Deadline looms for November’s lockdown furlough claims

HMRC has issued a reminder to employers that used the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) during November’s lockdown that they have until December 14 to submit claims.

Employers can no longer submit claims for periods ending on or before October 31, 2020. The deadline for those claims has now passed.

The furlough scheme has been extended until March 31 next year and the government will review the scheme in January.

Employers can claim 80 per cent of an employee’s usual salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.

Under the scheme businesses have flexibility to bring furloughed employees back to work on a part time basis or furlough them full-time.

They are only asked to cover National Insurance and employer pension contributions which, for the average claim, accounts for just five per cent of total employment costs.

How the scheme works

Employers small or large, charitable or non-profit, are eligible for the extended CJRS.

All employers with a UK bank account and UK PAYE schemes can claim the grant. Neither the employer nor the employee needs to have previously used the CJRS.

To be eligible to be claimed for under this extension, employees must be on an employer’s PAYE payroll by 23:59 on October 30, 2020.

This means a Real Time Information (RTI) submission notifying payment for that employee to HMRC must have been made on or before that date.

Employees can be on any type of contract. Employers will be able to agree any working arrangements with employees.

Employers can claim the grant for the hours their employees are not working, calculated by reference to their usual hours worked in a claim period. Such calculations will broadly follow the same methodology as currently under the CJRS.

When claiming the CJRS grant for furloughed hours, employers will need to report and claim for a minimum period of seven consecutive calendar days.

Employers will need to report hours worked and the usual hours an employee would be expected to work in a claim period.

For worked hours, employees will be paid by their employer subject to their employment contract and employers will be responsible for paying the tax and NICs due on those amounts.

What support is being provided and employer costs

For hours not worked by the employee, the government will pay 80 per cent of wages up to a cap of £2,500. The grant must be paid to the employee in full.

Employers will pay employer NICs and pension contributions, and should continue to pay the employee for hours worked in the normal way.

As with the current CJRS, employers are still able to choose to top up employee wages above the scheme grant at their own expense if they wish.

Claim Delays

HMRC says it may accept a claim made after the relevant deadline.

But only if employers had a “reasonable excuse” for failing to make a claim in time, despite taking reasonable care to do so and then claimed without delay after the excuse no longer applied.

You may have a reasonable excuse if for example:

• your partner or another close relative died shortly before the claim deadline
• you had an unexpected stay in hospital that prevented you from dealing with your claim
• you had a serious or life-threatening illness, including Coronavirus related illnesses, which prevented you from making your claim (and no one else could claim for you)
• a period of self-isolation prevented you from making your claim (and no one else could make the claim for you)
• your computer or software failed just before or while you were preparing your online claim
• service issues with HMRC online services prevented you from making your claim
• a fire, flood or theft prevented you from making your claim
• postal delays that you could not have predicted prevented you from making your claim
• delays related to a disability you have prevented you from making your claim
• a HMRC error prevented you from making your claim

HMRC says it will not consider reasonable excuses in advance of a claim deadline.