And they are very good! Highlights:
1. A new eligibility date of 19th March:
“You must have been on your employer’s PAYE payroll before or on 19 March 2020 and notified to HMRC on an RTI submission on or before 19 March 2020. This means your employer must have made an RTI submission notifying payment in respect of you to HMRC on or before 19 March 2020. If you were employed as of 28 February 2020 and on payroll (i.e. notified to HMRC on an RTI submission on or before 28 February) and were made redundant or stopped working for your employer prior to 19 March 2020, you can also qualify for the scheme if your employer re-employs you and puts you on furlough”
2. No requirement for the contract to have ended early because of Covid-19, only that their business has been affected by it:
“It is designed to help employers whose operations have been severely affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) to retain their employees and protect the UK economy. However, all employers are eligible to claim under the scheme and the government recognises different businesses will face different impacts from coronavirus”.
3. No limit to furloughing such as the end of your contract (allowable up to the end of the scheme):
“If you’re on a fixed term contract your employer can choose to furlough you and claim a grant for 80% of your regular wages up to a cap of £2500 a month. Your employer can choose to renew or extend your contract during the furlough period”.
Important to observe also that this bit of PACT’s guidance which was starting to scare off employers who were planning to furlough their freelancers is not in the guidance:
“That contract must have been suspended due to the impact of Covid-19 with some remaining work still to be done under the contract, and the prospect of returning to complete that work at some point in the future. So, for employees on fixed term contracts, provided that contract commenced on or before 28 February 2020 and provided it continues until at least 1 March 2020 and work was suspended by virtue of the impact of COVID-19 prior to conclusion of the contract then that employee may have their contract renewed or extended for a minimum of an additional 21 days and be placed on furlough leave“.
But this is in the guidance:
“When the government ends the scheme, you must make a decision, depending on your circumstances, as to whether employees can return to their duties. If not, it may be necessary to consider termination of employment (redundancy).”
So you do NOT have to have “remaining work to do”, do NOT have to have the prospect of returning to complete any work and your specific contract does NOT have to have been terminated because of Covid-19. Obviously the eligibility date has now changed too.
No doubt PACT will remove that clause in their guidance before the day is up – good news for all!
Note also this:
“Please use the online support and do not contact HMRC unless it is absolutely necessary – any questions should be directed at your agent, representative or our Web chat service”
If anyone has any doubt about their eligibility, ask HMRC Customer Service direct – they are the authority on the scheme!