UK Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – Updated HMRC Guidance and More

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
If you have any questions on the scheme or need advice, please contact 
Dawn Robertson on +44 (0)131 220 9579 or at

As most people are now aware, the UK Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (the Scheme) has been extended until 30 April 2021. To recap:

  • The furlough scheme is available to businesses that cannot maintain their workforce because their operations have been affected by coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • Affected businesses can claim 80% of an employee’s usual salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.
  • For periods from 1 November onwards, businesses can claim for employees who were employed on 30 October 2020, as long as they have made a PAYE Real Time Information (RTI) submission to HMRC between 20 March 2020 and 30 October 2020, notifying a payment of earnings for that employee.
  • All employers with a UK, Isle of Man, or Channel Island bank account and a UK PAYE scheme can claim the grant.
  • Businesses do not need to have previously claimed for an employee before 30 October 2020 to claim for periods from 1 November 2020.
  • Businesses can claim for employees on any type of employment contract, including full-time, part-time, agency, flexible or zero-hour contracts.

HMRC has issued updated guidance on the Scheme. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions that may help give clarity:

Who can you claim for?

As well as being able to claim for employees on any type of employment contract, including full-time, part-time, agency, flexible or zero-hour contracts, it is now clear that you can claim for the following types of employees as long as they are paid via PAYE:

  • office holders (including company directors)
  • salaried member of Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs)
  • agency workers employed by umbrella companies
  • workers engaged under a contract for services rather than an employment contract (called “limb (b) workers”)
  • contingent workers in the public sector
  • contractors with public sector engagements within the scope of IR35 off-payroll working rules
  • individuals who are paid annually (as long as they meet the necessary conditions)

When can you claim for them?

You can furlough employees if they are unable to work, including from home or working reduced hours because they:

  • are clinically extremely vulnerable, or at the highest risk of severe illness from coronavirus and following public health guidance;
  • have caring responsibilities resulting from coronavirus (COVID-19), such as caring for children at home due to school and childcare facilities closing or caring for a vulnerable individual in their household.

The above clarifies that it is up to the employer to decide whether to furlough these employees and provides much-needed clarification that employers can use the furlough scheme to support employees in these situations. It is also now clear that an employer does not need to be facing a broader reduction in demand or be closed to be eligible to claim for these employees.


The HMRC guidance clarifies that short-term illness/self-isolation should not be a consideration in deciding whether to furlough an employee. Sick employees and those self-isolating can be furloughed for business reasons, if eligible, however. In such cases, the employee should no longer receive sick pay and would be classified as a furloughed employee.

An employee can get statutory sick pay (SSP) if they are self-isolating because:

  • They or someone they live with has coronavirus symptoms or has tested positive for coronavirus.
  • The NHS or public health authorities have notified them that they have been in contact with someone with coronavirus.
  • Some in their ‘support bubble’ or ‘extended household’ have coronavirus symptoms or have tested positive for coronavirus.
  • They have been advised by a doctor or healthcare professional to self-isolate before going into hospital for surgery.

An employee can also get SSP if:

  • they live or work in an area with restrictions in place, including advice to ‘shield’ and;
  • they have been advised to shield because they are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus.

An employee is not eligible for SSP if they are self-isolating only because they are entering or returning to the UK (e.g., they have been abroad on holiday).

Please note that you can no longer submit claims for claim periods ending on or before 31 October 2020.

If you have any questions on the scheme or need advice, please contact Dawn Robertson on +44 (0)131 220 9579 or at

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