A number of changes have been made to the HMRC guidance on the CJRS in the last few weeks, to highlight various deadlines as well as making minor changes to the method of calculating certain claims:
- The guidance now reflects the deadline of 30 November 2020 as the last day employers can submit or change claims for periods ending on or before 31 October 2020 (when the scheme ends).
- The CJRS guidance has been updated to make clear that a grant can be claimed in respect of the wages of a furloughed employee who has been given notice of termination, covering the period until the employment ends; the initial amendment on 10 July referred only to statutory notice but on 17 July a reference to contractual notice was added to the employer guidance as follows: “You can continue to claim for a furloughed employee who is serving a statutory or contractual notice period, however grants cannot be used to substitute redundancy payments.” A similar amendment was made to the employee guidance and this continues to refer to contractual notice as well as statutory notice; oddly the reference to contractual notice was deleted from the employer version on 3 August (we assume this is a mistake although unhelpfully it has not been corrected in subsequent updates).
- On 28 July the text setting out what an employer should do if it has underclaimed or overclaimed under the scheme was moved into separate guidance and updated to reflect the new Finance Act 2020 provisions providing for recovery of overpaid grants through the tax system and for penalties. The new note provides that employers who have overclaimed a grant and not repaid it must notify HMRC by the latest of either 90 days after the grant was received and 20 October 2020. It would be prudent for employers to review their own position before this deadline to check whether a disclosure should be made. Failure to notify may lead to a penalty of up to 100% of the amount overclaimed; further details are set out here. HMRC state that they “will not be actively looking for innocent errors in [their] compliance approach“. The new guidance also notes that claims relating to the period up to 30 June cannot be amended after 31 July to add an employee that should have been included, but amendments for any other errors resulting in an underclaim will still be permitted after 31 July.
- A couple of changes have been made to the way specific claims should be calculated (for future periods only): from 7 August claims for fixed pay employees who normally work significant overtime should be calculated using the method for employees whose pay varies; and from 14 September a new method of calculation should be used as set out in the guidance for employees whose furlough or flexible furlough ceases part way through a claim period.
- The template for CJRS claims for 100 or more employees now requires employers to state whether an employee returned from statutory leave before being put on furlough.