The government appears to have a habit of changing and adapting its Coronavirus Job Retentions Scheme (better known as the Furlough Scheme) almost daily.
This past week has been no different. The announcement that has dominated most of the media is that the CJRS Portal opened on 20th April 2020, allowing employers to reclaim from the government the up to 80% of a furloughed employees salary capped at £2500 per month. This can be accessed via the government website and according to the HMRC, 67,000 claims were made in the first 30 minutes. While there were a number of teething problems, it is our understanding that these bugs have largely been fixed and, overall, concerns that the portal would not cope with the volume of claims have not been borne out.
The government also announced that it would extend the scheme from the 31st May to the end of June 2020. It would appear that this was a necessity for many as without this extension, those businesses considering making large scale redundancies would have needed to start their collective redundancy consultation processes already if they were proposing that any resultant dismissals would take effect on closure of the scheme. The extension provides some vital breathing room for both employers and employees.
Alongside this announcement came some changes to the government’s guidance too. It was finally confirmed that it is possible to take annual leave whilst on furlough. However, should an employee choose to take the holiday, Employers will be obliged to top up their salary to its usual levels. Additionally, the guidance appears to give the employers a certain amount of flexibility to restrict when annual leave can be taken were it to amount to a business need.
The update also verified that if an employee was made redundant or stopped working for an employer on or after 28th February 2020, their old employers can re-employ them, put them on furlough and claim for their wages from the date on which they furloughed them through the scheme. This will apply even if the employer does not re-employ them until after 19th March. It is worth noting that the employee in question must have been on the payroll as at the 28th February and the HMRC must have been alerted to this individual on an RTI submission on or before 28th February 2020.
Do not hesitate to get in contact with our Employment Team if you have any questions or would like to discuss the guidance in more detail.
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