Furlough – The Job Retention Scheme – 4th Update of HMRC Guidance
On Wednesday 15th April HMRC published the fourth version of the Job Retention Scheme Guidance for Employers. The Treasury also issued a ‘Direction’ to HMRC, under the Coronavirus Act 2020, setting out the legal detail of the authority and instructions for HMRC making payments under the Scheme.
The main changes to the Guidance are:
Date the Furloughed Employee Must be on the Payroll
The previous guidance stated that the employee must have been on the employer’s payroll at 28th February for an employer to submit a claim for furlough pay through the scheme. However, this has now been amended, with the date changed to 19th March.
The intention is to bring more people within the scheme who had recently changed jobs. Employers still need to have included any newly appointed employees on a real time information (RTI) submission notifying a payment in respect of the employee made to HMRC on or before 19th March. Unfortunately, many employers only make this RTI submission at or near the point in the month when wages are paid (i.e. nearer to the end of the month), so there will still be a group of employees who remain excluded from the scheme.
Claiming for more than 100 employees
Employers with more than 100 furloughed staff will be required to upload a file with furlough claim information rather than inputting individual employee details direct into the system. The HMRC system will accept files in .xls, .xlsx, .csv and .ods formats.
All employers must retain all records and calculations in respect of the claims they make.
The Treasury Direction
To date we have only had the HMRC Guidance explaining how the Job Retention Scheme will operate. This new Treasury Direction sets out the legal position and is likely to be the definitive rules governing how the scheme will work. It might be amended and updated, but the fact it has been issued indicates that the government is nearing its final position on operation of the Scheme.
It contains the following important changes and clarifications
- Furloughed directors can only undertake work to fulfil a duty or other obligation arising from an Act of Parliament relating to the filing of the company’s accounts or provision of other information relating to the administration of the director’s company. This is a very narrow interpretation of a director’s duties and company directors need to carefully consider their position and the tasks that they will undertake if they are claiming furlough pay.
- The employer and employee must have agreed in writing that the employee will cease all work. Previously the HMRC guidance stated that employers only needed to have notified employees that they were on furlough. It is now clear that in order for a valid claim to be made, there must be a written agreement that confirms no work will be undertaken. Employers who do not have such clear written agreements in place are advised to urgently review their position, or run the risk of employees who have been furloughed falling outside the scheme.
We will keep you updated should any further guidance be released in the run up to the scheme opening. If you need support on implementing the scheme within your business, or have questions around tricky areas, please contact either Nick Jones or Cecily Donoghue. Call 0117 906 9400 or email email@example.com