NFU Scotland | /the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme.aspx

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The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme


What is the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme?

The scheme is for people who would otherwise be laid off during this crisis. It is designed to safeguard workers being made redundant. All businesses are eligible.

This scheme does not apply for:

  • Self-employed people, or
  • People who get any income from being self-employed.

This scheme is available to workers who have been asked to stop working, but who are being kept on the payroll. These workers are classified as ‘furloughed’ workers and cannot conduct any work for their employer whilst classified as ‘furloughed’.

Through this scheme, HMRC will reimburse 80% of the employees' average wages, capped at £2,500 per month. It will include the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on that wage.

It has been confirmed that from August 2020, it will be possible to furlough workers on a part-time basis. Further details are forthcoming and will be confirmed by the end of May.

The scheme will cover the costs of wages backdated to 1st March and will be open until 31 October 2020. Employers can use this scheme anytime during this period.

More information about the recent announcement to extend the scheme is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/chancellor-extends-furlough-scheme-until-october


How can I apply for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme?

The portal to apply to the scheme is now live. Please note that HMRC have made amends to the portal to include a save and return option.

HMRC have published guidance about how to apply for the scheme here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wages-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

HMRC have also produced step-by-step guidance about how to apply for the scheme for employers, available here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/880092/Coronavirus_Job_Retention_Scheme_step_by_step_guide_for_employers.pdf

HMRC published a revised version of the guide that is clearer and includes recent additions to the process on 11 May 2020.

NFUS members can access a briefing which provides an overview of the application process here: https://www.nfus.org.uk/coronavirus/coronavirusqa/coronavirus-business-guide-updates.aspx


How do I avoid making mistakes in my application?

HMRC have published some ‘top tips’ to avoid making common mistakes on your application, including:

  1. Read the guidance before you apply, including the step-by-step guidance, and calculator to determine your claim,
  2. Check your employees are eligible by referring to Government Guidance, 
  3. Check your calculations before submitting a claim, in case details have changed,
  4. Only submit one claim per pay period, it is not possible to claim for overlapping periods and claim for all furloughed employers during that period, 
  5. Try to find all National Insurance (NI) numbers for your employees to avoid delays to your claim. If an employee doesn’t have an NI number yet contact HMRC to complete your claim here: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-revenue-customs/contact/get-help-with-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme
  6. Double check your application! Currently, there is no way to amend your claim after you have submitted it. If HMRC identify an error, they will contact your, or your agent.
  7. After you have made your application, check if you need to report wages here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/reporting-payments-in-paye-real-time-information-from-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme


There is also a briefing available to NFUS members providing background on how to apply, dated 30 April 2020:

Available here: https://www.nfus.org.uk/coronavirus/coronavirusqa/coronavirus-business-guide-updates.aspx



Who is eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme?

You can check if you are eligible to claim for your employees’ wages through the scheme here:  https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme


What is a furloughed worker?

A furloughed worker is a specific status of worker which allows their employer to request financial support through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.


Who is eligible to be furloughed?

Detailed information to consider if an employee is eligible to be furloughed is available here:  https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-you-could-be-covered-by-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

Key things to note include:

  • Employer and workers must come to agreement to furlough first,
  • Employers must apply 


I have a worker who is absent from work due to Coronavirus, are they eligible to be furloughed?

  • If you have a worker who is currently absent from work because they are self-isolating, they will be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay,
  • If you have a worker who is currently absent from work because they are ill, they will be may be eligible for Agricultural Sick Pay.

Following a period of self-isolation or sick leave, it is possible to furlough workers.

More information is available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

I have a worker shielding in line with Public Health guidance, what can I do?

If you have workers who have been told by Public Health Authorities, they must shield themselves from the virus, it is possible to furlough workers.

More information is available here:  https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

How does a worker become furloughed?

The decision to furlough a worker must be through agreement between the employee and worker. Employers will need to:

  • Select and tell (designate) the employees affected that they are furloughed,
  • Keep these employees on to employer’s payroll.

Importantly, the employer and employee must come to an agreement to do this, and furloughed workers must be selected to avoid any discrimination.


How do I come to a Furlough Agreement?

Any furlough agreement will overlay an existing contractual agreement between the employer and worker. Therefore, any existing agreements remain intact.

To start this process, it is a good idea to start with an open and honest conversation explaining the reasons you have come to the decision to furlough the worker. Any furlough agreements should be made in writing, it is a good idea to include information such as:

  • When the date of the furlough starts,
  • When it will be reviewed,
  • How to keep in contact during furlough.

ACAS has developed a template to furlough letter, available here: https://www.acas.org.uk/furlough-letter-template

It’s important to note that the worker will must remain on the employer's payroll during furlough and they are unable to work for this employer during furlough. Further, it is important to consider how to manage accrued holidays during this time, and how to manage this upon the workers return to work.

More information is available from the UK Government here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses#support-for-businesses-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme


Can I employ an individual who has been furloughed from other employment?

Yes. Under the terms of the Job Retention Scheme, furloughed workers are prohibited from undertaking any work for their existing employer however are able to take on temporary or seasonal work elsewhere for the duration of the furlough period. Therefore, there are no restrictions to NFU Scotland members employing individuals who are furloughed from other employment.  However, furloughed workers are able to take on temporary or seasonal work elsewhere for the duration of the furlough period. Therefore, there are no restrictions to NFU Scotland members employing individuals who are furloughed from other employment.


What do I need to make a claim under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme?

The UK Government have highlighted that you will need to provide the following to make a claim:

  1. The bank account number and sort code you’d like us to use when we pay your claim.
  2. The name and phone number of the person in your business for us to call with any questions.
  3. Your Self-Assessment UTR (Unique Tax Reference), Company UTR or CRN (Company Registration Number).
  4. The name, employee number and National Insurance number for each of your furloughed employees.
  5. The total amount being claimed for all employees and the total furlough period.

If you use an agent who is authorised to act for you for PAYE purposes, they will be able to make a claim on your behalf, so please speak to them now.

If you use a file-only agent, they won’t be able to make a claim for you and you will need to do this yourself.
More detailed information is available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme


How do I calculate 80% of my employees’ wage?

You will need to calculate the amount of money you are claiming before you start your application to the scheme.
HMRC have produced a helpful guide, available here:  https://www.gov.uk/guidance/work-out-80-of-your-employees-wages-to-claim-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme


What further guidance is available for NFUS members regarding the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme?

NFUS affiliate members Greenburn have developed specialist guidance regarding the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, available here: The Greenburn Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme FAQ is available here

A briefing providing an overview of how to apply for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is available to NFUS members, available here: https://www.nfus.org.uk/coronavirus/coronavirusqa/coronavirus-business-guide-updates.aspx


What other information is available about the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme?

HMRC has made a recorded webinar on the scheme available on their YouTube channel. It can be accessed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYUTorQmkCI&list=PL8EcnheDt1zhTsyhT9ak3xiXnmlvbHJJV&index=3



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