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In true form, the Government waited until 5pm on a Friday to confirm the details of the extension to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)!

The CJRS was introduced in March 2020 to provide for payments to employers in respect of incurred costs of employment for furloughed employees arising from the Coronavirus outbreak in the UK.

Employers can claim up to 80% of an employees’ wages up to a max of £2,500 per month per employee as long as the employee was on PAYE on 19th March 2020.

Each period of furlough must be for a minimum of three weeks.  Employees can come off furlough, work (for any period of time) and go back on furlough (for a minimum three weeks).

The scheme was originally in place until the end of June 2020, now extended in its current state until the end of July 2020.

From 1 August 2020, the scheme will be extended until October:

Employer contributions:

  • In June and July the scheme will remain as it is
  • In August the grant will stay at 80% of pay up to £2500 and employers will be asked to pay National Insurance (NI) and employer pension contributions
  • September- 70% grant up to £2,190 with employers expected to contribute 10%
  • October – 60% grant up to £1,875 with employers contributing 20%
  • Scheme will close after this at the end of October
  • Employees will continue to receive 80% of pay

New Flexible Furlough:

  • For employers to decide how they bring their employees back
  • From July 1st employers can decide on arrangements for them and furloughed staff, employees can be brought back part time e.g. work for 2 days a week to be paid as normal (100% pay) and furlough scheme covers other three working days (for those on 5-day working week)
  • This new flexible scheme will close to new entrants on June 30th
  • Apply for scheme by June 10th (i.e. three weeks before)

Self-employed:

  • Self-employment income scheme to be extended, opening in August. Working in same way as first one offering 70% of average monthly trading profits to be paid out in a single instalment cover three months’ worth of trading profits up to £6,570.
  • No further changes or extensions to scheme.

Many of you have managed to continue to work, in some form or another since lockdown began. The rules are now being relaxed, as I am sure you are aware, and some of you are making plans to make a return to work.  I have already updated you on the health and safety considerations, including carrying out risk assessments but please do drop me a line if you need further guidance.

I would suggest any changes e.g. bringing back from furlough, extending furlough past the date you originally agreed, using ‘flexible furlough’ etc, should be confirmed in writing to your employees. I would also suggest that this letter includes a statement that you may have to place them on furlough leave again should matters change.  Please do let me know if you need support with this.

Self-isolating

I wanted to touch on this to cover a couple of FAQs.

If you are identified under the track and trace scheme, you will be told to self-isolate for 14 days from last contact with the person (who identified you).  Members of the household need not self-isolate with you if you do not have symptoms, but should take extra precautions and follow social distancing guidelines etc. If you do develop symptoms, family members should also self-isolate for 14 days.  Tests should be requested from the NHS. If positive, continue to self-isolate for at least 7 days.  If the test is negative, complete the 14-day isolation period.

If an employee is self-isolating due to the above, they will be eligible for SSP from 1 day, which you may be able to reclaim.

It has been confirmed that those travelling to the UK will be required to self-isolate for 14 days.  If one of your employees takes a trip or holiday outside of the country, they are likely to need to self-isolate on return.  If they cannot work from home, they will need to take time off work and will be entitled to SSP (as they are self-isolating – see above).  My advice would be to make it clear to your employees what action you will take should they take a holiday or trip knowing that they will have to self-isolate on their return, and therefore take time off work. The key here is to communicate rather than come down hard – talk to individuals about their plans and reasons for them before taking any kind of action.  Give me a call if you need to talk specific situations through.

There are exceptions to this, e.g. road haulage workers, outlined here.

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