As has been anticipated and widely leaked, the Chancellor has confirmed that Furlough (or officially the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)) has been extended until 30 September 2021. It was due to end on 31 April 2021 but now will continue for another five months. We presume this is to give as many employers as possible, most notably in the hospitality and tourism sectors, time to recover from the economic carnage of the last twelve months and reinstate staff. We are awaiting further guidance but we do know the following;
- 3 March - 30 June 2021: Government will continue to pay 80% of eligible employees' wages (up to a cap of £2,500 pcm) - employers will continue to pay employers' national insurance contributions and pension contributions
- July 2021: Government will continue to pay 70% of eligible employees' wages and employers to top up with a further 10%, subject to the cap and in addition to national insurance contributions and pension contributions
- 1 August - 30 September 2021: Government will continue to pay 60% of eligible employees' wages and employers to top up with 20%, again subject to the cap and in addition to national insurance contributions and pension contributions
- 30 September 2021: CJRS will close down
The issues that have caused much head-scratching in the past, such as notice periods, holiday pay and furlough for those shielding, have not been clarified but we would expect some guidance when the HMRC updates are produced. We presume that nothing will be changed to alter flexible furlough rules as there is no hint of that in the Chancellor's announcement. However, what we have all learnt in the last 12 months is never say never!
One other notable announcement is that the national minimum wage is to be increased to £8.91 per hour from 1 April 2021. The eligibility age has been reduced from 25 to 23 years.
We have produced a toolkit to address the legal and practical issues relating to vaccinating staff, both current and future. It's not quite as simple as the Pimlico Plumbers boss suggests! Please do contact the Employment and Pensions Team at email@example.com to find out more details and/or to purchase the toolkit.