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    Changes to the furlough scheme, when to claim payments and when it will end

    The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended until April 2021, but important changes to the rules will affect how and when businesses can claim furlough payments, writes Hamers Partner Lynsey Howes.

    The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme allows employees on company payrolls to receive 80% of their salary for hours not worked, with employers claiming the money back from the Government. After several extensions, the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has announced that the end date of furlough will be April 30 2021.

    However, employers should be aware of recent changes to the rules surrounding the time limits for claiming furlough, as well as payments for employees serving notice, and the Job Retention Bonus.

    At Hamers, our friendly team can offer expert advice on all aspects of employment law and HR affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. We explain everything in plain terms – without the legal jargon.

    The latest changes to the furlough scheme include:

    Furlough payments for an employee serving notice: From December 1 2020, an employer can no longer claim furlough payment for an employee who is serving notice. An employer will now be responsible for payment of both statutory and contractual notice for the employee.

    Furlough job retention bonus: Following the extension to furlough, the Treasury has withdrawn the Job Retention Bonus – a one-off payment to employers of £1,000 per employee retained until January 31. It is yet to be confirmed whether this is a temporary measure or if the bonus is gone for good.

    Publication of Furlough claims: HMRC will now publish information about the furlough claims made by an employer, including an indication of the amount claimed. With some very limited exceptions, a business must accept this as a condition of applying for payments.

    Setting up a Furlough agreement: Under the new system, employers must have a valid furlough agreement in place with the employee prior to making a claim.

    Time limits for claiming Furlough payments: Employers will now have to submit furlough claims within strict time limits for each period:

    • For furlough days in November 2020 – by December 14 2020
    • For furlough days in December 2020 – by January 14 2021
    • For furlough days in January 2021 – by February 15 2021
    • For furlough days in February 2021 – by March 15 2021
    • For furlough days in March 2021 – by April 14 2021

    Late claims will only be considered in very limited circumstances, including the business being affected by fire, flood or a serious health issue; a computer failure, or an error on behalf of HMRC.

    The Government has said it will review the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme in January 2021.

    At Hamers, we can take away the risk and complexity of HR and employment issues. Our team offers the best advice on grievances, disciplinaries, disputes, flexible working requests, restructures, redundancies, employee documentation, and any other HR issue that may arise. We can prepare you for the worst and protect you when you need it.

    Lynsey Howes is a Partner and Head of Department, Employment and HR, at Hamers Solicitors.

    Date

    18 December, 2020

    Author

    Lynsey Howes

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