April 17, 2020

Furlough Scheme Cut-off Extended to 19 March

On 15 April 2020, the Government issued detailed guidance on how employers can claim ‘furlough’ pay for employees who are temporarily not working. This included an extension to the furlough scheme cut-off date.

The date at which employees must be on their employer’s payroll to qualify, has been pushed back from 29 February 2020 to 19 March 2020.

While this plugging of the loophole that previously excluded both ‘new’ employees and those made redundant in early March is broadly welcomed, the wording of the announcement has created confusion.

Furlough Scheme Cut-off: The New Rules

The rules now state that to be eligible for furlough payments, an individual employee must appear on their employer’s RTI (Real Time Information) submission to HMRC on or before 19 March 2020.

This RTI submission is made after a payroll is run, and therefore there’s not much change for most monthly paid staff: anyone starting work in the latter half of February will be on the submission.

The difficulty comes with the newer employees that the announcement appeared to want to help – in particular weekly paid staff. Because the RTI is submitted retrospectively, employers are likely to find that employees genuinely employed by the new cut-off date will not have appeared on the RTI submission until perhaps the first week of April.

Likewise, employees with any kind of pay period who were re-employed during March risk having their hopes raised and then dashed again depending on whether their employer submitted the RTI before the deadline.

Urgent questions are being asked to clarify the government’s intention and whether the primary date is the date of employment and inclusion on payroll, or the date of the RTI submission.

With the HMRC portal due to open within in a few days, watch this space for urgent updates. You can find out more about the Job Retention Scheme by visiting our popular FAQs blog post.

*On Tuesday 12 May 2020, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced his long-awaited plan for the future of the Job Retention Scheme – ‘furlough’.  To the surprise of many who were expecting a reduction in the level of support, the scheme has been further extended to the end of July 2020 in its current form. It will then continue until October with amendments. Details are still awaited – and indeed are still being worked out – but we do know that employers will be expected to share the costs from August onwards. It’s also widely expected that the later stages of the scheme will support employers to transition furloughed workers back into the workplace.  The current scheme is for ‘full time’ furlough only, and businesses gradually picking up at the end of the summer will welcome the opportunity to increase working hours gradually while still having support for pay costs.*

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About the author

Audrey Robertson

About the author

Audrey Robertson

HR Consultancy & Insurance Manager, Audrey, has a strong background in HR, Employment Law and related insurances in a career spanning over 15 years leading teams in-house and as a consultant supporting clients across retail, education and the B2B sectors. At Moorepay, Audrey heads up the Policy & HR Consultancy team as well as the insurance claims department. With a strong commitment and investment in employee wellbeing, having studied counselling and coaching, Audrey is a qualified Mental Health First Aider and supports our staff on-site.

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