COVID- 19: November Furlough Extension

French Duncan



Please note - the below was written on 3rd November, before the furlough (Job Retention) scheme was extended to the end of March 2021.

Below our HR team provide a quick review of the current situation and answer some frequently asked questions in regards to the recently announced November extension to the furlough scheme.

Seriously, what is going on?

As HR professionals this seems to be one of the most frequently asked questions of 2020.

Although we have all spent time preparing for and getting our heads round what will happen when the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) comes to an end, originally expected to end on 31 October 2020, the Government made an unexpected and speedy decision to extend this scheme for a further period until 02 December 2020.

There has been some confusion in the last few days, alongside the usual mismatch of government guidance and media coverage that we have come accustomed in recent months, about whether this extension to the much more generous CJRS will be offered in Scotland, or not.  

Thankfully, we are pleased to confirm that the extended 80% contribution CJRS is available for Scottish businesses to make use of straight away.

What about the Job Support Scheme?

The new Job Support Scheme (JSS), which was due to start on 01 November 2020, has now been postponed until further notice.  Whether the JSS will be introduced later in December, or a further extension will be provided to the CJRS still waits to be seen.

What do we know about how the extension to the CJRS will work?

Although there is likely to be further guidance provided in due course and we expect the process to submit claims to take a little bit of time for the government to sort out, we do know that:

  • The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), which was due to end on 31 October, will now be extended until 02 December 2020;
  • The UK government will pay 80% of wages for the hours employees participating in the scheme do not work (capped at £2,500);
  • Employers will need to pay all employer National Insurance Contributions (NICs) and pension contributions;
  • Businesses can choose to top up furloughed employees’ wages beyond the 80% paid by the UK government for hours not worked, but they are not required to do so.
  • Claims can be made for the period from 01 November, right through until 02 December 2020.
  • Part-time, flexible furlough can be used if some work is available on a reduced basis. Businesses will have to cover their wages for any hours worked as well as all employer National Insurance and pension contributions.
  • HMRC have also confirmed to us that businesses ARE ALLOWED to bring back employees who were being (or have been) made redundant, so that is also an option.

Sounds great, but how do I organise this with my employees?

First things first, you will need to check if your employees are eligible for the scheme. You don’t need to have previously placed employees on furlough, so this extension is being viewed as a blank slate to provide support where it is needed.

To be eligible, employees need to have been on your PAYE payroll on 30 October 2020. You must have made a PAYE Real Time Information (RTI) submission to HMRC between 20 March 2020 and 30 October 2020, notifying a payment of earnings for that employee.

As with the previous schemes, it is really important that you agree any changes with your staff in writing and keep clear records on file – HMRC have been clear that they will be auditing claims over the next 5 year period.

Is there further support available?  

What happens next and where we go from here as a country seems to still be up in the air, however, if there is one constant it’s that you can expect things to keep changing – 2020 will be sure to keep you on your toes, if nothing else.

We understand that this uncertainty can be exhausting and makes for a very difficult time as employers. It can be increasingly difficult for businesses to plan when so many different factors can change on a day to day basis. We would recommend that you make use of the schemes available to you, but do not allow these to stop you from making difficult decisions where necessary.

If you are currently about to embark on a redundancy process, please do not hesitate to talk to us for further support or you may find our Redundancy Guide helpful as you consider the options (click here to take a look)., or our recent information about Alternatives to Redundancy as well (click here for that).

To discuss how we can help you and your business, please contact us on 0141 221 2984 or email Louise McCosh, HR Director at L.McCosh@frenchduncan.co.uk.

Our Payroll department are also on hand to calculate and submit claims if you need assistance.  They are incredibly busy (they have been since March!) but they have done an *amazing* job helping hundreds of clients and non-clients in that time, so a big thank you to the entire team! If you think you need their assistance please email covid19@frenchduncan.co.uk.

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