Coronavirus: new guidance on job retention scheme

EMPLOYER National Insurance contributions and minimum auto-enrolment pension contributions will be covered under the UK Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, according to new guidance.

Under the scheme, which is expected to be available online by the end of April, employers can submit a claim to HMRC for 80% of furloughed employees’ (employees on a leave of absence) usual monthly wage costs, up to £2500 a month, “plus the associated employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on that wage”. Employers can choose to top-up the salary employer but National Insurance and auto-enrolment contributions on any additional top-up salary “will not be funded through this scheme”.

The new guidance states that the scheme is available for full and part-time employees, employees on agency contracts and employees on flexible or zero-hours contracts – and that all furloughed employees must have been on the payroll since February 28, 2020. The government said the scheme also covers employees made redundant since February 28, 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,” the guidance states.

“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.”

According to the guidance, furloughed employees can undertake training, “as long as it does not provide services to or generate revenue for, or on behalf of your organisation”.

“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.”

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