Furlough scheme eligibility date changed to 19 March


Employees who started new jobs up until 19 March have now been brought into the scope of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and their employers can make a claim for 80% of their wages.

The change was revealed in HM Revenue and Customs’ fourth iteration of its furlough scheme guidance.

It followed widespread criticism that the furlough scheme left people who changed employers after the previous 28 February cut-off date without any income.

The new eligibility cut-off date also applies to staff who have transferred from one organisation to another under TUPE.

The guidance says: “You can only claim for furloughed employees that were on your PAYE payroll on or before 19 March 2020 and which were notified to HMRC on an RTI submission on or before 19 March 2020.This means an RTI submission notifying payment in respect of that employee to HMRC must have been made on or before 19 March 2020.”

The government had previously attempted to address the loophole that left thousands without pay by stating that employers could re-employ staff who had left after 28 February and furlough them in order to provide them with some income.

The updated guidance also clarifies that individuals who were employed on 28 February, but who were made redundant prior to 19 March, also qualify for the scheme if the employer re-employs them and puts them on furlough.

Meanwhile, a direction issued by the Treasury to HMRC states that an employer must have instructed an employee in writing to cease all work in order for that employee to be eligible under the scheme. Previously, HMRC’s guidance said employees only needed to be notified that they needed to stop working.

Employers will be able to make a claim for 80% of employees’ wages, up to £2,500 per month, under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme when its claims portal opens on Monday 20 April.

If you’re looking for advice on this subject and want to know how the changes will impact your business.

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