How does salary sacrifice affect the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme?
- Employee pensions contributions are often paid by way of salary sacrifice arrangements.
- Use of such arrangements may reduce the amount of wage an employer can claim under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, as the reimbursement is calculated by reference to an employee’s actual pay as at 28 February 2020, hence post sacrifice pay.
- Using the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme does not in itself bring a salary sacrifice arrangement to an end, but where an employer wishes to maximise the amount of an employee’s pay that will be covered by the CJRS, the employer and employee(s) concerned may agree to terminate the salary sacrifice arrangement as part of furlough. HMRC has recently announced that the Covid-19 pandemic will be considered a “life event” (i.e. one of the permitted reasons to break a salary sacrifice arrangement mid-term), if the employment contract is updated accordingly.
Data on properties, and people, has never been more important.
Given that compliance is at risk here, such a decision must be made by the Board to ensure good governance. Board approval should be sought and recorded for the approach the organisation is taking.
It is essential that you continue to record your data on compliance and report to your board at all times, and that there is a clear audit trail for issues with access, and if appropriate to the Regulator. Access issues as a result of self-isolation should be readily identifiable.
Operatives need to be provided with the tools to operate in as safe a way as possible:
- Checklist of questions to ascertain occupant’s current health
- Protective equipment (masks, gloves, over clothing)
The Gas Safe website is a useful resource for updates: https://www.gassaferegister.co.uk/help-and-advice/covid-19-advice-and-guidance/
All employers in the UK are eligible to participate in the scheme. The purpose of the scheme is to allow employers to claim back employment costs if they have furloughed employees arising from the coronavirus crisis. Importantly this means the scheme is not limited to cases where the employee would otherwise have been made redundant.
- Between 1 November 2020 – 30 June 2021, the government will reimburse employers for 80% of wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month, with employers expected to contribute 10% of that 80% in July 2021 and 20% of that 80% in August and September 2021. Employers will still need to pay employer NICs and employer pension contributions (these cannot be claimed for).
- The scheme now also allows employees to return to work part time being on furlough for the remainder. See flexible furlough above for more information.
- The employer can agree to pay the employee more than it will be reimbursed but it cannot reclaim the additional amount or any other costs associated with the additional amount.
- The workers covered by the scheme are those who have been “furloughed” which is a leave of absence.
- Workers must be told about and agree to this change of status (see below).
- Employers have to continue to pay the furloughed workers and the Government will reimburse the employer.
- HMRC is administering the scheme and it has been extended until the end of September 2021
- Those who left employment and are re-employed and subsequently furloughed by agreement are eligible (please see the FAQ regarding redundancy and furlough above).
- Payments may be withheld if claims are based on inaccurate or dishonest information, or are found to be fraudulent. HMRC has put in place an online hotline for employees and the general public to report suspected fraudulent claims.
- The Government has made alternative help available for employers to continue to pay employees while the scheme is set up.
At 10am on the 21st July, we hosted the fourth of our “in conversation…” webinars, this time featuring the ninth largest private bank in the world, Swiss-based Julius Baer. Ward Hadaway partner Emma Digby once again lead the conversation, this time with Luke Downes and Darren Hirst from their investment and relationship teams on “Market outlooks – the before, during and after”. They were joined by Andrew Evans from our private client team to feed in his perspective. This will be of interest to individuals who are thinking about investment portfolios and pension pots, but also businesses keen to see how investors are viewing their sectors, markets and customers.
Luke and Darren took us through how the markets looked pre-Covid, how they responded to the pandemic, and obviously most importantly what we might expect going forwards. They took a look at the sectors that are seeing the quickest bounce-back, discuss which countries are likely to be the most attractive for investors, and where the long term financial gains are expected to be. They also touched on that imminent event, shrouded in mist recently but no less significant – Brexit! What is the expected effect on the markets, and who are likely to be the winners and the losers?
Contractors working for public sector organisations who are deemed employees for IR35 purposes may be eligible to be furloughed provided they are paid via PAYE. In this scenario the agreement to furlough would be made between the contractor’s personal service company (PSC) and the fee payer (usually the agency). The parties would agree that the contractor will carry out no work for the public sector organisation while furloughed and the fee payer would apply for the grant.
At the moment the guidance states that in order to be eligible a claim for furlough must have to have been submitted by 31 July 2020 for a period of 3 weeks between 1 March and 30 June 2020.
Changing to shift working may give employers the opportunity to change hours / pay whilst also focusing work when it is needed. Like the other provisions, this should be done fairly, either across the board or by selecting teams/individuals based on objective business reasons. Imposing without agreement would create significant risk, therefore would require fair selection and consultation.