How will coronavirus affect domestic employers?
We are monitoring Government announcements daily and will update the information below as and when changes happen. Please read our customer FAQs for the latest coronavirus (COVID-19) news and advice related to domestic employers.
*You can read our Covid-19 customer communications (emails sent to Stafftax customers as of 19/03/2020) here.
Our FAQS are divided into:
- Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and the furlough process
- General SSP and Coronavirus SSP Rebate Scheme queries
- Other Coronavirus related FAQs
- Furlough Portal
1. Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and the furlough process
Can my employee come back part-time but still be part of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme?
From 1st July 2020, employers will be given the flexibility to bring furlough employees back part-time. Employers must agree with their employee any new flexible furloughing arrangement and confirm that agreement in writing. Employers will:
Be responsible for paying the wages, tax, and NICs of their employees for the hours they do work but can still claim the grant for the hours their employees are not working.
- Need to report hours worked and the usual hours an employee would be expected to work in a claim period.
- When claiming the CJRS grant for furloughed hours, employers will need to report and claim for a minimum period of a week. This is a minimum period and those making claims for longer periods such as those on monthly or two weekly cycles will be able to do.
Can I still apply for funding through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme?
The scheme will close to new entrants from 30th June. From this point onwards, employers will only be able to furlough employees that they have furlough for a full three-week period to 30th June.
This means that the final date by which an employer can furlough an employee for the first time will be the 10th June, in order for the current three-week furlough period to be completed by 30th June.
Employers will have until 31st July to make any claims in respect of the period to 30th June. From 1st July, the scheme will only be available to employers that have previously used the scheme in respect of employees they have previously furloughed.
From 1st July, claim periods will no longer be able to overlap months, employers who previously submitted claims with periods that overlapped calendar months will no longer be able to do this going forward. This is necessary to reflect the forthcoming changes to the scheme.
The number of employees an employer can claim for in any claim period cannot exceed the maximum number they have claimed for under any previous claim under the current CJRS.
How long will the Government continue to pay 80% of my employer’s wages as well as National Insurance and Pension contributions?
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will remain in its original form until 31st July 2020. From then on, the job retention scheme will be slowly tapered to reflect that people will be returning to work. From August, businesses will be asked to contribute towards their employee’s salary, but crucially individuals will continue to receive that 80% of salary covering the time they are unable to work.
Do I have to start contributing to the 80%?
Employers have been asked to start contributing from 1st August. Therefore Employers can still receive 80% of their employee's salary (plus Employers National Insurance and pension) until 31st July.
Please see below a guide for how the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will change over the coming months.
June and July: The government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 as well as employer National Insurance and pension contributions. Employers are not required to pay anything.
- August: The government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500. Employers will pay employer National Insurance and pension contributions.
- September: The government will pay 70% of wages up to a cap of £2,187.50. Employers will pay employer National Insurance and pension contributions and 10% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500.
- October: The government will pay 60% of wages up to a cap of £1,875. Employers will pay employer National Insurance and pension contributions and 20% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500.
What if I’m already topping up my employee salary to 100%?
As with the previous scheme, employers are still able to choose to top up employee wages above the scheme grant at their own expense if they wish but this will need to be in addition to the contributions expected of you as part of the Job Retention Scheme.
What happens if I cannot afford to make any contributions to my employer’s salary or bring them back part-time as part of the flexible furlough?
Part-time furlough will work for many employers, however, there will, unfortunately, be some that will need to consider the redundancy option. If you are going to make your employee redundant, please do not use the furlough portal. Get in touch with our HR team who will be able to advise on your options based on your employee's length of service, contract, and circumstances.
Can my employee come back to work?
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the act of furloughing an employee is on the basis that either an employer can no longer provide work for them due to financial strains or if the employer cannot allow an employee to work due to any coronavirus related reason, e.g. having been furloughed themselves, somebody in the household is classed as vulnerable so is shielding.
So regardless of this new advice, some employers will need to keep their employees on furlough.
If the above no longer applies then you should end the furlough through our furlough portal.
If you still cannot afford for your employee to return to work, or you cannot allow your employee to work due to any coronavirus related reason, then you can continue this employee's furlough.
Does the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme extension change anything?
It was announced on the 12th of May that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will continue until the end of October.
The scheme will continue in its current form (paying 80% of an employees salary, capped at £2,500) until the end of July and the changes to allow more flexibility will come in from the 1st of August. The Chancellor has stipulated that “From the start of August, furloughed workers will be able to return to work part-time with employers being asked to pay a percentage towards the salaries of their furloughed staff”.
The employer payments will substitute the contribution the government is currently making, ensuring that staff continue to receive 80% of their salary, up to £2,500 a month.”
We don’t have any further details about what will change from 1st August however we expect more information to be published at the end of May. As soon as we receive more details we will update this page/message our customers directly.
If you have already furloughed your employee, and wish to continue, then you don’t need to do anything until you’re ready to end their furlough period.
If you haven’t yet started the furlough process, then login to our Furlough Portal where you can tell us that you would like to furlough your employee and find out how to reclaim.
How do I end furloughing my employee?
You can end furloughing your employee through our furlough portal. Simply log in, go straight to step six and complete the relevant information. You don’t need to be logged in to end an employee furlough, you just need your payroll number, your email address that’s on our system, and your name.
Can Domestic Employers use the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme which pays 80% of furloughed workers wages (up to £2,500/month)?
Yes, domestic employers are eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, provided you have paid your employee through PAYE, sent HMRC an RTI submission notifying a payment in respect of the employee on or before 19 March 2020 and have a UK bank account. HMRC will reimburse 80% furloughed workers gross wage costs (up to a cap of £2,500 per month).
For the latest official guidance on the furlough worker scheme, please visit this page.
I want to furlough my employee, what do I need to do?
Login to our Furlough Portal where you can tell us that you would like to furlough your employee. The portal will also detail the furlough process and how to reclaim.
My payslip(s) do not have the furlough applied, what shall I do?
We have a high volume of demand for furlough workers and we are working as quickly as possible to apply furlough and reflect this on the payslips. If you have been in touch and provided us with all the information required to furlough your employee and received confirmation back from us, we are in the process of applying furlough to your payslips and will be in touch when your payslip is updated.
Are Tax, National Insurance and pension contributions reclaimable under the furlough agreement?
Yes, The Coronavirus Job Retention Schemes allows you to reclaim 80% of your employee’s gross monthly wage costs, capped at £2,500 a month. In addition, you can claim for the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and Employer pension contributions (3%) on that subsidised furlough pay.
How do I calculate what 80% of my employee’s salary would be?
Login to our furlough portal where you can request the reclaim amount. We will be able to tell you the total amount that should be paid to your furlough employee, the National Insurance Contributions and the Pension Contributions (up to 3%). You will need this information to reclaim.
Alternatively HMRC have set-up a calculator, which you can access here.
Can I top up my employee’s salary to 100%?
Yes you may pay your employee their full salary but please note that you can only reclaim back the 80% via the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and that you would be absorbing the costs of the additional 20%.
How often do I need to make a claim?
There are no fixed rules on what period you can claim for other than the claim period has to be a minimum of 3 weeks and can’t be more than 14 days in advance.
You have two choices: You can either make multiple claims whilst your employee is on furlough (so you get paid quicker) or if you would prefer you can make one claim after you have stopped furloughing your employee, in which case you will get paid one amount at the end of the furlough period.
If you do decide to make multiple claims as you go along you can only make 1 claim at a time. Make sure your claim periods do not overlap otherwise you will end up claiming more than you are entitled to. If you do decide to make multiple claims, we suggest that you align it with your pay periods to make managing your claims easier.
For example, if you pay your employee monthly and furloughed them on the 23rd March then we would recommend you make your first claim period 23rd March to the 30th April. Your next claim period would then be 1st May to 31st May and so on. Remember you can only make one claim at a time and you can’t make a claim more than 14 days in advance of the end of the claim period.
If you pay your employee weekly the pay periods are as follows:
• 1st March - 3rd April
• 4th April - 1st May
• 2nd May - 5th June
• 6th June - 3rd July
If your employee started mid-way through March (e.g. 23rd March), your first claim can be from 23rd March through to the end of the next pay period which is the 1st of May.
When do I get repaid the money for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme?
HMRC says applicants can expect a payment to be in their bank account within six working days after submission of the claim. However, it adds that you should allow at least 10 working days for the payment to arrive before raising a query via the helpline due to high call volumes at its call centres.
If I’ve reduced an employee’s hours (or their pay) can I claim for them under the Job Retention scheme?
No, the furlough scheme is applicable for employees who are not working at all. If as a result of the coronavirus, you have reduced or amended your employee’s hours, they would not be eligible for furlough funding as they are still working albeit on reduced hours and/or pay.
I’m having trouble setting up my HMRC PAYE account.
HMRC have several different online accounts (which adds a level of complexity) however the type of account you need to reclaim furlough, is a HMRC online 'Business Tax Account' as this will give you the option to add 'PAYE for employers'.
We suggest you set-up a new HMRC online account, using the details accessible through our furlough portal. Once you are logged in to your HMRC account it should state at the very top 'Business tax account'.
If you continue to experience difficulties setting up a PAYE online account, you will need to contact ‘HMRC Online Services’ who can be called on 0300 200 3600.
I’ve received an email saying I need to change my employee from a net to a gross salary. How do I calculate the difference in pay?
As the Coronavirus Job retention scheme to claim up to 80% of your employee's salary, has been set up based on a gross salary, we are calculating the conversion for net salaries and will be processing employee's salary on a gross basis for the period they are on furlough. The overall amount that you will be able to claim will not be impacted by the change in processing the salary on a gross basis.
You will need to gain consent from your employee, and we have a template you [link] and your employee can sign.
Once this has been completed, please let us know and we can make the temporary change to a gross agreement until the furlough period finishes (or before if you decide) which is currently set to finish on the 30th June 2020.
I applied for a PAYE account but didn’t see anything regarding an activation code. Do I need one?
Some of our customers have been able to proceed with their claims without an activation code. We suggest trying to continue with your claim to see if this is the case for you. If not, and after the 10 days has passed, you should raise a query via the HMRC helpline.
The 80% calculations on my employee’s payslip is different to what the HMRC calculator is telling me. Which one should I base my claim off?
There should be no difference, therefore we would recommend you re-calculate making sure all the correct dates are entered and if the answers still do not match then submit a calculation request via the Furlough Portal.
The HMRC calculator can’t calculate my figures when I top up my employee salary to 100%. What should I do next?
Continue paying your employee the net salary on their payslip. To get the correct claim amount for 80%, work through the HMRC calculator and choose ‘No’ to the question at the end of the HMRC calculator which asks about topping up to 100%. It will return the figures you need to claim.
I’m topping up my employee’s salary to 100%, do I need to let you know that they’re furloughed, and do you need to adjust their payslip, or can I just claim the 80% back from the government?
If you are covering the difference between the government grant and the normal salary, then you will not need to make any changes however as we will need to show this separately on the payslips, you should still complete step one and step two in our furlough portal.
What happens to pension payments under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme?
You can claim under the scheme for the minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions, in addition to the 80% of salary. You can’t claim for pension contributions you make because you’ve chosen to top-up your employee’s salary.
Whether the employee continues to make pension contributions while furloughed is their choice. You may wish to communicate with them and suggest a pension payment holiday, if the pension scheme allows this. Of course, if the individual opts-out of pension payments then you will not be able to claim the corresponding minimum automatic enrolment contribution under the scheme.
What about employees on irregular salaries or variable hours who are placed on furlough?
Irregular salaried employees' furlough pay can be based on a previous earnings average. For employees who have been employed for a full 12 months prior to the claim, the amount is the highest of:
• the same month’s earning from 2019; or
• average monthly earnings from the 2019-20 tax year.
For employees who have been employed for less than 12 months before the claim, the employer bases their 80% on an average of actual monthly earnings since the employee's start date. If the employee only started part way during February or March, the employer will have to make a pro-rata calculation based on their earnings so far.
Does an employee still accrue holiday whilst on furlough?
The Government guidance has confirmed that workers continue to accrue annual leave during furlough and that they are entitled to take leave during this time.
If your employee is taking holiday, their salary should be topped up to 100%. 80% of this can be made up of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme funding but the other 20% would have to be funded by the employer.
My employee is pregnant and is classed as vulnerable so is self-isolating. What are our options?
If the employee is classed as a vulnerable person or is shielding, they would be entitled to furlough leave.
If they are not , and just does not want to attend the workplace due to concerns around her own health and safety, it would be unpaid or taken as holiday. However, should the employee provide a fit note from a GP, Statutory Sick Pay which is £95.85 per week, would apply.
Please note that it is at your discretion should you wish to pay above the statutory minimums unless otherwise specified in the contract.
If you still require an employee during your normal nannies isolation period, you may take on another employee however, the employee would need to be employed on a temporary basis. For StaffTax customers, your HR advisors can draw up a contract to reflect this.
Can my employee still work for me whilst being furloughed?
If you furlough an employee, then they are not allowed to undertake work for you. This should be communicated to them when they are furloughed. You or they shouldn’t try to get around this by reassigning different types of work tasks to them during their furlough, for example, or assigning them a different role.
The government says the ban on working for your organisation during furloughing includes “providing services or generating revenue”. However, if their employment contract allows it, the employee is free to undertake paid work for other employers or individuals at their discretion – either existing employment they were already undertaking alongside their employment with you, or new work.
It’s possible some individuals may end up being furloughed by more than one employer.
Your employees can take part in training while furloughed, or volunteer work – although the work or training can’t provide services to your organisation, or generate revenue, or be on behalf of your organisation.
If this continues can employees go on and off furlough?
Yes, if this continues employees can go on and off furlough. Employees must be furloughed for at least three weeks, so, employees can be moved in and out of furlough on a three week or longer basis.
What will happen when the scheme ends?
It was announced on the 12th of May that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will continue until the end of October.
When the scheme ends, you must then make the decision as to whether employees can return to their previous duties and pay. If not, you may then need to consider making them redundant or agreeing to a reduction in pay and hours with them.
I’m thinking of making my employee redundant, will the CJRS funding cover the redundancy pay?
No, you will need to fund any redundancy related payment yourself. Please email StaffTax HR at firstname.lastname@example.org who will be able to talk you through the process and provide you with the correct documentation.
I have tried to make a furlough claim, but HMRC have informed me that I am not eligible as my account wasn’t set up in time, what can I do?
Please email email@example.com with your payroll number and a brief explanation and a member of our team will look into this for you.
I will be ending my employees furlough leave shortly and have requested that they work reduced hours. Is it possible to claim back their salary from HMRC for their reduced hours?
No, if your employee is returning to work on reduced hours, you will need to fund this salary yourself. Please note that you will need to get your employees agreement to work on reduced hours and therefore pay.
2. General SSP and Coronavirus SSP Rebate Scheme Queries
What is the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme?
The SSP Rebate Scheme is a scheme designed to cover sick pay, for up to 2 weeks, starting from the first qualifying day of sickness, if an employee is unable to work because they either
● have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms
● cannot work because they are self-isolating because someone they live with has symptoms
● Are shielding and have a letter from the NHS or a GP telling them to stay at home for at least 12 weeks
When does the new Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme start?
The online service you use to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)was launched on the 26th May 2020.
Who can use the new SSP scheme?
You can use the scheme as an employer if:
● you’re claiming for an employee who’s eligible for sick pay due to coronavirus
● you have a PAYE payroll scheme that was created and started on or before 28 February 2020
● you had fewer than 250 employees on 28 February 2020
You can claim back from both the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme for the same employee but not for the same period of time for that employee.
The scheme covers all types of employment contracts, including:
● full-time employees
● part-time employees
● employees on agency contracts
● employees on flexible or zero-hour contracts
● fixed term contracts (until the date their contract ends)
How do I claim Statutory Sick Pay through the Rebate Scheme?
To use the online service, you will need the Government Gateway user ID you got when you registered for PAYE Online. If you have not registered for a PAYE online account then we suggest you visit step 3 in our furlough portal for a step by step guide on how to do this.
You will also need:
● your employer PAYE scheme reference number - this information is accessible through the furlough portal.
● contact name and phone number
● UK bank or building society details (only provide bank account details where a Bacs payment can be accepted)
● the total amount of coronavirus SSP you have paid to your employees for the claim period - this should not exceed the weekly rate that is set - this information can be found on your employees latest payslip or by using the SSP calculator to work out the actual amount you’re entitled to claim.
● the number of employees you are claiming for
● the start date and end date of the claim period
You can claim for multiple pay periods and employees at the same time. The start date of your claim is the start date of the earliest pay period you’re claiming for. The end date of your claim is the end date of the most recent pay period you’re claiming. We also have a step-by-step claim guide to help you through the process.
Is long term sickness covered under the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme?
Unfortunately, the repayment will only cover up to 2 weeks starting from the first qualifying day of sickness, is an employee is unable to work because they either:
a. have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms
b. cannot work because they are self-isolating because someone they live with has symptoms
c. Are shielding and have a letter from the NHS or a GP telling them to stay at home for at least 12 weeks
Under long term sickness, if your employee is still sick, you will need to continue to pay sick pay up to 28 weeks, but you will only be able to reclaim 2 weeks of it through the Rebate Scheme.
What are the periods I can claim Statutory Sick Pay for under the new SSP Rebate Scheme?
You can claim for periods of sickness starting on or after:
● 13 March 2020 - if your employee had coronavirus or the symptoms or is self-isolating because someone they live with has symptoms
● 16 April 2020 - if your employee was shielding because of coronavirus
What is the weekly rate of Statutory Sick Pay under the new SSP Rebate Scheme?
The weekly rate was £94.25 before 6 April 2020 and is now £95.85.
You can pay your employee more than the statutory amount but you can only claim up to the weekly rate paid.
Use the SSP calculator to work out the actual amount.
Does my employee have to supply a doctor's note to qualify for the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme?
Employees do not have to give you a doctor’s fit note for you to make a claim. But you can ask them to give you either:
● An isolation note from NHS 111 - if they are self-isolating and cannot work because of coronavirus
● the NHS or GP letter telling them to stay at home for at least 12 weeks because they’re at high risk of severe illness from coronavirus
Do I need to keep any records of statutory sick pay?
The government advises that you must keep records of SSP that you’ve paid and want to claim back from HMRC.
You must keep the following records for 3 years after the date you receive the payment for your claim:
● the dates the employee was off sick
● which of those dates were qualifying days
● the reason they said they were off work - if they had symptoms, someone they lived with had symptoms or they were shielding
● the employee’s National Insurance number
You can choose how you keep records of your employees’ sickness absence. HMRC may need to see these records if there’s a dispute over payment of SSP.
How does sick pay (SSP) work with coronavirus?
If your employee has been advised by Public Health to self-isolate because they fall into one of the below categories, they will be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay, which is currently £95.85 per week.
• They have been diagnosed with Coronavirus
• They have Coronavirus symptoms
• They have been advised to self-isolate by a doctor of NHS 111
• Someone within their household has Coronavirus symptoms (in this case everyone within the household must self-isolate for 14 days)
What if my employee self isolates as a precaution?
If your employee chooses to self-isolate as a precaution but does not fall into one of the above categories, they can take this time either as holiday or unpaid leave.
Who is liable for sick pay (SSP)?
The Government have announced that they will reimburse SSP (currently a flat rate of £95.85 per week) from day one of the Coronavirus sickness for a period of 14 days for small businesses.
Can I reclaim sick pay (SSP) as a domestic employer?
If you are a Stafftax customer, we can make the changes to your employee’s payslips. As soon as we have the details of how you can claim the funding from the Government we will send you the information on the process. In the meantime, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the below information, including your payroll number:
• Date the employee is off sick from (Coronavirus, self-isolated or any other absence reason)
• If known, the date they will be returning to work
• If you would like this to be reflected in line with Statutory Sick Pay and guidelines? If not, how much will you be paying?
What happens if my family and/or I need to self-isolate?
If you request that your employee doesn't attend work (either as a precaution or due to a member of the family falling ill with Coronavirus or Coronavirus like symptoms), the employee should be paid their full standard salary.
Can I take on a new employee if my current employee is off sick, or self-isolating?
Yes, you may take on another employee if your employee is off sick or self-isolating, however the employee would need to be employed on a temporary basis. For Stafftax customers, your HR advisors can draw up a contract to reflect this.
3. Other Coronavirus related FAQs
What if my employee is on maternity leave?
The normal rules for maternity and other forms of parental leave and pay apply.
You can claim through the scheme for enhanced (earnings related) contractual pay for employees who qualify for either:
• maternity pay
• adoption pay
• paternity pay
• shared parental pay
I am an employee, I have some queries how can I get in touch?
We ask that you direct your query through to your employer, alternatively contact ACAS.
Where can I keep up to date on new Government measures related to Covid-19?
We recommend staying up to date via ACAS and GOV.
What can I do if I'm struggling to pay my tax liabilities?
If you are concerned about not being able to pay your tax due to coronavirus, there is now a dedicated helpline to support businesses and self-employed individuals with outstanding tax liabilities and other tax affairs - please call 0800 0159 559.
4. Furlough Portal
I can't login to the furlough portal as I've forgotten my password.
You can access our furlough portal without logging in. If you don’t have your login details but need your unique HMRC details you can head to step 3 where you can request these details and as long as the email address you enter matches the one we have on file, we’ll be able to return your details immediately.
My employee isn’t showing up in the furlough portal what should I do?
If your employee isn’t showing up in the Furlough Portal, you should email us at email@example.com as it’s likely that we’re already in the process of furloughing them.
I have ended my employee's furlough leave, but I am unable to submit this information via the portal as my employee is not listed, what should I do?
If your employee isn’t showing up in the Furlough Portal, you should email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll update the furlough manually.