Furlough and Christmas

27 November 2020 | COVID

We’ve heard a few horror stories about local companies and their approach to furlough. Thankfully, none that we’re involved with!

Examples have included:

  • furloughing staff when the building has a leak due to heavy rain and staff couldn’t perform work that day.
  • Being put on furlough for short one day holidays that the employees had already applied for
  • Being furloughed during their annual 2-week shutdown at Christmas so the employer can claim 80% of their wages back.

This is not what the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is for!

CJRS guidance states that employees should not be placed on furlough simply because they are on holiday for that period (see paragraph 4 under ‘Holiday Pay’ at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme). Furloughing employees so that you can issue a CJRS claim for an employee’s holiday would therefore breach CJRS rules.

The purpose of the scheme is ‘to continue the employment of employees whose employment activities have been adversely affected by the coronavirus’. Paragraph 2.5 of the third Treasury Direction also specifically prohibits CJRS claims that are “abusive” or “otherwise contrary to the exceptional purpose of the CJRS” Read HERE

Employers should be getting advice on all aspects of furlough.

Remember, from 1 December, details of employers claiming furlough will be published and employees can continue to report employers who are breaking the rules.

The following information will be published on GOV.UK:

  • the employer name
  • an indication of the value of the claim
  • the company number for companies and Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs)

HMRC will also be improving the information available to employees by including details of claims made. They will also receive information for claim periods starting on or after 1 December 2020 in their Personal Tax Account on GOV.UK

HMRC will check claims, and payments may be withheld. They may also need to be paid back if a claim is found to be fraudulent or based on incorrect information. Employees can report fraud to HMRC if their employer is abusing the scheme. This could include:

  • claiming on your behalf and not paying you what you’re entitled to
  • asking you to work whilst on furlough
  • making a backdated claim that includes times when you were working

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