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Q&A on November 2020 furlough scheme

Do staff have to be furloughed for a minimum period?

No, but the minimum claim period will remain seven consecutive calendar days.

Are there still restrictions about what employees can do if they're furloughed?

Yes, these mirror the previous rules. Therefore, for anytime when an employee is on furlough (whether full time or flexibly) they can't work for you or for any organisation linked or associated with you. They can, however, take part in training, volunteer for another employer or organisation or work for someone else (subject to obtaining your agreement if necessary).

How much do you have to contribute?

The government has effectively turned back the clock to August. It will pay 80% of the employee's furloughed wage (subject to the cap of £2,500 per month). Employers just have to pay NI and pension contributions on the full amount paid to the employee (including the furlough pay).

However, the government has said that it may start to ask employers to contribute after January 2021 and will review the position nearer the time. It's therefore possible, that employers will be asked to start paying a percentage of the furloughed wage in February and March.

How much can you claim?

If you've previously furloughed any member of staff, use the CJRS calculations that applied in August 2020 to work out reference pay and usual hours. You also use these calculations for any member of staff you didn't furlough who was previously eligible under the original scheme.

However, if you've not used the scheme before, or are claiming for new staff employed after 20 March 2020, the following rules apply:

• For employees on fixed pay, use the last pay period prior to 30 October 2020
• For employees whose pay varies work out 80% of their average pay calculated from the start of their employment, or 6 April 2020 if that's later, and the day before they start furlough.

Can my employee be furloughed from more than one job?

If your employee has more than one employer they can be furloughed for each job. Each job is separate, and for claims for periods on or before 31 October 2020 – the cap applies to each employer individually. Employees can be furloughed in one job and receive a furloughed payment but continue working for another employer and receive their normal wages.

When can you start to submit claims?

You will be able to claim from 8am on Wednesday 11 November 2020. Claims can be made:

• in respect of an employee for a minimum seven-day claim window
• in advance
• in arrears for the period from 1 November 2020 to 11 November 2020, from the week commencing 9 November 2020

Claims relating to November 2020 must be made by 14 December 2020. Claims relating to each subsequent month should be submitted by day 14 of the following month, to ensure prompt claims following the end of the month which is the subject of the claim. The closing date for claims up to and including 31 October remains 30 November 2020.

The government says that it hopes to pay employers within six working days of receipt of their claims. Agents who are authorised to do PAYE online for employers will be able to claim on their behalf.

Do employees have to agree to be furloughed?

Yes. To qualify for the grant, you must have a written agreement in place between you and each member of staff you are furloughing (unless you've agreed this collectively with a trade union). The agreement should set out the hours the employee has agreed to work or not work and ideally, explain how much the employee will receive by way of furlough pay.

If you intend to claim from 1 November, you need to have an agreement in place by Friday 13 November. If you miss that deadline, the government has said that you'll only be able to claim from the date you reached agreement with your staff. Therefore, you must act quickly if your existing agreements referenced 31 October as the date furlough would end.