**Updated on 16/04/2020 due to amended guidance from the government on employee start date eligibility.
Over the past few days, HMRC updated the guidance for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. This update looks to clarify a few points, especially around the type of employees who are eligible.
The Job Retention Scheme provides support for employers to help pay their employees during this difficult period instead of having to lay them off. It runs initially for three months, with claims able to be backdated to 1st March 2020.
The government will provide a grant of up to 80% of the employee's salary up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. The employer isn't required to top up the remaining 20% in order to claim the grant. The key point is only furloughed employees will be eligible - being furloughed means being kept on the company payroll without completing any work.
The employee will have needed to be on the payroll as at 19th March 2020 and the payroll reported to HMRC on or before this date to be eligible. For anyone who started a new role in March 2020, the RTI report (a submission to HMRC notifying them of the payroll details) must have been made by 19th March 2020. Unfortunately, this means that any new starters that were paid at the end of the month will still be ineligible for the scheme.
Each furlough period is a minimum of 3 weeks and the employee should receive written notice that they're being furloughed and the dates this will cover. You will need to keep a copy of the letter for the company records for 5 years. As an employer, you'll need a UK bank account for the grant to be paid into.
The main clarification is around company directors, with the previous guidance having no mention on whether company directors would be able to access the grant.
The guidance now states that directors are able to be furloughed, this includes PSCs and single-director limited companies. As a furloughed director, you should only complete the statutory duties required. The guidance specifically states that a director shouldn't 'do work of a kind they would carry out in normal circumstances to generate commercial revenue or provides services to or on behalf of their company.'
HMRC are expected to release new software on 20th April 2020 to claim for the grant. HMRC have said that you'll need a online PAYE gateway account, however accountants who are registered as PAYE agents will be able to make the claim on behalf of their clients. The grant will be paid into the company's UK bank account and must be paid in full to the relevant employees, no administration fees can be deducted from the grant.
Full details of the job retention scheme can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme
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