News added on 23.03.2020



Coronavirus: the government’s Job Retention Scheme

The government has announced the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme which will enable all UK employers, regardless of their size, to be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ and workers’ salaries for those who would otherwise have been laid off, made redundant or had their contracts terminated during the coronavirus pandemic. How do you access the scheme?

The finer details of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which is intended to avoid redundancies and protect jobs, have yet to be published as this is still very early days, but what we know so far is that you will need to:

  • designate affected workers who are temporarily not working during the coronavirus pandemic as “furloughed workers” and then notify your staff of this change. Note that  placing employees on “furlough leave” requires an express term in their employment contracts which would permit this or you will otherwise need individual employees’ express consent to this change of status (preferably obtained in writing by letter or email), but in the current climate employees are highly likely to agree
  • submit information to HMRC about the workers that have been furloughed and their earnings through a new online portal that is being set up - HMRC will set out further details on the information required shortly.

Furloughed workers must carry out no work for their employer. HMRC will then reimburse 80% of furloughed workers’ wage costs provided they remain on payroll, up to a cap of £2,500 per worker per month. This is a grant, not a loan. HMRC is working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement.

The scheme will cover the cost of wages backdated to 1 March 2020 and will be open initially for at least three months - but the government will extend the scheme for longer if necessary. Payments should be available from the end of April 2020 at the latest.

Other key points are:

  • it will cover workers who have already been laid off, made redundant or had their contracts terminated because of the coronavirus, but it’s likely you will need to re-engage them first
  • there’s no requirement for your business to be closed to access the scheme, so you should be able to furlough some workers and not others
  • furloughed workers aren’t entitled to receive a top-up of their wages from you. It’s up to you whether you wish to top up their wages further, e.g. from 80% to 100%
  • employees and workers remain employed/engaged during the furlough period.


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  • Martin Lambert - 2 April 2020

    How do we go about dealing with the pay staff would normally receive for Bank Holidays when we would normally be closed?

  • Duncan Callow - Publisher - 31 March 2020

    The leave letter is available - please contact our customer services department.

    For all other queries please download our free special report

  • Tracey Carnegie - 30 March 2020

    When will letter template be available?

  • Martin Robson - 27 March 2020


    on tax and NI and pensions..see

  • Micaila Vivier - 27 March 2020

    Is there any information on whether employers need to continue pay pension & NI for employees during the furlough period?
    Will leave entitlement still accrue during this time period?
    Will those furloughed have the time count towards their service with the organisation or will this freeze?
    Enhanced sick pay - will employees be entitled to this if they are in the furlough scheme?
    If employees still need to be made after the furlough period but have no employment rights, do they get their full paid notice period?

  • Martin Robson - 27 March 2020

    Does anybody know if holiday that is booked and falls during a period of furlough should be counted as holiday or dropped, and should it be paid at full or reduced rate ? Holiday during a period of sickness can be recovered, but not sure about this situation.

  • Nikki Mason - 27 March 2020

    When will a template letter advising our staff be available please?

  • Brian Steele - 25 March 2020

    We are still open, but work has dropped off. If we want to lay off, say, half our staff, is there any reason why we could not furlough half one week and half the next, and continue alternating - as long as we keep proper records?

  • Angela  Roberts - 25 March 2020

    Apologies but it's too late for letters, we've had to make our own as people are being furloughed now. Can you put answers on aswell to:
    Holidays - I assume they still accrue holiday but what about bank holidays, the 80% won't pay these so I assume they will accrue and get given to employee at the end of furlough?
    Pay - is it basic or calculated based on average earnings?
    Work - can they work for other companies ( I know they can't for the employer)

  • Jenny  Shervell - 25 March 2020

    We really need a template letter as soon as possible