Farewell to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – or is it?.

Article | Kate Millard | 14th September 2021

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It seems a very long time ago that PEM published its first document outlining the details of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) which was set to be in place initially for the three-month period from 1 March to 31 May 2020.

Numerous CJRS revisions and client queries later, the scheme is set to close following 19 possible monthly submissions by those employers using the scheme. Claims for September 2021 must be submitted by 14 October 2021 and any amendments must be made by 28 October 2021.  

Action needed by employers before the scheme closes

If they have not already done so, employers will need to:

  • Review the furlough arrangements and contractual terms for employees still furloughed;
  • Bring employees back to work on their contractual terms and conditions and, if necessary, agree any changes to those terms and conditions with them; 
  • Consider terminating employments as necessary;
  • Review the calculation of their claims under the CJRS and ensure that any amendments are identified and made to HMRC by 28 October 2021, particularly as amounts claimed by employers under the scheme must further be reported to HMRC on their applicable tax return together with confirmation of amounts that they were entitled to claim; and
  • Ensure that all of records relating to the scheme including staff furlough documentation, payroll records, claim calculations and claims made are retained securely in case of HMRC enquiry. 

When making decisions about how and when to end furlough arrangements, equality and discrimination laws will apply in the usual way and employment law advice should be sought as needed.

Employers cannot claim CJRS grants from HMRC for any days an employee is serving a contractual or statutory notice period, including notice of retirement, resignation or redundancy.

So, is this really farewell to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme?

It is estimated that over £1 billion has already been recovered by HMRC from employers voluntarily returning CJRS grants where either employers’ businesses were less affected by the pandemic than expected or where calculation errors have been discovered.  

In the Spring of 2021, the Treasury announced that it would provide HMRC with a further £100 million to tackle fraud with the CJRS. The resulting taskforce aims to have 1,250 HMRC staff investigating CJRS claims and has already launched more than 10,000 enquiries. As more than 1 million employers claimed under CJRS, there is still scope over the coming years for many more enquiries into the operation of the scheme. Therefore, once September is over it will be some years before we can say finally bid farewell to the CJRS.

PEM’s Employment Taxes team advised many clients on the CJRS and their claims and this, coupled with our vast experience of handling HMRC enquiries, ensures that we are best placed to assist you with any enquiries you receive from HMRC.  Alternatively, you may just want some reassurance as to how you operated the scheme before the final deadline for submitting amendments to HMRC. If you do have any queries on the CJRS, please contact us on employmenttax@pem.co.uk.

About the author

Kate Millard

Kate joined PEM in 2008 and was promoted to Director of Employment Taxes in 2011.