On 2 October the Government published further details of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (Job Retention) Bonus announced in July along with the Treasury Direction underpinning the scheme.

The initial announcement set out that a one-off (taxable) payment of £1,000 would be available to UK employers for employees for whom they have made a valid furlough claim, who remain continuously employed through to the end of January 2021 and whose earnings recorded through RTI records were above the Lower Earnings Limit on average for November to January.  The bonus will not be available in respect of employees who have been given notice of termination before 1 February 2021.

Key new points include:

  • The bonus can only be claimed between 15 February and 31 March 2021; further guidance will be published on how to claim.
  • The bonus is payable to the employer and there is no obligation to pass it on to the employee.  Claims can be made for a Job Retention Bonus and under the Job Support Scheme in respect of the same employee.
  • The bonus cannot be claimed for any employees who have not been paid using the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme grant because the relevant grant amounts have been repaid, regardless of the reason for repayment.
  • The bonus cannot be claimed for an employees who are under notice of termination as at 31 January 2021 regardless of the reason for termination. The guidance specifically mentions that those under notice of retirement are excluded, but this will also apply to exclude individuals under notice of termination for other reasons including resignation.
  • The minimum income threshold is a total of at least £1,560 (gross) taxable pay paid during the tax months 6 November to 5 December 2020, 6 December 2020 to 5 January 2021 and 6 January to 5 February 2021, with at least one payment per month. No allowance is made to this minimum requirement to reflect how often employees are paid or whether an employee took leave on no/lower pay during the period.

The guidance reminds employers making redundancies that they will still need to comply with fair redundancy criteria, even if that means reducing the number of employees covered by the bonus (so ineligibility for the bonus should not be used as a criteria for selection).

HMRC has also published examples of how the minimum income threshold will work in practice.

In terms of action points now, the guidance reminds employers that they need to:

  • still be enrolled for PAYE online and comply with PAYE obligations to file PAYE accurately and on time under Real Time Information (RTI) reporting for all employees between 6 April 2020 and 5 February 2021
  • keep their payroll up to date and make sure they report the leaving date for any employees that stop working for them before the end of the pay period that they leave in
  • use the irregular payment pattern indicator in Real Time Information (RTI) for any employees not being paid regularly
  • comply with all requests from HMRC to provide any employee data for past Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme claims.