Coronavirus: Further updates and clarifications (21st April)

Claire Vane
April 21, 2020

HMRC Portal

We have been listening to all sorts of seminars and we listened to one on the HMRC online portal which, at the time of listening, had been running for several hours.

On the whole, accountants are surprised and delighted that it is going so well and it had only gone down four times in the period it was in operation.

Only certain numbers are being allowed on at any one time but claims are successfully being made and therefore, it is working.

You have 30 minutes to make the claim to avoid being timed-out, so you need to be aware of that before you start.

Accountants have been using a working days/times basis for calculation, but the examples given by the HMRC were based on calendar days. This is an anomaly that needs sorting out because most people do not work calendar days, but work on certain working days.

The qualification date for employment is as before, 19th March 2020.

The calculator that the site is using is not always accurate so you should always rely on your own calculations.

Only one claim per claim period is permitted and one month is a claim period.

You have to have a national insurance number to make a claim.

SSP and Furlough

HMRC has updated its statutory payments manual and we now know for certain that employees do not qualify for SSP if they are on furlough.

The Government has stated in the Statutory Sick Pay (General) (Coronavirus Amendment) (No. 3) Regulations 2020, that individuals are incapable of working if they are unable to work because they fall within the extremely vulnerable category and have been advised to shield. Retrospection does not apply.

Annual Leave

HMRC Employee’s Guidance (but not the Employer’s guidance) now states that it is possible to take annual leave while on furlough, with the employer having to ‘top up’ to 100% of normal pay.

It is silent on whether an employer can force an employee to take annual leave, but ACAS have taken the stance that employers have the right to ask employees to take holiday, provided they tell them at least twice as many days before as the amount of days they need people to take. For example, if they want to them to take 5 days annual leave, they should tell everyone at least 10 days before.

Furlough: Do you need the Employee’s Written Agreement?

There is some confusion around the answer to the question of:

Does an employer need an employee’s written agreement to doing no work under their employment contract before they can make a valid claim under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme?

The reason there is confusion is because the Treasury’s Direction to the HMRC says yes. HMRC say that an employee’s written agreement is not necessary:

‘To be eligible for the grant, employers must confirm in writing to their employee confirming that they have been furloughed. If this is done in a way that is consistent with employment law, that consent is valid for the purposes of claiming the CJRS. There needs to be a written record, but the employee does not have to provide a written response. A record of this communication must be kept for five years.’

So, in practice, HMRC seems content to accept claims for reimbursement of 80% of salary without requiring evidence of the employee’s written agreement.

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Claire Vane

Claire is the Managing Director and Founder of Integrated Resources. She is passionate about releasing potential in individuals and organisations.

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