The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) was introduced back in March 2020, just days before the UK went into a national lockdown. Whilst, initially, it was only due to last for a few months, it has been extended a number of times whilst the pandemic has continued.
The number of people on the CJRS has been in decline as restrictions have been eased. At the peak of the pandemic, nearly nine million people were on furlough, now latest figures from the end of June estimated about 1.9 million people remained on furlough. Some industries, such as aviation, have lobbied for continued support, but to date there is no indication that the scheme will be extended further and thus it will end on 30 September 2021.
As the CJRS closes, there are a number of potential considerations for employers, which we’ve touched on below.
Reintegrating Furloughed Staff
If the latest numbers are accurate, then there are still a high number of employees who remain on furlough as the scheme comes to an end. Many of these individuals may not have worked since March 2020, and others may be working on reduced hours through flexible furlough. Employers will need to carefully consider how to reintegrate these employees back into the workforce.
One of the implications of the CJRS closing is that businesses are faced with tough decisions around the return of staff and redundancies. Some businesses may not be back up to pre-pandemic activity levels or may have made organisational changes during the pandemic.
Employers will need to ensure any decisions around redundancies follow a robust procedure and are dealt with fairly. We have previously issued guidance on redundancy issues here.
Employers should be reminded that under the CJRS rules they are legally required to maintain records regarding the CJRS claims, including their calculations for 6 years, in the event HMRC wishes to audit their claims.
- 14 September 2021 – Deadline for submitting claims for August 2021
- 30 September 2021 – End of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
- 14 October 2021 – Deadline for submitting claims for September 2021