On 31 October 2020, HM Treasury announced that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), which was due to come to an end that day, would be extended in order to provide support to businesses and employees during the new national lockdown due to begin on Thursday 5 November. It therefore remains available to businesses as of today (1 November) and will be open until December. The level of support available under the extended scheme mirrors that available under the CJRS in August, with the Government paying 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500. Flexible furloughing is allowed under the extended CJRS, as well as full-time furloughing. The Job Support Scheme, which was scheduled to come into effect today, has been postponed until the CJRS ends.
The HM Treasury press release outlines the eligibility rules governing the extended CJRS. It states that neither the employer nor the employee needs to have previously used the CJRS, and that the scheme is available in respect of employees who were on the employer’s PAYE payroll by 23:59 on 30 October 2020. Employers can claim the grant for the hours that their employees are not working, calculated by reference to their usual hours worked in a claim period. When claiming the CJRS grant for furloughed hours, employers need to report and claim for a minimum period of seven consecutive calendar days. For hours not worked by the employee, the Government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500, which must be paid to the employee in full. Employers will pay employer NICs and pension contributions, and should continue to pay the employee for hours worked in the normal way. As previously under the CJRS, employers are still able to choose to top up employee wages above the scheme grant at their own expense if they wish.
The Government will confirm shortly when claims can first be made in respect of employee wage costs during November but states that there will be no gap in eligibility for support between the previously announced end-date of CJRS and this extension. Further details and guidance will be issued shortly.