Following another weekend of developments on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, we write to update you once again. Also the HMRC’s online CJRS portal opened yesterday with a reported 67,000 claims made within the first 30 minutes and over 140,000 employers claiming under the scheme. The main developments are:
- The Scheme’s end date – this has been extended from 31 May 2020 to the end of June 2020.
- Annual leave – Finally we have some clarity in relation to taking annual leave during furlough. The Government’s Employee’s Guidance now states “You can take holiday whilst on furlough.” This is as we thought would be the case. Furthermore the employer has to ‘top up’ to 100% of the employee’s normal pay and this top up cannot be reclaimed from the Government. Employees can agree to vary holiday pay entitlement, but almost all workers are entitled to 5.6 weeks’ of statutory paid annual leave each year under the Working Time Regulations (NI) 2016 (WTR), which employees cannot go below. Employers may agree a different rate of pay for additional contractual leave over and above the 5.6 weeks’ entitlement under the WTR. The Guidance concludes with a sentence saying “During this unprecedented time, we are keeping the policy on holiday pay during furlough under review.” So we may see further changes yet. A link to the Employee Guidance can be found here. At the time of writing, the Employer Guidance has not been updated in relation to annual leave.
- A step by step guide from the HMRC for employers is now available here.
- Unsurprisingly there have been a number of initial problems with the online CJRS portal including the website crashing for some people and a number of inconsistencies in relation to the figures to input. We will keep you posted on any significant issues as and when we are made aware of them.
This article does not constitute legal advice and specific advice should be sought in respect of particular cases.