How the CJRS changed from 1 May 2021
Practical guidance from ICAEW's Tax Faculty on the changes to the furlough scheme
Last updated: 1 May 2021
Key information and support on the Corona Virus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), including the latest changes and extension announced by the Chancellor in the Budget on 3 March 2021
The CJRS is the UK government's flagship support measure for organisations during the COVID-19 pandemic. It offers grants to cover a proportion of the salaries of furloughed staff. Following the Budget 2021, the scheme has been extended until 30 September 2021.
What you need to know
Who can claim: Any employer with a UK PAYE scheme and a UK bank account. There is no requirement for employers to have used a previous iteration of the scheme to be eligible.
How much can be claimed: Up to 30 June 2021 employers can claim 80% of furloughed employees' current salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500. From 1 July 2021 the level of grant reduces to 70% of salary for hours not worked and from 1 August 2021 to 60%.
How much do I have to pay the employee: The employee must be paid in accordance with their employment contract (which may be amended by agreement). The employee much be paid at least as much as the gross pay element of the grant received from HMRC.
Employer contributions: In addition to paying for all of the costs of hours the employee does work, from 1 July 2021 employers must contribute 10% towards the cost of unworked hours and from 1 August 2021 they must pay 20%. The employer must also bare the total costs of all employers' NIC and the auto-enrolled pension contributions.
Which employees can be claimed for: Employees who are furloughed full or part-time as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Up until 1 May 2021, only employees who were on payroll prior to 31 October 2020 are eligible. From 1 May, employees who were employed prior to 3 March 2021 will be eligible (ie on an RTI report between 20 March 2020 and 2 March 2021).
When will grants be paid: Within six working days of a claim being submitted.
Deadline for claims: Claims have to be submitted within 14 calendar days of the month they relate to, unless this falls on a weekend, in which case the deadline is the next weekday. However, a claim once made can be increased provided it is amended within 28 calendar days of the month it relates to. It is also possible to claim after the deadline if there is a reasonable excuse.
CJRS claims up to 30 April 2021
Employers can claim a grant of 80% of furloughed employees' current salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500.
Employers will be able to furlough employees full time or part time, but to be eligible for the grant an employee must have been on an RTI submission made to HMRC before 23:59 on 30 October 2020.
Employers will be asked to cover employer national insurance and pension contributions for hours not worked. They will continue to pay for hours worked as normal.
CJRS claims from 1 May 2021
Support available to employers will reduce as the economy reopens. Employees must continue to be paid in accordance with their employment contract, but the grant to employers will be reduced. Employers will have to contribute 10% towards the cost of unworked hours in July and 20% in August and September.
Employers are still able to furlough employees full time or part time.
Eligibility for the scheme has been further expanded. From 1 May 2021, employees who were employed on 2 March 2021 can be included as long as a payment of earnings had been reported on RTI between 20 March 2020 and 2 March 2021.
What can employers claim for periods up to 30 June 2021?
For employees on fixed pay, the claim is based on 80% of the usual salary/wages in a reference period.
The reference period is the last pay period ending on or before 19 March 2020 for employees who:
- were on the payroll on 19 March 2020 (ie, there had been a payment of earnings in the tax year 6 April 2019 to 5 April 2020, reported on an RTI submission made on or before 19 March 2020),or
- for whom you have made a valid CJRS claim in a period ending on or before 31 October 2020.
For all other employees, the reference period is the last pay period ending before 31 October 2020.
This can produce some unexpected results.
Illustration: Annie, Betty and Cathy
Annie and Betty have worked for X Ltd for many years each on a fixed salary of £24,000. Annie was furloughed between March and July 2020. Betty was not.
On 1 September 2020, they both had a pay rise to £25,000 and Cathy joined the company also on £25,000.
On 1 November 2020, all three ladies are furloughed. Although they will each be paid in accordance with their employment contract, the CJRS grant claimable by X Ltd will be
- Annie: based on her previous reference salary because she was furloughed previously, so £24,000
- Betty: based on her old reference salary even though she was not furloughed under the earlier versions of the scheme, so £24,000
- Cathy: based on her new current salary as at September because she was not actually employed until after 19 March 2020, could not have been furloughed under the earlier versions of the scheme, so £25,000.
For an employee on variable pay, hours and so pay will vary, hence usual hours are relevant.
For an employee:
- on the payroll on 19 March 2020 (ie, there had been a payment of earnings in the tax year 6 April 2019 to 5 April 2020, reported on an RTI submission made on or before 19 March 2020), or
- for whom you have made a valid CJRS claim in a period ending any time on or before 31 October 2020, the usual wages are the higher of:
- wages in the corresponding calendar period (if relevant) in the tax year 2019 to 2020, and
- the average wages payable in the tax year 2019 to 2020.
For all other employees, just use average wages payable between 6 April 2020 (or, if later, the date the employment started) and the day before they were furloughed after 31 October 2020.
What data is published on CJRS claims?
HMRC began publishing data on CJRS grant claimants on 26 January and this list is updated monthly.
The first list only included the registered business name of claimants, but from 25 February the list included a company registration number, where possible, and an indication of the amount claimed.
Employees will be able to find out if their employer has claimed for them under the scheme. It has not yet been confirmed how employees will be able to obtain this information.
A few cribs to remember
- You can save and continue a claim within seven days of starting it.
- You can delete a claim within 72 hours of submitting it.
- Claim periods must start and end within the same calendar month.
- The claim period must usually be for a minimum period of seven days - the exception is for the first and last few days in a calendar month. However, flexible furlough agreements can last for any amount of time.
- Employees can take holiday while on furlough, but if flexibly furloughed, holiday hours count as furloughed hours rather than working hours.
- CJRS V3 is NOT the same as CJRS V1, because:
o CJRS V3 is flexible; and
o employers must now bear the cost of employers’ NIC and pension contributions.
Grants overpaid can be repaid by deducting the overpayment from future grants. No further action is needed, but a record of this adjustment should be kept for six years.
HMRC has published the process for repaying grants if no further claims are going to be made. The employer needs to contact HMRC to obtain a reference number.
Contact HMRC directly to amend an error that has resulted in an under claim. HMRC is expected to conduct additional checks on these.
If you want to delete a claim in the online service, you must do this within 72 hours.
As with any aspect of CJRS, the employer must keep a written agreement confirming the furlough arrangement. Records of these employee agreements must be kept for until 30 June 2025.
Taxpayers must notify HMRC if they have claimed a grant to which they are not entitled. This must be done within 90 days of Finance Act 2020 gaining Royal Assent (so by 20 October 2020), 90 days of receipt of the grant or 90 days of ceasing to be entitled to retain the grant, whichever is the latest.
HMRC has published guidance on how to repay overclaimed CJRS grants and a factsheet on how the penalty rules apply.
The penalty regime is based on the usual failure-to-notify penalties with an additional provision which means that if the taxpayer knew that they were not entitled to the grant at the time when they received it, the overpayment must be notified or repayment made in full by the end of the notification period. Any failure arising from this additional provision will be treated as deliberate and concealed. Failure to notify penalties could be as much as the entire amount overclaimed.
HMRC may issue assessments to recover overclaimed grants. If that does not occur and monies were not otherwise repaid previously then the overclaimed amount must be reported on the taxpayer’s income tax or corporation tax return and tax paid on time.
The factsheets do not mention that error penalties apply if a taxpayer makes a mistake when putting the grant figures on their tax return.
The key risks affecting entitlement to CJRS grants are detailed in TAXguide 12/20 Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme risks and include:
- grants not used for the purposes for which they are intended;
- calculation errors; and
- employees working during periods that they are on furlough.