Since their original announcements, guidance on the various support schemes have seen a number of updates. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has recently seen a major overhaul in its guidance. This clarifies a number of major points that have been queried by our clients. Those wishing to read the full current guidance can find it here. The main updated points we have identified are as follows.
Originally it was thought that the requirement to do no work for the company while furloughed would preclude directors from qualifying. As covered in an earlier blog post, we took the view that simply doing the minimum to keep the company open would not breach this requirement.
This view has now been formalised within the guidance. The key point is still that directors must not do work that would generate income or provide services. Beyond that specific exclusion they can do anything to fulfil their statutory duties that would be “no more than would reasonably be judged necessary for that purpose”.
It was already established that employees who had multiple jobs at the time of the outbreak could continue working for their other employers if one or more of their employers furloughed them. Apart from this, the original guidance had indicated that furloughed employees could only do voluntary work or training.
This has now been clarified to show that furloughed employees can take on a job with a completely separate employer whilst furloughed. This is subject to there not being a clause in their employment contract that specifically forbids them from doing so. This will enable employees to make up a shortfall in their income by taking on temporary alternative employment. Any employee doing so should tick statement C (indicating they have another job) on the new starter form for their new employer.
As not specifically excluded from the calculations, we had already taken the view that overtime could be included in the calculations for furloughed pay. Again, this view has now been formalised in the guidance. Compulsory commission payments can also now be included. This has not been defined in the guidance, but is believed to be commissions paid based on terms written in employment contracts. Discretionary bonuses and discretionary commission payments are still specifically excluded.
Benefits in Kind
Benefits in Kind provided to employees should not be included in the calculations for furlough pay. Benefits provided through salary sacrifice should also be excluded from the scheme. Once a salary sacrifice scheme has been agreed it is not normally possible move out of it freely. Changes can only be made when the employee experiences a “life event”. The COVID-19 pandemic has been acknowledged as a life event for the purposes of salary sacrifice arrangements.
Organisations with public funding
Public sector organisations are generally expected not to furlough as they will be involved in running the country and contributing to the response.
Some private sector organisations also receive public funding to cover their staff costs. Where this funding has continued, the recipient organisations are expected not to furlough their employees. Organisations that receive public funding to provide services, even if that funding is not tied to staff costs, are also expected to continue. Where public funding is not a primary source of income then the normal rules apply.
We will continue to monitor changes to the guidance and provide updates to our clients of any major alterations.