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Update to the Job Retention Scheme – claim periods and flexible furlough

Update to the Job Retention Scheme – claim periods

HMRC have updated their JRS guidance to reflect the anticipated changes.

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HMRC have updated their Job Retention Scheme (JRS) guidance to reflect anticipated changes. The changes appear to be as expected, with the introduction of wording that revises what employers should do when calculating a claim if an employee stops being furloughed, or flexibly furloughed, partway through a claim period.

We reported in our article ‘Job Retention Scheme – claim periods and flexible furlough’ (7 September 2020) that HMRC were expected to update their guidance on calculating JRS claims for the period in which an employee returns to full time work. The expected amendments have now been made.

What’s changed?

The following wording has been introduced to HMRC’s guidance on steps to take before calculating claims and calculating how much to claim:

“Calculating the number of working and furloughed hours for an employee that comes off furlough or flexible furlough partway through a claim period. If your employee stops being furloughed or flexibly furloughed partway through a claim period, when calculating the number of furloughed hours you can claim for, make sure you:

  • Only calculate the employee’s usual hours up to the last day of furlough, instead of to the end of the claim period; and
  • Do not include any working hours after the last day of furlough.

This applies even if your claim period includes days after the employee’s last day of furlough (for example, because you’re claiming for multiple employees and some of them stay on furlough).

You do not need to amend any previous claims submitted prior to 14 September 2020 for these employees. You should use this calculation for any claims from 14 September 2020, for an employee who stops being furloughed or flexibly furloughed partway through a claim period.”

KPMG comment

As initial observations, HMRC’s updated guidance does not specify what ‘come off’ furlough means, nor does it address whether having come off furlough, it is possible in HMRC’s view, to go back on. Similarly, it is not immediately clear whether any employees who might have been disadvantaged under the old approach, could compel their employer to amend historic claims.

We will engage with HMRC with a view to confirming these points, but it is likely that this will be dependent upon the legal documentation and communications which are given to employees.

What does this mean for employers?

In principle, this is a welcome simplification. However, employers must confirm the specific implications for them based on the wording of their own flexible furlough agreements and any other correspondence with employees who return to work.

For further information please contact:

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