If you are an employer struggling to keep your paid workforce as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, by furloughing employees – keeping them employed but not currently working for you – you may be entitled to help from the UK Government of up to 80% of their wage, up to a cap of £2,500/month.

For guidance on responding as an employer to the Coronavirus crisis in general, including different types of support available, see the official advice here.

How to access the Job Retention Scheme

You will need to:

  • identify which employees are ‘furloughed workers’ and notify them, required under employment law;
  • submit information to HMRC about which employees have been furloughed and their earnings, through a new online portal (to be confirmed). This should be based on the previous 12 weeks’ pay, not including sick pay if any.

HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. Meanwhile these employees must not undertake any work for your business, even emails or phone calls. You might want to top up these wages, but this is not compulsory. Annual leave will continue to accrue, and continuity of service, but PAYE and NI will be affected differently.  You can if you wish to avoid this situation insist on employees taking paid leave.

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