Coronavirus: Check if you can claim for your employees' wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

News article

Find out if you’re eligible and how much you can claim to cover wages for employees on temporary leave ('furlough') due to coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended until 30 April 2021.

Claims for furlough days in December 2020 must be made by 14 January 2021.

You can no longer submit claims for claim periods ending on or before 31 October 2020.

To use the scheme, the steps you’ll need to take are:

  1. check if you can claim
  2. check which employees you can put on furlough
  3. steps to take before calculating your claim using the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
  4. calculate how much you should claim
  5. claim for your employees’ wages online
  6. report a payment in PAYE Real Time Information

If you cannot maintain your workforce because your operations have been affected by coronavirus (COVID-19), you can furlough employees and apply for a grant to cover a portion of their usual monthly wage costs where you record them as being on furlough.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended until 30 April 2021. You can claim 80% of an employee’s usual salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.

You can claim for employees who were employed on 30 October 2020, as long as you have made a PAYE RTI submission to HMRC between the 20 March 2020 and 30 October 2020, notifying a payment of earnings for that employee. This may differ where you have made employees redundant, or they stopped working for you on or after 23 September 2020 and you have subsequently re-employed them. 

All employers with a UK, Isle of Man or Channel Island bank account and UK PAYE schemes can claim the grant. You do not need to have previously claimed for an employee before the 30 October 2020 to claim.

Employers can furlough employees for any amount of time and any work pattern, while still being able to claim the grant for the hours not worked.

You will need to pay for employer NICs and pension costs. Find out more information on employer contributions to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

If you’ve already worked out how much you can claim, you can claim for wages online through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

HMRC will check claims. Payments may be withheld or need to be paid back if a claim is found to be fraudulent or based on incorrect information. You can report suspected fraud in the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme grants are not classed as state aid.

Who can claim

You must have:

  • created and started a PAYE payroll scheme on or before 30 October 2020
  • enrolled for PAYE online
  • a UK, Isle of Man or Channel Island bank account

Any entity with a UK payroll can apply, including businesses, charities, recruitment agencies and public authorities.

You can only claim for furloughed employees that were employed and on payroll on 30 October 2020. This means you must have made a PAYE RTI submission to HMRC between 20 March 2020 and 30 October 2020, notifying a payment of earnings for that employee. This may differ where you have made employees redundant, or they stopped working for you on or after 23 September 2020 and you have subsequently re-employed them.

If you receive public funding

If you have staff costs that are publicly funded (even if you’re not in the public sector), you should use that money to continue paying your staff, and not furlough your staff.

Organisations can use the scheme if they are not fully funded by public grants and they should contact their sponsor department or respective administration for further guidance.

If you're an administrator

Where a company is being taken under the management of an administrator, the administrator can furlough and claim for employees.

Administrators should only use the scheme if there is a reasonable likelihood of retaining the employees. For example, this could be as a result of an administration and pursuit of a sale of the business.

Employees you can claim for

Check which employees you can put on furlough to use the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Agreeing to furlough employees

Employers should discuss with their staff and make any changes to the employment contract by agreement. When employers are making decisions in relation to the process, including deciding who to offer furlough to, equality and discrimination laws will apply in the usual way.

To be eligible for the grant employers must have confirmed to their employee (or reached collective agreement with a trade union) in writing that they have been furloughed. You must:

  • make sure that the agreement is consistent with employment, equality and discrimination laws
  • keep a written record of the agreement for 5 years
  • keep records of how many hours your employees work and the number of hours they are furloughed (i.e. not working)

The employee does not have to provide a written response and you do not need to place all your employees on furlough.

You can:

  • fully furlough employees - they cannot undertake any work for you while furloughed full time
  • flexibly furlough employees - they can work for any amount of time, and any work pattern but they cannot do any work for you during hours that you record them as being on furlough

If you flexibly furlough employees, you will also need to agree this with the employee (or reach collective agreement with a trade union) and keep a new written agreement that confirms the new furlough arrangement.

You do not need to place all your employees on furlough and you can continue to fully furlough employees if you wish. Employees cannot undertake any work for you during time that you record them as being on furlough.

Where consistent with employment law, any flexible furlough or furlough agreement made retrospectively that has effect from 1 November 2020 will be valid for the purposes of a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme claim as long as it is made according to the conditions above. Only retrospective agreements put in place up to and including the 13 November 2020 may be relied on for the purposes of a claim.

Flexible furlough agreements

There is no minimum furlough period, agreed flexible furlough agreements can last any amount of time. Employees can enter into a flexible furlough agreement more than once.

Although flexible furlough agreements can last any amount of time, unless otherwise specified the period that you claim for must be for a minimum claim period of 7 calendar days.

When your employees are on furlough

During hours which you record your employee as being on furlough, you cannot ask them to do any work for you that:

  • makes money for your organisation or any organisation linked or associated with your organisation
  • provides services for your organisation or any organisation linked or associated with your organisation

Your employee can:

  • take part in training
  • volunteer for another employer or organisation
  • work for another employer (if contractually allowed)

Paying employee taxes and pension contributions
Your employees will still pay the taxes they normally pay out of their wages.

You must deduct and pay to HMRC income tax and employee National Insurance contributions on the full amount that you pay the employee, including any scheme grant.

You must also pay to HMRC the employer National Insurance contributions on the full amount that you pay the employee, including any scheme grant.

You must report these payments via a Full Payment Submission (FPS) to HMRC on or before the pay date.

Your employee will also still pay pension contributions (both employer and automatic contributions from the employee), unless the employee has opted out or stopped saving into their pension. You are not able to claim for employer NICs and pension contributions.

Keeping employee rights
Employees still have the same rights at work, including:

  • Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
  • annual leave
  • maternity and other parental rights
  • rights against unfair dismissal
  • redundancy payments

Grants cannot be used to substitute redundancy payments. HMRC will continue to monitor businesses after the scheme has closed.

Holiday pay
Furloughed employees continue to accrue leave as per their employment contract.

You can only place employees on furlough if coronavirus (COVID-19) is affecting your operations.

You should not place employees on furlough just because they are going to be on paid leave.

The employer and employee can agree to vary holiday entitlement as part of the furlough agreement, however almost all workers are entitled to 5.6 weeks of statutory paid annual leave each year which they cannot go below.

Employees can take holiday whilst on furlough. If they are flexibly furloughed then any hours taken as holiday during the claim period should be counted as furloughed hours rather than working hours. You should not put your employees on furlough for a period just because they are on holiday for that period. This means that employees should only be placed on furlough because your operations have been affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) and not just because they are on paid leave. This applies equally during any peak periods in late December and early January.

Working Time Regulations (WTR) require holiday pay to be paid at the employee’s normal rate of pay or, where the rate of pay varies, calculated on the basis of the average pay received by the employee in the last 12 working weeks. Therefore, if a furloughed employee takes holiday, the employer should pay their usual holiday pay in accordance with the Working Time Regulations.

Employers will be obliged to pay employees who are on holiday additional amounts over the grant, though will have the flexibility to restrict when leave can be taken if there is a business need and the correct notice is given. This applies for both the furlough period and the recovery period.

If an employee usually works bank holidays then the employer can agree that this is included in the grant payment. If the employee usually takes the bank holiday as leave then the employer would either have to top up their usual holiday pay, or give the employee a day of holiday in lieu.

Read holiday entitlement and pay during coronavirus.

Employees working for a different employer
If contractually allowed, your employees are permitted to work for another employer whilst you have placed them on furlough.

For any employer that takes on a new employee, the new employer should ensure they complete the starter checklist form correctly. If the employee is furloughed from another employment, they should complete 'statement C' on the list.

If your employee does volunteer work

A furloughed employee can take part in volunteer work during hours which you record your employee as being on furlough as long as it is for another employer or organisation.

If your employee does training

Furloughed employees can engage in training during hours which you record your employee as being on furlough, as long as in undertaking the training the employee does not provide services to, or generate revenue for, or on behalf of their organisation or a linked or associated organisation. Furloughed employees should be encouraged to undertake training.

Where training is undertaken by furloughed employees during hours which you record your employee as being on furlough, at the request of their employer, they are entitled to be paid at least their appropriate national minimum wage for this time. In most cases, the furlough payment of 80% of an employee’s regular wage, up to the value of £2,500, will provide sufficient monies to cover these training hours. However, where the time spent training attracts a minimum wage entitlement in excess of the furlough payment, employers will need to pay the additional wages (see National Minimum Wage section for more details).

Furloughed employees working as union or non-union representatives or as pension trustees

During hours which you record your employee as being on furlough, employees who are union or non-union representatives may undertake duties and activities for the purpose of individual or collective representation of employees or other workers. However in doing this, they must not provide services to or generate revenue for, or on behalf of your organisation or a linked or associated organisation.

During hours which you record your employee as being on furlough, employees who are pension scheme trustees or trustee directors of a corporate trustee may undertake trustee duties in relation to the pension scheme. However, a professional, independent pension scheme trustee who has been furloughed by the independent trustee company cannot undertake trustee work that would provide services to or generate revenue for, or on behalf of, the independent trustee company or any organisation linked or associated with that independent trustee company during hours which you record them as being on furlough.

Before you claim

You will need to work out how much you can claim through the scheme. HMRC will retain the right to retrospectively audit all aspects of your claim.

Employers should discuss with their staff and make any changes to the employment contract by agreement.

Employers may need to seek legal advice on the process. If sufficient numbers of staff are involved, it may be necessary to engage collective consultation processes to procure agreement to changes to terms of employment.

HMRC cannot provide your employees with details of claims you make on their behalf. Please help them by keeping your employees informed, answering any questions that they might have. Please ask them not to contact HMRC.

Employer claim information that HMRC will make public

As part of HMRC’s commitment to transparency and to deter fraudulent claims, HMRC will publish information about employers who claim for periods starting on or after 1 December 2020.

HMRC will publish a list of employer names on GOV.UK on 26 January.

In February HMRC will start publishing the following information on a monthly basis:

  • the employer name
  • an indication of the value of the claim within a banded range
  • the company number for companies and Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs)

The banded ranges are:

  • £1 to £10,000
  • £10,001 to £25,000
  • £25,001 to £50,000
  • £50,001 to 100,000
  • £100,001 to £250,000
  • £250,001 to £500,000
  • £500,001 to £1,000,000
  • £1,000,001 to £2,500,000
  • £2,500,001 to £5,000,000
  • £5,000,001 to £10,000,000
  • £10,000,001 to £25,000,000
  • £25,000,001 to £50,000,000
  • £50,000,001 to £100,000,000
  • £100,000,001 and above

In February, HMRC will also be improving the information available to furloughed employees. HMRC will be including details of claims made for them, for claim periods starting on or after 1 December 2020, in their Personal Tax Account.

HMRC will not publish details of employers claiming through the scheme if you can show that publicising these would result in a serious risk of violence or intimidation to certain relevant individuals, or any individual living with them.

Those individuals include:

  • employers that are individuals - a relevant individual can be the employer themselves, or any employee of the employer
  • employers that are companies - a relevant individual can be a director, officer or employee of that company
  • employers that are partnerships - a relevant individual can be a partner, officer or employee of that partnership
  • employers that are limited liability partnerships - a relevant individual can be a member or employee of that limited liability partnership
  • trustees of a trust - a relevant individual can be a settlor, trustee or beneficiary of the trust

If publishing your claim could leave individuals at risk of violence or intimidation

If you are an employer and think that a serious risk of violence or intimidation will come from publicising your name, company registration number and amount of claim, you will need to tell HMRC and provide them with evidence of why you think this.

This evidence could include:

  • details of why you think publication would lead to the threat of violence or intimidation
  • a police incident number if you’ve been threatened or attacked
  • documentary evidence of a threat or attack, such as photos
  • evidence of possible disruption or targeting
  • any other material supporting your application to be removed from the register

How to ask HMRC not to publish your claim details

If you are an employer and you think there is a serious risk of violence or intimidation, you can request HMRC do not publish your claim details.

You must make this request yourself. Your agent cannot make the request for you.

HMRC will not publish any of your details until a decision has been made and you have been informed.

You only need to apply once. HMRC's decision will cover all claim periods starting on or after 1 December.

You will need to provide your:

  • employer Government Gateway user ID and password
  • Employer PAYE reference number
  • business name
  • contact details
  • evidence in support of your application

Further employer guidance and furlough templates

The Labour Relations Agency (LRA) has produced guidance and a sample templates to help employers with agreeing, extending and ending furlough - see the LRA's COVID-19 practical guidance - the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Contacting HMRC

If you think that there have been mistakes or unreasonable delays caused by HMRC, you can use their complaints process.

Get help online
Use HMRC's digital assistant to find more information about the coronavirus support schemes.

You can also contact HMRC if you cannot get the help you need online.

HMRC is receiving very high numbers of calls. Please do not contact HMRC unnecessarily, this will help them to manage their essential public services during these challenging times.


First published 27 March 2020