by Richard Buckley, Editor, Business Eye

Employers in Northern Ireland who have furloughed staff under the extended Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (from 1 Nov) are being urged to check that all staff have appropriate furlough agreements in place ahead of tomorrow’s (Fri 13 Nov) HMRC’s deadline – or risk being rejected for the scheme. The call comes from the Belfast office of DWF, the global legal business, where employment law experts have been guiding clients through the CJRS minefield over the past nine months With changes being announced at short notice, including the recent extension of the fully funded furlough scheme (1 Nov 20 to 31 March 2021), companies have had to deal with the complexities of ever-changing scheme rules.


Andrew Lightburn Senior Associate, Employment, DWF Belfast explained:

“As we’ve moved through the variations of the furlough scheme the HMRC guidelines for employers have continued to change, but some have come at exceptionally short notice.

“Employers may not be fully aware of their responsibilities for those staff who are to be furloughed under the extended scheme, as any contractual changes, particularly for those who have not previously been furloughed, or whose working hours during furlough have changed, must be agreed in writing by the employee.”

Tomorrow (Friday 13 Nov) marks the final date for employers to ensure that all furloughed employees have appropriate furlough agreements in place and importantly that all furloughed employees have agreed to the process.”

Andrew is concerned that due to the pace of change, some employers may be unaware of tomorrow’s deadline:

“The onus is on the employer to ensure that all employees to be furloughed have agreed and that any changes to their contractual terms eg 20% salary cut or reduced working hours, or indeed no working hours, have been agreed in writing before Friday 13th Nov.

“Many employers may have used the previous furlough scheme and already have agreements in place, but it is essential to check that those agreements satisfy the rules of the extended scheme.

“Failure to do so could result in penalties or the payback of CJRS funds to HRMC in the months ahead. Those who are unclear of their responsibilities should urgently seek advice.”

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Dankse MPU

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