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06 Nov 2020


Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme extended until March 2021, UK Government confirms

Just days after announcing that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) would continue from 1 November until 2 December 2020, the Chancellor of the Exchequer confirmed the continuation of the furlough scheme until 31 March 2021.

Thousands of employees will continue to benefit under the extended scheme, in which the Government will pay 80% of wages for hours not worked, up to a cap of £2,500, with the employer paying National Insurance and pension contributions for those hours. The Government has indicated that this timeline will be reviewed in January 2021 to determine whether economic circumstances are improving enough to ask employers to increase contributions. The Job Retention Bonus will now not be paid in February as its policy intent has fallen away. However, there will possibly be some form of retention incentive to be deployed at a later date.

Details of the newly extended CJRS are contained in an HMRC policy paper, together with an economic support factsheet. The policy paper sets out updated details on eligibility criteria for employers and employees; what employers will need in order to claim and updated information on reference data to calculate those claims.

Employers will have flexibility to use the scheme for employees for any amount of time or shift pattern, furloughing employees on either a full-time or part-time basis, and will be able to vary the hours worked in agreement with the employee. Neither the employer nor the employee needs to have previously claimed or have been claimed for under the CJRS to make a claim under the extended CJRS. An employer can claim for employees who were employed and on its PAYE payroll on 30 October 2020. Notably, employees who were made redundant or stopped working after 23 September 2020 can be re-employed and claimed for.

Where consistent with employment law, any flexible furlough or furlough agreement made retrospectively that has effect from 1 November 2020 will be valid for the purposes of a CJRS claim. However, only retrospective agreements put in place up to and including 13 November 2020 may be relied on for the purposes of a CJRS claim.

Further details and guidance on the scheme will be published on 10 November.


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