I’m trying to get my head around furloughing my employees. How do I know which members of staff qualify and what information do I need to provide to HMRC?



Stephanie Hammond, director of accounts at Beatons, looks at the finer detail behind the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

The Government has also set out more details around its job retention scheme – which a lot of you have been clamouring for.

The scheme is not live yet – its expected at the end of April when an online portal will be available to employers on the HMRC website that will allow them to claim 80% of the wages for furloughed staff up to £2,500 a month.

To qualify, furloughed staff must have been on the payroll on March 19th, 2020. They can be full-time, part-time, on emergency contracts, on flexible or zero-hours contracts. They can even be staff you had made redundant since February 28th.

Employees cannot be furloughed if they were hired after March 19th or are on sick leave or self-isolating (when Statutory Sick Pay is paid).

HMRC guidance is available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

To claim you need:

  • An employee’s PAYE reference number
  • The number of employees being furloughed
  • The claim period (start and end date)
  • Amount claimed (per minimum length of furloughing of three weeks)
  • Your bank account number and sort code
  • Your name and phone number

One thing you need to be aware of is that it falls down to you to work out the amount you are claiming and that HMRC retain the right to retrospectively audit all aspects of the claim. If you’re struggling, my advice is to enlist the help of an accountant.

You should also be aware that you can submit one claim at least every three weeks and claims can be backdated only as far as March 1st.