Due to the rapid spread of a new strain of coronavirus in the UK, several countries have barred travelers from Britain. Germany, France, Italy, Canada, Israel, the Netherlands, and Belgium announced on Sunday, December 20 that they would suspend air travel from the UK.
Meanwhile, a new shutdown is in effect for most of the country, including the closure of restaurants, pubs, and non-essential retail establishments. Indoor gyms, movie theaters, and personal services establishments have also been ordered to close. The government is also making efforts to curtail non-essential travel as Londoners packed train stations on Sunday. Plans to ease COVID-19 restrictions over Christmas have also been eliminated. Restrictions will remain in place for at least the next two weeks and will be reviewed on December 30.
Employers whose businesses are impacted by the extended lockdown should note that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has been extended until March 31, 2020. The government has suspended the UK’s Job Support Scheme and the UK’s Bonus Scheme to bring back furloughed workers in light of the extension of the CJRS.
As a reminder, the CJRS grant covers up to 80 percent of an employee’s salary for the hours not worked up to a cap of £ 2,500 per month. The employer is responsible for paying National Insurance contributions and pension contributions for the hours actually worked. For example, if an employee regularly works 40 hours per week and is only working 10 hours per week due to COVID-19, the employer pays the employee for the 10 hours worked and the CJRS grant covers 80 percent of the employee’s remaining salary. While most provisions of the scheme remain the same, employers should note the following:
- There is no longer a minimum furlough period or a cap on the number of employees that can be claimed.
- There is no requirement for the employer to have claimed a grant previously or for an employee to have been previously furloughed. However, the employee must have been on the employer's payroll on October 30, 2020, and a PAYE RTI submission must have been made to the HMRC between March 20 and October 30, 2020.
- From December 2020, the HMRC will publish the names of businesses claiming under the scheme and the amount claimed in order to prevent fraud.
FAQ’s regarding the CJRS can be found here.
Employers are reminded to stay up to date on the latest travel restrictions in Europe and globally.