps you and we are here for you during this difficult time. We will continue to keep you updated as the Government releases new information. Our business contingency plan is in place and we will do everything we can to support our clients during this uncertain period, please do not hesitate to contact us here if you have any concerns or queries.

Visit our COVID19 Business Hub for more information

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The information contained above is for general guidance purposes only. Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the contents are accurate, please note that each individual has different circumstances and it is essential that you seek appropriate professional advice before you act on any of the information contained herein. HB Accountants can accept no liability for any errors or omission or for any person acting on or refraining from acting on the information provided in the above

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