Update – 27 March 2020

The Government has announced some further changes to their Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme:

Any organisation with employees can apply, including charities, recruitment agencies and public authorities; however, the government does not expect public sector employers to use it as long as central government continues funding wage costs in the normal way. With agency employees, the scheme is only available for agency employees who are not working.

Employers can reclaim up to 80% of wage costs up to a cap of £2,500 per month, plus (not including) the associated employer NICs and minimum auto-enrolment pension contributions on that wage. Fees, commissions and bonuses are not included.
An employer can choose to top up to 100%, but does not have to (subject to employment law and renegotiating any contractual entitlements).

The 80% of the employee’s salary is based on the higher of
(1) The earnings in the same pay period in the previous tax year;


(2) The average earning the previous 12 months (or less, if they have worked for less).

For an employer to qualify for the payment under the scheme, the employee must have been furloughed for a minimum of three weeks solid. After this three week period the employee can come off furlough. Therefore, this means an employer cannot rotate staff between furlough and non-furlough.

Employees on sickpay or self-isolating cannot be furloughed, but can be furloughed afterwards. Employees who are shielding (these are the high risk people) can be placed on furlough.

Employees on maternity (or similar) leave can continue to draw SMP (or similar) payments. The guidance does not prohibit women on maternity leave agreeing to return to work early and then being furloughed, or electing to change to shared parental leave and then being furloughed.

Temporary workers

If 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 you’ve been employed for less than a year, employers will claim for an average of your monthly earnings since you started work. The same arrangements apply if your monthly pay varies such as if you are on a zero-hour contract.

If you started work in February 2020, your employer will pro-rata your earnings from that month.

Bonuses, commissions and fees are not included as part of your monthly earnings.

If you would like to read the guidance for self-employed individuals, click here.

Now, more than ever people who can’t afford to feed themselves or are too scared to go out need food. Chef Jamie Garcia is asking individuals, companies, clients, friends or anyone who is currently in a position to donate a small amount, whether it’s 10 meals or 5000 meals, he will be providing simple home cooked meals for £3 per meal, and redistributing those meals to those who need them the most in the community.