On 13 November 2020, the Treasury published a fourth Treasury Direction, setting out the legal framework behind the extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (‘CJRS’), commonly referred to as the furlough scheme.
The fourth Treasury Direction extends the duration of the CJRS from 1 November 2020 to 31 March 2021. This latest Direction covers the operation of the CJRS for the period beginning on 1 November 2020 and ending on 31 January 2021. Details of how the CJRS will operate in February and March 2021 will be set out in a later Treasury Direction, and it is possible that it will be less generous than the current rules.
While the rules are similar to the previous CJRS there are some significant differences. These include:
Statutory and contractual notice periods
Claims may no longer be made in respect of employees serving a contractual or statutory notice period starting on or after 1 December 2020. This change comes into force in relation to claim periods starting on or after 1 December 2020. Under previous Treasury Directions it was possible for an employer to make claims under the CJRS to cover salary during notice periods. Employees serving notice periods by way of redundancy, retirement or resignation are all covered by this change.
Publication of details
It is now a condition of making a claim that HMRC will publish details on the internet of those employers claiming under the CJRS. The name, company reference number (if applicable) and the amount of the CJRS claim made by the employer must be published. HMRC may publish an amount that is a reasonable indication of the claim, rather than the actual amount claimed. Employer information will be withheld from publication if HMRC is satisfied that publication will expose the employer or employees to serious risk of violence or intimidation.
Furlough agreements must be in place before the start of the relevant claim period. However, it is still possible for an employer and employee to agree to vary furlough agreements during the claim period (something particularly important for employers whose employees are working reduced hours and claiming under the CJRS for the remaining time).