January Update to the Furlough Scheme

January 8, 2021, By

Employees who are unable to work or are working reduced hours as a result of caring responsibilities arising from the coronavirus can be furloughed. New updates to the furlough scheme are explained below.

On Monday 4 January 2021, Boris Johnson announced a third national lockdown in England, dashing any hopes of the easing of coronavirus-related restrictions in 2021.

As part of the newly imposed lockdown, children in primary and secondary schools switched to remote learning until at least February half term. The only exceptions to this are vulnerable children and children of key workers who are still able to have in-person classroom lessons.

Following calls for extra support for working parents having to deal with enforced school closures, HMRC has updated its ‘Check which employees you can put on furlough to use the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme’ guidance (the ‘Guidance’) to clarify that employees who are unable to work, or are working reduced hours as a result of caring responsibilities arising from the coronavirus, can be furloughed.

We have produced a tracked version of the latest changes to the relevant section of the Guidance below.

If your employee’s health has been affected by Coronavirus (COVID-19) or any other conditions

I̶f̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶r̶ ̶e̶m̶p̶l̶o̶y̶e̶e̶ ̶i̶s̶ Your employee is eligible for the grant and can be furloughed, if they are unable to work, including from home or working reduced hours because they:

  • u̶n̶a̶b̶l̶e̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶w̶o̶r̶k̶ ̶b̶e̶c̶a̶u̶s̶e̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶y̶ ̶are clinically extremely vulnerable, or at the highest risk of severe illness from coronavirus and following public health guidance.
  • u̶n̶a̶b̶l̶e̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶w̶o̶r̶k̶ ̶b̶e̶c̶a̶u̶s̶e̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶y̶ ̶have caring responsibilities resulting from coronavirus (COVID-19), i̶n̶c̶l̶u̶d̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶e̶m̶p̶l̶o̶y̶e̶e̶s̶ ̶t̶h̶a̶t̶ ̶n̶e̶e̶d̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶l̶o̶o̶k̶ ̶a̶f̶t̶e̶r̶ ̶c̶h̶i̶l̶d̶r̶e̶n̶ ̶ such as caring for children who are at home as a result of school and childcare facilities closing or caring for a vulnerable individual in their household.

This update now clarifies what has previously been an area of uncertainty and confirms that working parents caring for school children are eligible to be furloughed. We believe that parents assisting primary school children will certainly be eligible. Of course, employers do not have to agree to furlough and may instead wish to explore changing an employee’s hours, unpaid leave or taking holidays as other options.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has now been extended further until the end of April 2021

Most of the eligibility requirements of the scheme remain the same but we note the following:-

  • Employers can still furlough employees for whom RTI submissions have been made between 20 March 2020 – 30 October 2020.
  • There is no longer a requirement that those employees should have been previously furloughed in order to be eligible for the scheme.
  • There is no cap on the number of employees who can be claimed for from November 2020 (as long as they were on the payroll on or before 30 October 2020).

Contact me with any questions

If you require any further information in relation to furlough and the new changes to the guidance, please do not hesitate to contact our team.

You can call us on 0161 969 3131 or fill in our contact form and one of the team will be in touch.