The online claim service for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) was launched today, Monday 20‌‌ April 2020 for online applications. Within the first 30 minutes of its opening, applications for 67,000 employees had been made according to HM Revenue & Customs.

This government’s scheme to help safeguard jobs by supporting businesses to keep up pay went live today. Aimed at addressing the coronavirus pandemic in the UK, the scheme will allow employers to claim grants of up to 80% for their workers’ wages. The major question from most employers is, how does the scheme work and what are the rules?

What is the Job Retention Scheme?

This is a support system that allows employees to keep their job and to be able to receive up to 80% of their salary through government grant. Due to the outbreak of the coronavirus millions are on the verge of losing their jobs and this support allows the economy to remain stable by reducing joblessness and keeping the economy moving.

Announced by the Chancellor Rishi Sunak last month, it will support businesses who are not able to continue paying their employees during the lock-down and would either cut their payment or dismiss them. It protects the economy in the long term by providing wages for staff who are have been placed on compulsory leave, furloughed, due to business closures.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak leading UK government’s daily coronavirus press conference

How much salary is available?

Employers can request 80% of their staff member’s regular monthly salary to a maximum of £2,500.

“Claim for 80% of your employee’s wages plus any employer National Insurance and pension contributions, if you have put them on furlough because of coronavirus (COVID-19).”

Employers can offer the remaining 20% of the salary to the staff member if they are able to do so. However, employers are not obliged to pay their workers the remaining 20% of the salary.

What are the eligibility criteria?

An employee can only be placed on furlough by their employers if they were on PAYE payroll on or before 19 March 2020. Any entity with a UK payroll can apply, including businesses, charities, recruitment agencies and public authorities.

Workers who started job after March 19 are not eligible for the scheme. Employees who were made redundant prior to March 19 are eligible if they are re-employed again and placed on furlough.

It is not available for self-employed and so if you are a freelance worker the best thing to do is to apply for universal credit instead.

If you have more than one job you can request to be put on furlough from all of them.

Even if you are on furlough you can still be made redundant by your employer, but your redundancy pay should remain unaffected.

The Government made it easy to apply and to receive this support, and therefore in case of struggle inform your employer about this opportunity as with it you might be able to preserve your job and receive your salary.  The scheme is aimed at protecting workers and the UK economy in the long term as the lock-down prevents life as normal.

How long will the scheme continue for?

The scheme was initially proposed to continue till end of May 2020, but it has now been extended until June 2020. It can thus be extended if lock-down restrictions are not lifted.

When will the money be paid?

HRMC states that the money is expected to be received into the company’s bank account within six working days from the date the claim application has been made.

What is required?

The government has outlined what is required by the employer to make the claim here. To apply, employers must be registered  You will also be required to provide the employees details and you can see all details on the latest government

To prepare to make your claim you will need:

  • A Government Gateway (GG) ID and password. If you do not already have a GG account, you can apply for one online or or sign in or register.
  • Be enrolled for PAYE online. If you are not registered you can for register here.
  • The following information for each furloughed employee you will be claiming for: Name, National Insurance number, Claim period and claim amount, PAYE/employee number (optional).
  • If you have fewer than 100 furloughed staff – you will need to input information directly into the system for each employee.
  • If you have 100 or more furloughed staff – you will need to upload a file with information for each employee; HMRC will accept the following file types: .xls .xlsx .csv .ods.

Remember, you should retain all records and calculations in respect of your claims. You can find more information on the scheme and eligibility to claim on the website. 

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