On the afternoon of 15 April the Government published yet another update to its employer and employee guidance on the Job Retention Scheme (the Scheme). The most significant amendment is that the qualifying date, when employees must have been on the employer's payroll in order for the employer to claim for them under the Scheme, has changed from 28 February to 19 March 2020.
This change extends the protection of the Scheme to the thousands of employees who previously were out of scope because they had recently changed jobs. This is an issue that had concerned many of our member companies and we are pleased to see that the Government has heeded calls from employers to assist them in supporting new starters who had joined them in good faith after 28 February.
The Government had previously said that it considered the 28 February cut-off date to be necessary in order to protect against fraudulent claims (such as an employer taking on friends/family simply in order to furlough them and claim furlough pay from HMRC). However, the new eligibility date of 19 March is the day before the Scheme was first announced and it should therefore still be effective to prevent this sort of fraudulent claim.
We have updated our FAQs on furlough leave to reflect this change and the other amendments effected by this most recent update to the Government guidance. We encourage all members to refer to these FAQs as a first port of call for information on the Scheme as we continue to update them on a regular (presently almost daily!) basis to reflect the evolving Government guidance.