COVID-19: Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (April 9 Update)

9 minute read
14 April 2020

Since the Chancellor's announced the introduction of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) on 20 March, HMRC has been working at unprecedented speed to set out the Scheme's rules.

On 26 March, we had CJRS Guidance Mark 1, 4 April CJRS Guidance Mark 2 and late on 9 April we got CJRS Guidance Mark 3 which helpfully addresses some of the significant glaring gaps from CJRS Guidance Mark 2.

The latest Guidance is available at

So just what gaps does the latest CJRS Guidance published late on 9 April close? (HMRC really does have a love for publishing revisions just as the working week has finished!)

CJRS Guidance Mark 3 changes:

  1. What employers need to make a claim

    As announced on 8 April, by Jim Harra, First Permanent Secretary and Chief Executive of HMRC, the system for employers to submit their claims will be live on 20 April. Payments under the Scheme are to be made to employers by the end of April. The CJRS Guidance Mark 3 has now updated the list of information the employer must have to support a claim. To claim, employers will need:
    • the employer's PAYE reference number
    • the number of employees being furloughed
    • National Insurance numbers for the employees the employer wants to furlough (NEW)
    • Names of the employees the emplpyer wants to furlough (NEW)
    • Payroll/works numbers for the employees the employer wants to furlough (NEW)
    • the Self Assessment Unique Taxpayer Reference or Corporation Tax Unique Taxpayer Reference or Company Registration Number (NEW)
    • the claim period (start and end date)
    • amount claimed (per the minimum length of furloughing of three consecutive weeks)
    • bank account number and sort code
    • contact name
    • phone number

    It remains the case that employers will need to calculate the amount claimed and HMRC retains the right to retrospectively audit all aspects of a claim.

  2. Use of authorised agents for PAYE purposes

    Also added to the Guidance Mark 3 is that if an agent is authorised to act for the employer for PAYE purposes, they will be able to make a claim on the employer's behalf. But if a file only agent is used (who files the RTI return but doesn't act for the employer on any other matters), they won't be authorised to make a claim. In that case the employer will need to make the claim instead, though the file only agent can assist in obtaining the information needed.

  3. Sick Pay

    The Guidance on employees who are on sick leave has been significantly expanded. Employers are free to switch employees from sick pay to furlough and vice versa, although this should not be abused by using furlough to 'top up' small amounts of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for short term absences.

    The Guidance states: "If..employers want to furlough employees for business reasons and they are currently off sick, they are eligible to do so, as with other employees. In these cases, the employee should no longer receive sick pay and would be classified as a furloughed employee". Likewise, "furloughed employees retain their statutory rights, including their right to SSP. This means that furloughed employees who become ill must be paid at least SSP". BUT "it is up to employers to decide whether to move these employees onto SSP or to keep them on furlough, at their furloughed rate. If a furloughed employee who becomes sick is moved onto SSP, employers can no longer claim for the furloughed salary".

    It is important for employers to note that it is up to the employer whether to put the employee on sick leave or furlough. If the employee is put on sick leave then the employer cannot claim under the CJRS for the furlough salary. Also, if the employee is kept on furlough, then the furlough pay they receive must be at least the level of SSP. As the current rate of SSP is £95.85 per week, this is unlikely to be an issue.

    CJRS Guidance Mark 3 also, makes it clear that employers can furlough 'shielding' employees, and those employees do not have to be placed on sick pay. Guidance Mark 2 inexplicably referred to employers only being able to furlough shielding employees who would otherwise be made redundant. This reference has been removed (presumably as it was a mistake).

  4. Returners from statutory leave

    The CJRS Guidance Mark 3 now expressly states that in line with other employees, claims for full or part time employees returning from statutory leave* after 28 February 2020 should be calculated against their salary, before tax, not the pay they received whilst on statutory leave.

    Claims for those on variable pay, returning from statutory leave should be calculated using either the:
    • same month's earning from the previous year
    • average monthly earnings for the 2019-2020 tax year.

    *includes maternity leave, paternity leave, shared parental leave, adoption leave, sick leave and parental bereavement leave.

  5. TUPE

    Question: If a TUPE transfer takes effect after a 28 February 2020, are the employees qualifying employees for the purposes of the Scheme, as they were not on the transferee's payroll on 28 February 2020? We now have a clear answer: Yes. The Guidance Mark 3 now states: "A new employer is eligible to claim under the CJRS in respect of the employees of a previous business transferred after 28th February 2020 if either the TUPE or PAYE business succession rules apply to the change in ownership."

  6. Payroll consolidation

    Where a group of companies have multiple PAYE schemes and there is a transfer of all employees from these schemes into a new consolidated PAYE scheme after 28 February 2020, the new scheme will be eligible to furlough those employees and claim the grants available under the CJRS.

  7. Linked or associated companies

    The latest Employer's Guidance makes it clear that the 'no work' rule while on furlough applies to work not only for the employer but also in relation to the provision of services or generating of revenue for a linked or associated organisation. Previously this was only referred to in the Employee's Guidance Mark 2 but not the Employer's Guidance Mark 2.

  8. Immigration

    The Guidance Mark 3 now confirms that those with certain work visas will not be regarded as breaching their visa conditions if they receive funds under the furlough scheme: "Grants under the scheme are not counted as ‘access to public funds', and you can furlough employees on all categories of visa."

  9. Reclaimable NI and pension contributions

    The Guidance Mark 3 provides additional clarification that the reclaimable NI and pension elements are on the furlough salary, not normal salary, up to the level of the minimum automatic enrolment employer contribution.

  10. Benefits in Kind and Salary Sacrifice Schemes

    The Guidance Mark 3 provides additional clarification that no part of the reclaimed grant can be netted off to pay for the provision of benefits or a salary sacrifice scheme. The entire grant must be paid to the employee with no deductions for any administration charge, fees or other costs in connection with the employment.

  11. Contractors within the public sector

    There is now a section for public sector organisations on requirements for furloughing a contractor engaged via a Personal Services Company in scope of the IR35 off-payroll working rules.

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