What you need to know about getting government support if you’re a furloughed worker.


In recent weeks, the government has announced an unprecedented set of measures to help support citizens and businesses during the COVID-19 crisis. Measures that HMRC is responsible for have included deferral of VAT and Self-Assessment payments, the new Time to Pay helpline, the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme and changes to Statutory Sick Pay and increases in tax credits.


One of the most significant examples of business support that HMRC will put in place during this challenging time is the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).


In short, this scheme allows UK employers whose employees are unable to work to access support to ensure that they are able to continue paying a large part of their employees’ salary.


HMRC will pay employers a grant meeting 80% of an employee’s usual wage costs, up to £2,500 a month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on the subsidised wage.


Employers claiming the grant will still pay employees who are being kept on the payroll (but have been asked to stop working) at least 80% of their usual pay. These employees are known as ‘furloughed employees’. During this ‘furlough’, employees must not carry out any work or volunteering for their employer.


CJRS aims to safeguard employees against redundancies that may have otherwise occurred due to the effects that COVID-19 has had on the global economy.


Regardless of whether an employee’s contract is zero-hours, temporary or through a recruitment agency, all UK employers with a PAYE scheme that was created and started on or before 28 February 2020 will be eligible. The CJRS applies to all sectors, including charities.


Grants under the CJRS can be backdated to 1 March 2020 and will initially run up to 31 May, although the Chancellor did announce he will extend the scheme if necessary. An online service will be available by the end of this month for employers to start making their claims on GOV.UK.


For the self-employed, who are not covered by the CJRS, the Chancellor has announced the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, which offers a similar level of support for self-employed workers provided they make over half their income from being self-employed and their 2018/19 profits are less than £50,000 or the average of their profits over the last 3 years is less than £50,000.


Employers could find out more about the scheme, whether they are eligible and how to apply here.

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