Earlier this year, the Chancellor announced that employers would be able to claim a ‘Job Retention Bonus’ of £1,000 for furloughed employees who remained in employment in January 2021. The government has now published further guidance on who is eligible for this scheme.
Employers will be able to claim £1,000 in respect of each eligible employee, provided they have a UK PAYE and all payments are up to date. The payment is a bonus for the employer and does not need to be passed on to the employee. A claim can be made in respect of an employee where:
- They were furloughed at some point and the employer claimed a grant through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (the furlough scheme);
- They remain in employment and have been continuously employed between the end of the furlough scheme and the 31st January 2021;
- They are not under notice as at 31st January 2021;
- They have received a payment of taxable earnings each month between November and January. The relevant months for these purposes are 6 November to 5 December 2020, 6 December 2020 to 5 January 2021, and 6 January to 5 February 2021; and
- The total earnings across these three months must be a minimum of £1,560. This is regardless of any circumstances which may have resulted in reduced pay, such as being on statutory or unpaid leave. However, payments such as statutory sick pay count towards taxable pay.
HMRC will check eligibility based on payments submitted through PAYE to ensure employees have met the threshold. The employer can make a claim for the bonus in a 6 week window between 15 February and 31st March 2021, although it has not yet been confirmed how the claim is to be made. It is anticipated this will be online and further guidance will be provided closer to the time.
Some other important points of note from the guidance are:
- If a claim under the furlough scheme is found to be invalid or is repaid, the employer will not be able to claim the Job Retention Bonus in respect of that employee;
- A claim can still be made for employees if they are subject to the Job Support Scheme once the furlough scheme ends (although to be clear, they must have been furloughed at some stage. While an employee who was not furloughed can be subject to the Job Support Scheme, no claim for a Job Retention Bonus can be made for an employee who was not furloughed).
- If an employee is subject to a TUPE transfer, their employment is considered to have terminated for the purposes of the Job Retention Bonus. Therefore, if employees TUPE to a new employer, a Job Retention Bonus can be claimed only if a furlough claim is made for those employees by that employer. A claim cannot be made if they are not furloughed after the TUPE transfer. Therefore, if a TUPE occurs after the furlough scheme ends on 31st October 2020, the new employer cannot make a claim for a Job Retention Bonus in respect of the employees who transferred.
Government guidance can be found online. Further guidance on how to claim is expected in due course.