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How do I access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme?

The scheme is being administered by HMRC under a new online portal that has been set up. It applies to businesses, charities, recruitment agencies, individuals who employ a nanny, administrators (where there is a reasonable likelihood of re-hiring the workers) and public authorities.

All employers with a UK payroll can apply as long as you have:

  • Created and started a PAYE payroll scheme on or before 28 February 2020
  • Enrolled for PAYE online (which can take up to 10 days)
  • A UK bank account.

To make a claim you will need:

  • The number of employees being furloughed
  • The start and end date of the claim
  • The name and National Insurance Numbers for each furloughed employee
  • Your employer PAYE reference number
  • To be registered for PAYE online
  • The Self-Assessment Unique Taxpayer Reference, Corporation Tax Unique Taxpayer Reference or Company Registration Number as appropriate for your entity
  • Your UK bank account details and sort code
  • Your name and contact number
  • Your organisation’s registered name
  • Your organisation’s billing address
  • The full amounts you are claiming for including:
    • Employee wages
    • Employer national insurance contributions
    • Employer minimum pension contributions

For claims for those who are flexibly furloughed you will also need:

  • the number of usual hours the employee would work during the claim period
  • the hours the employee has worked or will work during this period
  • you will also need to keep a record of the number of furloughed hours that the employee has or will be furloughed for.

You will need the above information ready before you access the system to make a claim. You will also need to have calculated the amounts claimed in advance as the application needs to be completed in one session. You can currently save one draft of the application and it must be completed within 7 days of starting it.

The Government has issued a step-by-step guide for employers who wish to make a claim under the scheme which can be found using the link below. It contains useful information about calculating the payments claimed. You will need to register for a Government Gateway ID and password if you do not yet have one in order to access the portal.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/880099/Coronavirus_Job_Retention_Scheme_step_by_step_guide_for_employers.pdf

If you use an agent who is authorised to act for you for PAYE purposes, they will be able to make a claim on your behalf. If you use a file only agent (who files your RTI return but doesn’t act for you on any other matters) they won’t be authorised to make a claim for you and you will need to make the claim yourself. A file only agent can assist you in obtaining the information required to make a claim (listed above). If an agent makes a claim on your behalf you will need to tell them which bank account you would like the grant to be paid into.

For claims for fewer than 100 employees you will need to input the details separately for each employee. If claiming for more than 100 employees you can upload a file with the information instead. The file should include the following information for each furloughed employee: name, National Insurance number, claim period and claim amount, payroll/employee number (optional). You will also need to include details of hours normally worked, actual hours worked and hours furloughed for those who are flexibly furloughed.

The need to demonstrate the impact of coronavirus on your business is not one of the criteria listed above about who can make a claim, so the government does not appear to intend to set a specific test to determine if a business is “severely impacted by coronavirus”. You are not required to explain the impact of Coronavirus on your business when submitting your claim.

HMRC will retain the right to audit any claim retrospectively. You must keep records for 6 years including:

  • the amount claimed and claim period for each employee
  • the claim reference number
  • you calculations for each claim
  • details of hours usually worked and hours actually worked for flexibly furloughed employees.

You must tell your employees that you have made a claim under the scheme, and you must continue to pay their wages during this time.

Related FAQs

What are the current planning restrictions on supermarkets, food retailers and distribution centres concerning deliveries?

On 13 March 2020 the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government issued a Written Statement in respect of delivery restrictions.

In this respect, many supermarkets, food retailers and distribution centres in England operate under planning restrictions (conditions and/or obligations) which limit the time and number of deliveries from lorries and other delivery vehicles which can take place particularly at night primarily to protect the residential amenity of nearby residential property.

Key points in the Statement include;

  • Given the exceptional challenges facing the UK from the coronavirus, it is vital that deliveries of food, sanitary and other essential products over the coming weeks can be made as quickly and safely as possible, minimising disruption to the supply chains. The likely pressures on driver capacity mean additional flexibility is needed so that retailers can accept deliveries throughout the day and night where necessary.
  • That planning enforcement is discretionary and that local planning authorities should act proportionately in responding to suspected breaches of planning control.
  • That local planning authorities should not seek to undertake planning enforcement action which would result in unnecessarily restricting deliveries of food and other essential deliveries during this period having regard to their legal obligations.

The Statement acknowledges that the increased frequency of deliveries particularly at night could have a temporary impact on residents. It therefore concludes that the Government will review the need for the flexibility outlined in the Statement after the pressure from the coronavirus has reduced and that it is the intention to withdraw it once the immediate urgency has subsided.

A link to the Written Statement is below.

https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2020-03-13/HCWS159/

What should I do if my apprentice is due to finish their fixed-term contract during the pandemic?

Employers who have apprentices on fixed-term contracts due to end during the pandemic should discuss arrangements with the apprentices including whether an extension to the contract can be offered to allow them to complete their apprenticeship.

What can I do as an employer if employees are known to be breaking the local lockdown rules?

This will depend on the particular facts and the employee’s circumstances but an employee should co-operate with the employer so far as is necessary to enable compliance with any statutory duty or requirement relating to health and safety.

In addition, conduct outside of work can result in an employee’s dismissal if the conduct pertains to the employment relationship. If an employee breaches their lockdown rules and it affects their ability to work, such as it being no longer safe for them to attend work, or the reputation of the employer, these may be grounds for disciplinary action and subsequent dismissal.

I’m getting married but have had to postpone the wedding. Should I delay putting a prenuptial agreement in place until a later date?

No. The greater the gap between the completion of a Prenuptial Agreement and the Wedding the more likely it will be upheld by the Court. If such an Agreement is made shortly before the wedding takes place one of the parties to it could claim that they felt under pressure to sign and the Court may decline to follow it.

Can I demand that my employees have the vaccine?

In most circumstances the answer will be no. It would be an infringement of their human rights. It could also be a criminal assault.

However where there is a high risk to employees of exposure to COVID-19, such as care homes and healthcare environments, you might be able to make it a requirement of their role to have the vaccine.

First, consider whether you need to have a blanket requirement covering all employees or whether only certain groups who work in the most high risk areas require the vaccine.

You will need to do a thorough risk assessment balancing the amount that the risk of exposure would be reduced against the interference with the employee’s human rights. Consideration will need to be given as to whether insisting on the vaccine is proportionate to the risk and whether other less invasive steps could be taken instead, such as maintaining social distancing, wearing a mask, washing hands.

Any requirement for employees to be vaccinated should be communicated clearly to employees and trade unions together with a clear explanation for why it is necessary.