Belfast Telegraph

Is your business prepared for the changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme?

HMRC, which administers the scheme, confirmed that 211,700 people in Northern Ireland are enrolled by their employers on the coronavirus job-retention scheme (CJRS) and are being supported by the government.

The numbers for the whole United Kingdom as of the 30th June 2020 are approximately 9.4 million jobs from 1.14 million employers were furloughed as part of the Government’s CJRS.  This is estimated to have cost the government £26.5 billion.

Changes from 1 August: The government will continue to pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 but employers will no longer include the Employer National Insurance and/or Employer pension contributions.

Changes from September: The government will pay 70% of wages up to a cap of £2187.50 for the hours the employee does not work – employers will pay employer national insurance, employer pension contributions and 10% of wages to make up 80% capped at £2500.

Changes from 1 October: The government will pay 60% of wages up to a cap of £1875 for the hours the employee does not work – employers will pay employer national insurance, employer pension contributions and 20% of wages to make up 80% of the total up to a cap of £2500.

Job Retention Bonus: The JRB will be a one-off payment of £1,000 to employers that have used the CJRS for each furloughed employee who remains continuously employed until 31‌‌‌ ‌January 2021. The bonus is designed to provide additional support to retain employees. 

To be eligible, employees will need to earn at least £520 per month on average for November, December, and January and have been furloughed at any point and claimed for under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme; and have been continuously employed up until at least 31‌‌‌ ‌January 2021. 

Employers will be able to claim the bonus from February 2021.

Unfortunately, despite the creation of the CJRS and the JRB and the welcome support this brings, there may be circumstances where an employer feels there are no suitable alternatives to redundancy. The usual duties and compliance around redundancy have not changed and the employment contract remains in force throughout the period of furlough; in particular, around holiday accrual.

It is critical for employers to align with these stages, review the latest Government guidance and to keep processes for staff under review.