Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme Winter Extension Guidance

23rd November 2020

The Government recently announced that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be extended from 31 October 2020 until 31 March 2021. The Government also announced that they will review the scheme in January 2021. It should be noted that, in order to qualify for the extended scheme, employers are not required to have used the scheme previously. Also, the employer’s business can either be still operating or closed.

We have detailed below how the scheme will operate up until the Government review in January 2021.

Which employees can an employer claim for?

Employers do not need to have previously claimed for an employee before the 30 October 2020 to claim for periods from 1 November 2020. Employers can claim for any employees who were employed on 30 October 2020, as long as they have made a PAYE Real Time Information (RTI) submission to HMRC between 20 March 2020 and 30 October 2020, notifying a payment of earnings for that employee.

Employers can claim for employees on any type of employment contract, including full-time, part-time, agency, flexible or zero-hour contracts. Foreign nationals are also eligible to be furloughed. Grants under the scheme are not counted as ‘access to public funds’, and therefore employers can furlough employees on all categories of visa.

The ‘flexible’ furlough element of the scheme, which was introduced from 1 July 2020, will continue in the extension period.

Below are a couple of special circumstances to be aware of.

1. Employees on a fixed term contract

If the employee’s fixed term contract expired on or after 23 September, they can be re-employed and claimed for. This applies as long as the employee was employed on 23 September and the employer made a PAYE RTI submission to HMRC between 20 March 2020 and 30 October 2020, notifying a payment of earnings for that employee.

2. Employees who are made redundant

a)     Employees made redundant on or after 23 September 2020

If an employee was made  redundant, or they stopped working for the employer on or after 23 September 2020 they can be re-employed and put on to the furlough scheme. This applies as long as the employee was employed on September 23 and the employer made a PAYE RTI submission to HMRC between 20 March 2020 and 30 October 2020, notifying a payment of earnings for that employee.

b)     Period ending 30 November 2020

For claim periods relating to November, employers can continue to claim for a furloughed employee who is serving a statutory notice period, however grants cannot be used to substitute redundancy payments.

c)     From 1 December 2020

For claim periods starting on or after 1 December 2020, employers cannot claim for any days on or after 1 December 2020 during which the furloughed employee was serving a contractual or statutory notice period for the employer (this includes people serving notice of retirement or resignation).

Employers will therefore have to make sure that, if they make an early furlough claim for an employee and subsequently decide to give that employee notice of their redundancy, they repay the grant received in respect of the employee to HMRC.

If an employee is made redundant, the employer should base their statutory redundancy and statutory notice pay on their normal wage rather than the reduced furlough wage.

How much can be claimed?

In order to calculate how much can be claimed back the employer must first work out the employees usual hours by looking at the employees contracted hours at the end of their reference period.

1. Reference period for employees employed on 19 March 2020 

The reference period for those on fixed hours is the last pay period ending on or before 19 March 2020. For those on variable hours it is the higher of the average number of hours worked in the tax year 2019/20 and the corresponding calendar period in 2019/20.  This applies to employees who either:

a)     were on the employers  payroll on 19 March 2020 (meaning the employer made a payment of earnings to the employee in the tax year 2019 to 2020 which was reported to HMRC on a Real Time Information (RTI) Full Payment Submission (FPS) on or before 19 March 2020.

b)     the employer made a valid Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme claim for the employee in a claim period ending any time on or before 31 October 2020.

2. Reference period for other employees

For other employees on fixed hours, the employee’s reference period will be their last pay period ending on or before 30 October 2020. For employees on variable hours it will be their average hours in 2020/21 up to the start of furlough.

Once the employer has worked out the reference period for their employee, the calculation of usual hours is performed. Details of how to do this can be found in our article ‘Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme Detailed Guidance For Periods After 1 July 2020’ which can be found on our website here

From 1 November 2020 the amount employers can claim returns to 80% of an employee’s usual salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. However, employers will still not be able to recover employers National Insurance and pension contributions.

When to make claims

Employers can claim before, during or after they have processed their payroll as long as the claim is submitted by the relevant claim deadline. However, employers cannot submit their claim more than 14 days before your claim period end date. For example, the earliest a claim can be submitted for the month of December 2020 is 18th December 2020.

When making the claim:

  • you do not have to wait until the end date of the claim period for a previous claim before making your next claim
  • you can make your claim more than 14 days in advance of the pay date (for example, if you pay your employee in arrears)

Claims do not need to be finished in one session. Employers will be able to save a draft of their claim, however, the claim must be completed within seven days of starting it.

All claims for periods from 1 July 2020 to 31 October 2020 must be submitted no later than 30 November 2020.

Claims from 1 November 2020 must be submitted by 11.59pm 14 calendar days after the month the employer is claiming for. If this time falls on the weekend then claims should be submitted on the next working day.

Claim for furlough days in Claim must be submitted by
November 2020 14 December 2020
December 2020 14 January 2021
January 2021 15 February 2021
February 2021 15 March 2021
March 2021 14 April 2021


HMRC may accept a claim made after the relevant deadline if the employer has a reasonable excuse for failing to make a claim in time and then claimed without delay after the excuse no longer applied.

HMRC will not consider reasonable excuses in advance of a claim deadline.

If employers want to delete a claim in the online service, they must do this within 72 hours of starting it.

Claim periods must not straddle calendar months.

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Stephen Anderson


Stephen Anderson

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