19 January 2021 #Employment
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) guidance was updated on 10 November 2020 (Employmentbuddy - Furlough Scheme Update), warning employers that submitting a CJRS claim from 1 December 2020 onwards meant they were also agreeing to HMRC publishing their names.
HMRC believes this publication will promote transparency and deter fraudulent CJRS claims from being submitted. However, HMRC will not publish employer details if it would result in ‘a serious risk of violence and or intimidation to certain individuals’. Individuals is broadly defined and includes the employers themselves as well as their employees and/or any directors, partners, and members, or anyone living with them.
The first list of employer names is due to be published on 26 January 2021 on GOV.UK. From February 2021, HMRC will publish employer names, an indication of the value of the claim and the company number (for companies and LLPs) on a monthly basis. Employers wishing to avoid being named on 26 January 2021 must therefore submit their applications as soon as possible.
Employers must contact HMRC directly themselves to request a publication exemption. Agents or accountants cannot do it on their client’s behalf. HMRC will also require employers to submit evidence to substantiate the risk and/or intimidation.
The guidance does not provide any concrete examples of what sort of evidence is required but remember that there needs to be evidence of ‘serious risk’. HMRC will not publish any names until make a decision has been made about the application not to publish and the employer has been informed.
The publication exemption is exceptional but if employers are genuinely concerned that publication of their details will result in violence and/or intimidation to any relevant individuals then they should take legal advice as soon as possible.
Finally, we would encourage employers not to compare HMRC’s new CJRS list with the way HMRC ‘names and shames’ employers who fail to pay the National Minimum Wage. Whilst one of objectives of publishing information about CJRS claims is to prevent fraud, law-biding and well-intentioned employers should have nothing to fear from publication.
If employers are worried about making genuine claim mistakes – which is quite understandable given the amount of last minute guidance and changes which has been a feature of the CJRS since it was introduced in March 2020 – they should seek advice.
There is also no need, in our view, for employers to compare themselves unfavourably with those household names which have returned furlough pay to HMRC because they did not need it after all. Not all businesses are in a position to do this and the purpose of the CJRS is to support businesses and their staff affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Please do get in contact with us if you would like more information on any issues that may be affecting your business in these difficult times. You can give us a call on 0118 958 5321 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org