Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme - Latest
There are a significant number of updates to HMRC’s CJRS Guidance. All employers will need to understand their impact. The important details for employers can be found on the government and HMRC websites, full details need to be understood.
A summary of some of the key points to be aware of include:
HMRC will check CJRS claims: it is “the claimant’s responsibility to ensure that the information provided in the application is accurate”. Moreover, HMRC state expressly that “payments may be withheld or need to be repaid in full to HMRC if the claim is based on dishonest or inaccurate information or found to be fraudulent”.
Agreeing to furlough employees: in a development since Wednesday’s Direction, HMRC’s position is that employers must confirm in writing to their employees that they have been furloughed saying “if this is done in a way that is consistent with employment law, that consent is valid for CJRS. There needs to be a written record, but the employee does not have to provide a written response”. Employers will want to ensure that their communications with employees meet this test.
Calculating pay in connection with the CJRS: HMRC have provided detailed instructions regarding the calculation of pay and the subsequent grant claim. Given the need to ensure accuracy, these instructions should be considered carefully by employers when completing calculations. The latest guidance provides welcome clarity on a number of areas including how pay is to be apportioned across a number of scenarios.
Holiday: it has been confirmed that employees can take holiday during furlough. Employees should receive 100% of their “normal rate of pay” for holiday, so employers may be required to top up appropriately. Employers will need to decide their approach to requiring employees to take holiday or to changing holiday arrangements (subject to the minimum requirements of the Working Time Regulations). The revised guidance also says "During this unprecedented time, we are keeping the policy on holiday pay during furlough under review."
Record keeping: the requirement to retain all records extends to records of calculations and the amount claimed for each furloughed employee and the period for which each employee is furloughed.
To minimise the risk of claims being rejected or delayed, employers looking to access the CJRS should review any calculations that they have already undertaken in light of this latest guidance, especially given the announcement from the Treasury that the CJRS has been extended until the end of June and will be kept under review thereafter.
One point that HMRC haven’t commented on yet is the application of the State Aid rules to the scheme but hopefully that will be forthcoming soon.