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Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) - What should you do when the scheme closes?

Article Date: 29 September 2021

After nineteen months, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) finally closes tomorrow, Thursday 30th September 2021.

Many of you have no employees currently furloughed, and those of you that do may only have a handful.  If you do need to make a claim for September, this must be submitted by Thursday 14th October 2021.  Should you realise you have not claimed enough, you can correct the claim by Thursday 28th October 2021.

Hopefully you will be able to bring any remaining furloughed employees back to work on their agreed terms and conditions, possibly redeploying them to another part of the business if necessary.

If however that is not possible, then you have some important decisions to make about any furloughed employees, namely:

  • Bringing them back on reduced hours – employees cannot be forced to reduce their hours, so if you decided to go down this route your employees would need to agree to this change, as it will impact on the terms and conditions of their current contracts.
  • Bringing them back on short-time work and/or lay-offs – this is an option if your employee’s contract includes a term entitling you to do this, but if it does not, again your employees would need to agree to this change, as it will affect their current contracts.
  • Redundancy – this should always be your last resort, not least because the normal redundancy rules apply to furloughed employees.

And what of the future - will the CJRS make a comeback?

Ultimately it all depends what happens over the next few months, but at present it seems extremely unlikely.

And personally I think one pandemic a lifetime is one too many, so I hope not!

Regardless, however, I expect to still be dealing with the CJRS for at least a couple more years.

Why?

Because the total furlough claims paid out to employers amounted to around £70 billion, of which the National audit Office estimates around 10% could have been over claimed due to error or fraud.

That amounts to around £7 billion, or about one fifth of the current UK tax gap.

Accordingly, the Government gave HMRC £100 million to set up the Taxpayer Protection Taskforce, staffed with around 1,250 officers, to carry out CJRS reviews.

So far, only three clients have been subject to an HMRC CJRS Review. However, as one of the officers carrying out such reviews told me, they expected to be doing such work for a minimum of two years. The CJRS guidance itself asks you to retain copies of your CJRS records for six years.

The good news is that those of you with ASEs fee protection are fully covered should HMRC decide to review your CJRS claims.

As always, if you have any queries on the CJRS, please contact me at martin.redfern@ase-global.com

 

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