Changes to the Furlough and Self Employed Income Support Schemes

On 29 May the Chancellor announced more information on the extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. Here is a brief summary of those changes.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Three changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme have been announced:

  1. From 1 July 2020, the scheme will be made more flexible to enable employers to bring previously furloughed employees back part time and still receive a grant for the time when they are not working.
  2. From 1 August 2020, employers will have to start contributing to the wage costs of paying their furloughed staff and this employer contribution will gradually increase in September and October.
  3. The scheme will close to new entrants from 30 June.

1. Part time furloughing

From 1‌‌ July 2020, businesses using the scheme will have the flexibility to bring previously furloughed employees back to work part time – with the government continuing to pay 80% of wages for any of their normal hours they do not work up until the end of August. This flexibility comes a month earlier than previously announced to help people get back to work.

Employers will decide the hours and shift patterns their employees will work on their return, and will be responsible for paying their wages in full while working. This means that employees can work as much or as little as the business needs, with no minimum time that they can furlough staff for.

Any working hours arrangement agreed between a business and their employee must cover at least one week and be confirmed to the employee in writing. When claiming the CJRS grant for furloughed hours, they will need to report and claim for a minimum period of a week. They can choose to make claims for longer periods such as on monthly or two weekly cycles if preferred. Employers will be required to submit data on the usual hours an employee would be expected to work in a claim period and actual hours worked.

If employees are unable to return to work, or employers do not have work for them to do, they can remain on furlough and the employer can continue to claim the grant for their full hours under the existing rules.

2. Employer contributions

From August, the government grant provided through the job retention scheme will be slowly tapered.

Around a quarter of CJRS monthly claims relate to wages that are below the threshold where employer NICs and auto-enrolment contributions are due, and so no employer contribution will be required for these furloughed employees in August.

3. Important dates

It’s important to note that the scheme will close to new entrants from 30‌‌ June. From this point onwards, employers will only be able to furlough employees that they have furloughed for a full three-week period prior to 30‌‌ June.

This means that the final date by which an employer can furlough an employee for the first time will be 10‌‌ June for the current three-week furlough period to be completed by 30‌‌ June. Employers will have until 31‌‌ July to make any claims in respect of the period to 30‌‌ June.

Guidance

Further support for employers and agents on how to calculate claims with this extra flexibility will be available by 12 June.

In conjunction with The East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce - Chamber Live Lisa Kennery, Director of the Pierce Business Advisory & Accountancy Group, will explain what the changes mean for employers and employees, and answer your questions in this interactive webinar.

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

The Government has also announced an extension to the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) for those people whose trade is adversely affected by COVID-19 (coronavirus). Eligible self-employed people will be able to claim a second and final SEISS grant in August; this will be a taxable grant worth 70% of their average monthly trading profits for three months, paid out in a single instalment and capped at £6,570 in total.

The eligibility criteria for the second grant will be the same as for the first grant. You do not need to have claimed the first grant to claim the second grant: for example, your business may have been adversely affected by COVID-19 (coronavirus) more recently.

Claims for the first SEISS grant, which opened on 13‌‌ May, must be made no later than 13‌‌ July. If eligible you must make a claim before that date to receive the first SEISS grant (a taxable grant of 80% of their average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering 3 months' worth of profits, and capped at £7,500 in total). So far, there have been over 2.3 million claims worth £6.8 billion.

It's really important to note that as with the first SEISS grant, the eligible individual must make the claim themselves. 

More information about the second SEISS grant will be available on GOV.‌‌UK on 12‌‌ June.

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