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The CJRS, furloughed staff and Christmas holidays

The CJRS, furloughed staff and Christmas holidays

Following the announcement of more stringent lockdown measures, the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced yet another extension to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). The scheme will now run until the end of April 2021.

Under the extended scheme, claims must be made within 14 days of the end of the month to which they relate (or by the following working day where this falls on a weekend). Consequently, if you are making a claim for December 2020, you must do this no later than 14 January 2021. When making claims for December and January, care must be taken not to fall foul of the rules in relation to claims over the Christmas holiday period.

Furloughed workers and annual leave

Furloughed workers continue to accrue leave as for any other employee. Where you have workers who are on furlough, they remain entitled to their statutory leave entitlement of 5.6 weeks.

Furloughed workers can also take holiday while on furlough; and you can require that they take holiday to use up their annual leave entitlement. Normal rules apply as regards the notice required to take leave.

Holiday pay

Where an employee takes annual leave while furloughed, they must be paid their usual rate of pay. This means that while you can still continue to claim a grant under the CJRS for a furloughed worker while on leave, you must top this up so that they receive their usual pay for the days that they are on holiday.

Bank holidays

A number of bank holidays fall over the festive period. It is important to note that there is no statutory entitlement to time off on a bank holiday, although you can require that an employee takes bank holidays as leave. The days are included within the employee’s statutory entitlement of 5.6 weeks.

If a furloughed employee would usually work on a bank holiday, you can claim the furlough grant for that day. You do not need to top it up. However, if you require a furloughed employee to take bank holidays as leave, you must top up the furlough grant so that the employee receives their usual pay for those days.

Christmas shutdown

You can only furlough employees and claim a grant under the CJRS if your business is adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. If you normally close over Christmas, you cannot simply furlough employees for the period of the Christmas shutdown and claim a grant under the CJRS for this period. Likewise, you cannot furlough an employee because there is less work for them to do over the Christmas period. This is an abuse of the scheme, and where claims of this nature are made, the grant money received must be paid back to HMRC.

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We can help you understand what claims can be made under the CJRS and how to make a claim.