The government has insisted for weeks that the furlough scheme would end, as scheduled, on Saturday 31 October. But, just hours before that deadline, the Prime Minister announced that it would be extended for a month to help businesses cope with the second national lockdown, which in England is due to start on Thursday 5 November, and expected to last for at least a month.
The government has said that it will publish guidance 'shortly', but this is what we know so far.
Which organisations can claim under the extended scheme?
The rules will be similar to those under the old scheme; you must have a UK bank account and UK PAYE scheme etc and there are restrictions on those organisations which receive public funds . But, you don't have to have previously received a furlough grant to qualify.
Which employees are covered?
The rules are different from the original and flexible furlough schemes. You can claim for any employee who is on your PAYE payroll by 23.59 on Friday 30 October 2020 provided you have submitted Real Time Information about them to HMRC by that date. This means that new starters or people who have not previously been furloughed will qualify.
Other than that, the rules will mirror those under the original/flexible schemes and employees can be on any type of contract. Further information about the original eligibility requirements is available here.
How much can employers claim?
The government will pay 80% of an employee's wages subject to the original cap of £2,500 per month. You just have to pick up the national insurance and pension contribution costs.
The rules around flexible furlough will remain the same which will mean you can continue to pay staff to work some of their contractual hours and furlough them for those they don't work. The government's press release says that calculations will 'will broadly follow the same methodology as currently under the CJRS'. Our original article on flexible furlough is available here.
When can employers start to claim?
We're not sure. The government has said that it will 'confirm shortly' when claims can first be made for employee wage costs during November. However, it has confirmed that they will be no gap in eligibility for support between the end of the original/amended scheme and this extension.
You will have to claim for a minimum period of seven consecutive days.
Do staff have to agree to be re-furloughed?
We expect the rules to mirror the existing ones which require written agreement before you can furlough your staff. If you've already put in place a Job Support Scheme open or closed agreement, we recommend that you contact those employees as soon as you can to explain what has changed and ask them to agree to furlough instead. If you need any help with this, please get in touch.
What about the Job Support open and closed schemes?
These schemes were due to start on Sunday 1 November. However, they will now be postponed until the new extended furlough scheme ends.
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