What is the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme?

Updated: Jun 27

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (JRS), all UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis.

Updated: 27 June 2020

HMRC have now released a step-by-step guide that explains the information that employers need to provide to HMRC to make a claim through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. It also describes the processes involved.

HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers’ wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. HMRC are working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement. Existing systems and software solutions are not yet set up to facilitate payments to employers.


The aim of the scheme, for employees, is to avoid redundancies and protect jobs. All employers in the UK will be eligible to participate in the scheme. For now, employers will continue to pay the furloughed workers, but at the reduced scheme rate. The Government will reimburse the employer.


The Government expects first grants to be paid within weeks. The Government is making alternative help available for employers to continue to pay employees while the scheme is set up.


Who can claim?

Any UK organisation with employees can apply, including:

  • businesses

  • charities

  • recruitment agencies (agency workers paid through PAYE)

  • public authorities

You must have created and started a PAYE payroll scheme on or before 28 February 2020 and have a UK bank account.


Where a company is being taken under the management of an administrator, the administrator will be able to access the Job Retention Scheme.



Who in my business is eligible for JRS?

In order to ensure employees are eligible for JRS, you must:


  • Designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers,’ and notify your employees of this change - changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and, depending on the employment contract, may be subject to negotiation

Furloughed employees must have been on your PAYE payroll on 28 February 2020, and can be on any type of contract, including:

  • full-time employees

  • part-time employees

  • employees on agency contracts

  • employees on flexible or zero-hour contracts

The scheme also covers employees who were made redundant since 28 February 2020, if they are rehired by their employer.

To be eligible for the subsidy, when on furlough, an employee can not undertake work for or on behalf of the organisation. This includes providing services or generating revenue. While on furlough, the employee’s wage will be subject to usual income tax and other deductions.

This scheme is only for employees on agency contracts who are not working. If an employee is working, but on reduced hours, or for reduced pay, they will not be eligible for this scheme and you will have to continue paying the employee through your payroll and pay their salary subject to the terms of the employment contract you agreed.

If you have not already, we would advise that you seek HR support to help facilitate this process

Employers should discuss with their staff and make any changes to the employment contract by agreement. When employers are making decisions in relation to the process, including deciding who to offer furlough to, equality and discrimination laws will apply in the usual way.


To be eligible for the subsidy employers should write to their employee confirming that they have been furloughed and keep a record of this communication. Employees hired after 28 February 2020 cannot be furloughed or claimed for in accordance with this scheme.


You do not need to place all your employees on furlough. However, those employees who you do place on furlough cannot undertake work for you.

Work out what you can claim

The scheme is being administered by HMRC. Therefore, employers must submit information to HMRC about workers who have been furloughed, together with their earnings.

The online service you’ll use to claim is not available yet. HMRC expect it to be available by the end of April 2020.

Full time and part time employees:

For full time and part time salaried employees, the employee’s actual salary before tax, as of 28 February should be used to calculate the 80%. Fees, commission and bonuses should not be included.

Employees whose pay varies:

If the employee has been employed (or engaged by an employment business) for a full twelve months prior to the claim, you can claim for the higher of either:

  • the same month’s earning from the previous year

  • average monthly earnings from the 2019-20 tax year

If the employee has been employed for less than a year, you can claim for an average of their monthly earnings since they started work. If the employee only started in February 2020, use a pro-rata for their earnings so far to claim.

Once you’ve worked out how much of an employee’s salary you can claim for, you must then work out the amount of Employer National Insurance Contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions you are entitled to claim.

Employer National Insurance and Pension Contributions:

All employers remain liable for associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on behalf of their furloughed employees.

You can claim a grant from HMRC to cover wages for a furloughed employee, equal to the lower of 80% of an employee’s regular salary or £2,500 per month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on paying those wages.

You can choose to provide top-up salary in addition to the grant. Employer National Insurance Contributions and automatic enrolment contribution on any additional top-up salary will not be funded through this scheme. Nor will any voluntary automatic enrolment contributions above the minimum mandatory employer contribution of 3% of income above the lower limit of qualifying earnings (which is £512 per month until 5th April and will be £520 per month from 6th April 2020 onwards).

National Living Wage/National Minimum Wage:

Individuals are only entitled to the National Living Wage (NLW)/National Minimum Wage (NMW) for the hours they are working. Therefore, furloughed workers, who are not working, must be paid the lower of 80% of their salary, or £2,500 even if, based on their usual working hours, this would be below NLW/NMW.

However, if workers are required to for example, complete online training courses whilst they are furloughed, then they must be paid at least the NLW/NMW for the time spent training, even if this is more than the 80% of their wage that will be subsidised.


What you'll need to make a claim:

Employers should discuss with their staff and make any changes to the employment contract by agreement. Employers may need to seek legal advice on the process. If sufficient numbers of staff are involved, it may be necessary to engage collective consultation processes to procure agreement to changes to terms of employment.

To claim, you will need:

  • your ePAYE reference number

  • the number of employees being furloughed

  • the claim period (start and end date)

  • amount claimed (per the minimum length of furloughing of 3 weeks)

  • your bank account number and sort code

  • your contact name

  • your phone number

You will need to calculate the amount you are claiming. HMRC will retain the right to retrospectively audit all aspects of your claim.

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