Furlough scheme cut-off date extended - what the updated guidance clarifies and what it doesn't

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15 April, 2020

The government has released two publications regarding the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) today. The headline is that the update extends the scheme to employees on PAYE on 19 March, as well as providing some additional guidance to employers.

The key points include:

  • To qualify and to protect against fraudulent claims, individuals originally had to be on PAYE 28 February 2020. Today's guidance confirms the eligibility date has been extended to 19 March 2020, which was the day before the scheme was announced. Employers can claim for furloughed employees that were employed and on their PAYE payroll on or before 19 March 2020.
  • The guidance confirms that the written agreement between an employer and employee to commence furlough leave is acceptable in electronic form, such as an email.
  • Even with today's updates, there is insufficient detail for employers around the position on holidays. The current government guidance on the scheme states employee rights are not affected by being on furlough leave, suggesting holiday entitlement would continue to accrue as normal. However, it doesn't stretch to whether holiday can be taken during furlough leave and what rate of pay the employee is entitled to receive while on holiday.
  • The Treasury Direction made under Sections 71 and 76 of the Coronavirus Act 2020, which suggests that the scheme will end on 31 May 2020, under the section 'duration'. Previously the guidance has always suggested that this could be extended, but the Direction does not make any provision for an extension.

Moreover, the changes and updates are difficult to see within the guidance because it is amended rather than flagged. This means employers and employees need to pay attention to the detail each time an update is released.

If you have any queries arising as a result of this briefing, or require any advice on the changes, please do not hesitate to get in touch with a member of the Employment Team.

For more information contact Emma Swan in our Employment & HR department via email or phone on 0333 207 1154. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

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