Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)

We have produced this guide to provide you with an overview of these measures. Information is still being released and we will update our information for members as soon as it becomes available. Last update: 19th March 2021.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) 

The furlough scheme has been extended from the 31st March 2021 until September 2021. Under the scheme, furloughed employees can work, for any amount of time and any shift pattern. They can then be furloughed for what remains unworked of their usual hoursThey can also be furloughed for all of their hours.  

From July 1st, 2021 the level of grant the government pays your employer is reduced and your employer will need to contribute towards the cost of employing you.  

You don’t need to have been furloughed before to be furloughed now. However, depending on the time period you’re furloughed, you will need to have been on your employer’s payroll at a certain date. Specifically, for furlough claims up until the 30th of April, you’ll have to have been on your employer’s payroll on or before 30th October 2020. But for claims from 1st May until September 30th, you’ll need to have been on payroll on March 2nd 


What can employers claim for under the Job Retention Scheme? 

Your employer can claim under the job retention scheme for any hours you have been on furlough. They must pay you in full for the hours you are working.  


How much can be claimed?  

Your employer must pay you 80% of your wages, or £2500 whichever is lower, each month, for the time you are being on furloughed, in order to be eligible for the job retention scheme grant. They must pay you 100% of your wages for the hours that you are working. 

Your employer can claim a portion of your wages back through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, for the hours when you are on furlough 

Until June 30th, 2021, they can claim for the full 80% of your wages that they are paying you. They must only pay you employers’ national insurance contributions (ER NICS) and pension contributions. There is a cap for the claim of £2500.  

Depending on how much time you are working compared to being furloughed, the cap for what can be claimed through the job retention scheme are different. For example, if you are placed on furlough for 60% of your normal hours and work 40% then your employer can claim up to 60% of the £2500 cap from the scheme.  

From July 1st your employer will need to contribute to the cost of putting you on furlough. You should still receive the same amount– 80% of your wages for the hours not worked.  

 In July, the government will contribute 70% and your employer must contribute 10% for hours not worked. In August and September, the government contribution is 60% and the employer contribution 20%.  


How does flexible furlough work? 

Your employer can ask you to come in for any amount of time on any shift pattern. Your employer can claim from the furlough scheme for any of your normal hours that you are not working.  

You can be furloughed for any amount of time and can be placed on furlough more than once.  


What are the rules about placing someone on furlough? 

To put you on furlough, your employer would need to agree it with you, or reach collective agreement with your union. They will need to keep a written record of the agreement, which they should hold for 5 years. They should also keep records of the hours you are working and the hours you are furloughed.  

Your employer cannot furlough you in a way that breaches employment, equality and discrimination laws.  

You have a choice about whether to be furloughed- as your employer must discuss with you any changes to your employment contract. If you are concerned about any changes or how to engage in the consultation process then you can contact your union rep, or the service centre (0800 389 6332) 

For furlough claims up until 30th April, tour employer can claim for employees who were employed and on their PAYE payroll on 30th October 2020. They must 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. 

For any furlough claims from the 1st May until 30th September, you need to have been on payroll on 2nd March- in other words your employer has to have made a Real Time Information payroll submission on or before 2nd March.  


What can I do whilst on furlough? 

Whilst on furlough your employer cannot ask you to do any work that makes money for them, or any other organisation linked to them. You also can’t be asked to do any work that provides services for your organisation or any organisation linked to them. However, you can take part in training. You can also volunteer for another employer or organisation, and, if contractually allowed work for another employer.  


What rights do I have whilst on furlough? 

You still have the same rights at work, including statutory sick pay, annual leave, maternity and parental rights, rights against unfair dismissal and the right to redundancy payments.  


What happens about holiday? 

You continue to accrue annual leave as normal during furlough. Most workers in the UK are entitled to at least 5.6 weeks of statutory paid annual leave, which they can’t go below.  

You and your employer can agree to vary your holiday entitlement as part of the furlough agreement.  

You can take holiday whilst on furlough. If you are flexibly furloughed, then any hours taken as holiday during the period should be counted as furloughed hours rather than working hours. That means your employer can claim for this time under the job retention scheme. However, your employer should not place you on furlough simply because you are on holiday during a particular time-period. 

In addition, because you are on holiday, you must be paid at your normal rate of pay for your holiday period. That means that your employer will need to top up your pay so that you receive 100% of pay for the time whilst you’re on holiday. 

 Your employer can restrict when you can take your holiday, if there is a business need and the correct notice is given.  

If your employer asks you to take holiday, they must give you notice of at least twice the length of the holiday. For example, if they ask you to take 2 weeks off, they must give you 4 weeks’ notice 

If you can’t take all your paid holiday because of Coronavirus you can carry over up to 4 weeks to the following year, and you will have 2 years to use it. This applies even if you are not a key worker.  


I am a union rep- can I do my duties as a rep whilst on furlough? 

Yes, you can- as long as you are not making money for your employer or providing services to them. 


What happens about my National Insurance and pension contributions? 

Your employer must pay your national insurance and pension contributions for the hours you do not work.  


What happens if I have just got back from parental leave? 

Because your employer can make a new application for furlough under the extended scheme, you can now be placed on the scheme.  

If you received maternity allowance whilst on maternity leave, you need to tell jobcentre plus that you are now receiving furlough pay, as you should not receive both furlough pay and maternity allowance.  


Can I end my maternity leave sooner and be furloughed?  

Yes, you can. However, the guidance about ending maternity leave remains that you must give eight weeks’ notice to end your maternity leave. You won’t be eligible for furlough pay until the 8 weeks is up.  


What if I am still on maternity leave, adoption leave, paternity leave or shared parental leave? 

If you are eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) or Maternity Allowance, then the normal rules apply and you are entitled to claim up to 39 weeks of statutory pay or allowance. Read more about SMP here. 

If your organisation offers enhanced contractual pay to people on Maternity Leave, this is included in the wage costs and your employer will be able to claim this through the Job Retention Scheme. The same principles apply for contractual adoption pay, paternity pay and shared parental leave. 


I have caring responsibilities; can I be furloughed? 

Yes, if you are unable to work because you have caring responsibilities resulting from COVID-19, you can be furloughed.  


What if I am on a zero hours or low hours contract? 

If you are on a zero hours contract; you meet the definition of ‘employee’ and you are earning more than an average of £118 per week under that contract (known as the Lower Earnings Limit), then you will be on the PAYE system. 

The scheme covers everybody who was on the PAYE system by the deadline dateIf you are registered for PAYE this means you are eligible for the scheme. 

If your pay varies and you’ve been employed (or engaged by an employment business in the case of agency workers) for a full year, employers will claim for the higher of either: 

  • the amount you earned in the same month last year 
  • an average of your monthly earnings from the last year 

If your pay varies and you’ve been employed for less than a year, employers will claim for an average of your regular monthly wages since you started work. 

If you have been working for less than a month, your employer will pro-rata your earnings from that month. 


What if I am on a fixed term contract? 

Employees on fixed term contracts can be furloughed. Their contracts can be renewed or extended during the furlough period without breaking the terms of the scheme. Where a fixed term employee’s contract ends because it is not extended or renewed the grant will no longer be able to be claimed. 


What if I have more than one job? 

If you have more than one eligible employer, you can be furloughed by each of them and the cap applies for 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. 


What if I am an agency worker? 

Where agency workers are paid through PAYE, they are eligible to be furloughed and receive support through this scheme, including where they are employed by umbrella companies. 

Furlough should be agreed between the agency, as the deemed employer, and the worker, though it would be advised to discuss the need to furlough with any end clients involved. As with employees, agency workers should perform no work for, through or on behalf of the agency that has furloughed them while they are furloughed, including for the agency’s clients. 

Where an agency supplies clients with workers who are employed by an umbrella company that operates the PAYE, it will be for the umbrella company and the worker to agree whether to furlough the worker or not. 


What if I am a ‘limb (b) worker’ (not an employee)? 

Where Limb (b) Workers are paid through PAYE, they can be furloughed and receive support through this scheme. 

Those who pay tax on their trading profits through Income Tax Self-Assessment, may instead be eligible for the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS). 


What if I am an apprentice? 

Apprentices are eligible for the scheme. As an apprentice, when you are furloughed you can continue to train for your apprenticeship as long as this does not provide services to or generate revenue for your employer. If you are required to complete training while you are furloughed, you must be paid at least the National Living/Minimum Wage for the time spent training, even if this means you will be paid more than the subsidy to your wages for that period. In addition to this, training and assessments have been encouraged to take place remotely, and extensions should be granted, where appropriate, to the timetable for assessments. 


I am serving my notice, having been made redundant. Can I be put on furlough? 

Yes, you can. Your employer cannot use the job retention scheme grant in lieu of redundancy payments. They must still pay you any redundancy amount that you are due. 


I have just recently been made redundant. Can I be re-employed? 

Employees that were employed and on the payroll on 23 September 2020 (the day before the Job Support Scheme announcement) who were made redundant or stopped working afterwards can be re-employed and claimed for. The employer must have made an RTI submission to HMRC from 20 March 2020 to 23 September 2020, notifying a payment of earnings for those employees. 

However, if you’re rehired in March or April 2021, there is a risk you won’t be eligible for furlough from 1st Amy onwards. That’s because you won’t have been on your employer’s payroll on 2nd March 2021.  

Note that this applies not just to staff who were made redundant, but also those who left voluntarily.  


I am sick, or self-isolating. Can I be furloughed? 

If you are sick, or self-isolating as a result of Coronavirus, your employer can furlough you under the Job retention scheme. 

 The government has asked employers not to use the JRS to manage short term sickness and said that it should not be a consideration when deciding whether to furlough employees. However, if they do so for business reasons, you are still eligible, even if you are sick.  

If you are ill, or self-isolating and your employer has not furloughed you, you may be eligible for statutory sick pay.  


What do I need to do to be furloughed? 

You don’t need to do anything; it is your employer’s responsibility to make a claim from HMRC. They are also responsible for discussing any changes to your contract with you.  


Can I earn less than the National Living/National Minimum Wage through the scheme? 

You are only entitled to the National Living/National Minimum Wage if you are working. Therefore, for the hours when you are furloughed you will be paid 80% of your salary even if based on your usual working hours this means you would be earning less than the National Living/Minimum Wage. 


What if I am self-employed? 

If you are self-employed you do not qualify for the scheme. However, you may be able to apply for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. You can find out more about that package here. 

If you meet the relevant eligibility criteria you will be able to access Universal Credit. Apply here 


What other support can I get 

As well as the furlough system you may also benefit from: 

  • Mortgage payment holidays of up to six months. This won’t be recorded on your credit file 
  • Payment holidays for consumer credit products (that means things like car finance and personal loans).  

Remember to apply for these by 31st March 2021 as they have not been extended.