New COVID Treasury Direction
On 13 November 2020, HM Treasury published the Coronavirus Act 2020 Functions of HMRC (Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme) Direction. This is the fourth such direction issued by the Treasury and collectively they form the legal framework for the CJRS.
The Direction does the following:
- formally extends the CJRS from 1 November 2020 to 31 March 2021
- sets out how the CJRS will operate between 1 November 2020 and 31 January 2021 – the fifth direction covering February and March 2021 will be published in due course.
- withdraws the Coronavirus Job Retention Bonus.
The main focus of the fourth direction is to address how the CJRS will operate from 1 November 2020 to the end of January 2021. The rules will cover a wide range including eligibility, furlough agreements, claim periods, reference salaries, calculating usual hours of work, permitted activities during furlough, business succession including TUPE, PAYE scheme reorganisations, limits for making claims and publication of CJRS claimants’ details.
Some key points:
- It is now a condition of making a claim that the employer accepts that HMRC will publish information about CJRS claims on the internet (including the name of the employer and a ‘reasonable indication’ of the amount claimed).
- Furlough agreements must be in place before the start of the relevant claim period. While it may be sufficient to update an earlier agreement, this must be done before the employee is furloughed under this phase of the CJRS.
- Importantly, claims may not be made for any period an employee is serving notice between 1 December 2020 and 31 January 2021 – the latest guidance states this covers both statutory notice and contractual notice periods.