Backhouse Jones Watermark

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme online portal opens 20 April 2020

16 April

Senior reps from HMRC appeared before parliamentary select committee on 8 April and provided further information in relation to CJRS and claims to be made under the online portal.

The below is a summary of the information provided by HMRC and is subject to change;

  • The online portal will be open for employers to use on 20 April 2020.
  • Live testing started yesterday
  • HMRC are confident that they can cope with a large volume of claims and have conducted tests for 450,000 applications per hour.

Once the system is up and running it is anticipated that the first payments should be made within 4-6 working days of the submission.  So, if the system goes live on the current proposed date of 20 April 2020 then initial payments should be received in and around 30 April 2020.

A guidance document is being produced (within the week) in order to get employers ready to submit by 20 April 2020.  Please watch the Coronavirus Resource Hub for further information on this.

A further update dated 17 April can be found here.

Further information;

  • It is suggested one claim can be made per pay reference period (weekly or monthly)
  • A Company can make the claim up to 14 days ahead.

The government announced on 15 April 2020 that the eligibility cut-off date for Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is to be extended to 19 March 2020 (formerly the date was 28 February 2020).  The implications of this is that potentially, thousands more workers can be furloughed.

HMRC are concerned about the system being abused and will put in place a hotline for employees to report fraud; employers who require staff to work whilst they are on furlough.  If evidence is provided to HMRC that the rules have been breached, CJRS may not be paid out.  This could encompass all employees claimed for under the scheme, so employers need to be cautious to apply furlough as outlined in government guidance.  Depending on severity of the employers conduct, fraudulent claims may result in criminal proceedings being instigated.

HMRC intend to conduct an audit of claims submitted and will have the ability to check for a substantial period.  Employers should retain furlough letters for at least 5 years and other evidence to prevent any future enforcement from HMRC.

Employers are therefore advised to seek legal advice at all times.  To download Backhouse Jones’ PDF of the above points, click here or to read our guide to furlough, SSP and to access the full guidance document, click here.

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