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Employment law for employees & Employment law for employers

Furlough Extension: This week’s important updates

Following the government’s announcement last week that furlough is to be extended until 31 March 2021, the government guidance on the scheme has been further amended and clarified.

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If you have missed our previous furlough extension updates, please click here for the key points of the scheme including how much employers can claim, how the scheme can be used, cash grants for businesses which have been forced to close and employee eligibility. Our first set of updates can be found here.

Crucially, do not forget that all claims for periods from 1 July 2020 to 31 October 2020 must be submitted no later than 30 November 2020. Any claims for that period submitted after 30 November 2020 will not be accepted.

Here are the key updates to the guidance from this week:

Notice periods for claim periods starting on or after 1 December 2020: an employer will not be able to claim for days on or after 1 December 2020 on which the employee was serving either statutory or contractual notice.

Notice periods for claim periods starting before 1 December 2020: for claim periods which commenced prior to 1 December 2020, the guidance states that claims may be made if the employee was serving statutory notice. There is no mention of contractual notice periods, but we will keep you updated if the position is clarified.

HMRC publishing information about claims: from December 2020, HMRC will publish employer names for companies (as well as their company registration numbers) and LLPs for those who have made claims under the scheme from December 2020 onwards. The update to this is that it is now a condition of making a claim that the employer accepts that HMRC will publish this information, including a reasonable indication of the amount claimed. It seems that there will only be very limited exceptions to this, such as if there would be a serious risk of violence or intimidation to that entity’s workforce should such information be published.

Furlough agreements: it is now a rule that furlough agreements must have been entered into before the start of the period for which the employer is claiming. However, it does seem that it will be possible for those agreements to be varied during the claim period should the employer and employee so decide. We would suggest that if a furlough agreement is already in place between an employer and employee from the first iteration of the furlough scheme, this should be updated now.

Time limit for claiming: the government has tightened restrictions on when employers can claim. Claims must now be submitted by 11.59pm 14 calendar days after the month in which the employee is claiming for. If this time falls on the weekend or on a bank holiday the claims should be submitted on the next working day. We would advise that employers do not leave claiming until the last day, but instead implement a system by which claims are submitted as soon as possible after the last working day of the month.

Full details of the government’s further guidance can be found here.

If you have any questions about furlough agreements, the job retention scheme coronavirus planning or any other employment related queries then the Collyer Bristow Employment team is on hand to help.

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Kathryn Burke

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kathryn.burke@collyerbristow.com