Details of changes to the Furloughing Scheme were announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak last Friday and subsequently detailed in guidance from HMRC which is shown below.
Rather than a sudden cut-off which might have led to fast rise in unemployment, Sunak has gone for a phased approach that will see employers making more of a contribution as the months go by from August but able to bring furloughed workers back in, part-time, from July.
Whilst it is hoped that the economy will be functioning by August when the first changes to the scheme begin, even this approach may not necessarily avoid a leap in people permanently losing their jobs.
The Office for National Statistics said this week that 58% of firms that had paused trading during the Covid crisis had cash reserves of less than six months. 7% had no reserves at all.
It is likely that firms which were operating on wafer-thin margins even before Covid-19 will find it all the harder to make money in the ‘new normal’ and with social distancing rules in place.
Even having to make the 5% contribution from August could be enough to tip some over the edge.
The HMRC guidance is as follows:
From 1 July 2020, you’ll have the flexibility to bring previously furloughed employees back to work part-time – with the government continuing to pay 80% of wages for any of their normal hours they do not work up until the end of August.
This flexibility comes a month earlier than previously announced to help people get back to work.
You can decide the hours and shift patterns that your employees will work on their return and you will be responsible for paying their wages in full while working.
This means that employees can work as much or as little as your business needs, with no minimum time that you can furlough staff for.
Any working hours arrangement that you agree with your employee must cover at least one week and be confirmed to the employee in writing.
When claiming the CJRS grant for furloughed hours, you will need to report and claim for a minimum period of a week.
You can choose to make claims for longer periods such as on monthly or two weekly cycles if you prefer.
You will be required to submit data on the usual hours an employee would be expected to work in a claim period and actual hours worked.
If your employees are unable to return to work, or you do not have work for them to do, they can remain on furlough and you can continue to claim the grant for their full hours under the existing rules.
From August, the government grant provided through the job retention scheme will be slowly tapered.
In June and July, the government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 as well as employer National Insurance (ER NICs) and pension contributions for the hours the employee doesn’t work – employers will have to pay employees for the hours they work.
In August, the government will continue to pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 but employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions – for the average claim, this represents 5% of the gross employment costs that they would have incurred if the employee had not been furloughed.
In September, the government will pay 70% of wages up to a cap of £2,187.50 for the hours the employee does not work – employers will pay ER NICs, pension contributions and 10% of wages to make up 80% of the total up to a cap of £2,500.
In October, the government will pay 60% of wages up to a cap of £1,875 for the hours the employee does not work – employers will pay ER NICs, pension contributions and 20% of wages to make up 80% of the total up to a cap of £2,500.
The cap on the furlough grant will be proportional to the hours not worked.
If you are a smaller employer, some or all of your employer NIC bills will be covered by the Employment Allowance, so you should not be significantly impacted by that part of the tapering of the government contribution.
Around a quarter of CJRS monthly claims relate to wages that are below the threshold where employer NICs and auto enrolment contributions are due, and so no employer contribution will be required for these furloughed employees in August.
It’s important to note that the scheme will close to new entrants from 30 June.
From this point onwards, you will only be able to furlough employees that you have furloughed for a full three-week period prior to 30 June.
This means that the final date that you can furlough an employee for the first time will be 10 June for the current three-week furlough period to be completed by 30 June.
Employers will have until 31 July to make any claims in respect of the period to 30 June.