Guidance

Check if your employer can use the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Find out if you’re eligible, and how much your employer can claim if they put you on temporary leave ('furlough') because of coronavirus (COVID-19).

If you and your employer both agree, your employer might be able to keep you on the payroll if they’re unable to operate or have no work for you to do because of coronavirus (COVID-19). This is known as being ‘on furlough’.

Your employer could pay 80% of your regular wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, up to a monthly cap of £2,500.

You’ll still be paid by your employer and pay taxes from your income. You cannot undertake work for your employer while on furlough.

This is a temporary scheme that was initially put in place for 4 months starting from 1 March 2020 and will continue in its current form until the end of July. Employers can use the scheme anytime during this period. From August, employers currently using the scheme will have more flexibility to bring their furloughed employees back to work part time whilst still receiving support from the scheme.

This will run for three months from August through to the end of October. Employers will be 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. More specific details and information around its implementation will be made available by the end of May.

The scheme is designed to help employers whose operations have been severely affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) to retain their employees and protect the UK economy. However, all employers are eligible to claim under the scheme and the government recognises different businesses will face different impacts from coronavirus.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme forms part of a collective national effort to protect people’s jobs. You can play a vital role by reporting fraudulent claims to HMRC. Fraudulent claims risk the provision of public services and the protection of livelihoods.

If you’re concerned that your employer is abusing the scheme you should report them. This could include your employer claiming on your behalf and not paying you what you’re entitled to, being asked to work whilst on furlough, or making a backdated claim that includes times when you were working.

Check if you’re eligible

Your employer is responsible for claiming through the Job Retention Scheme on your behalf and for paying you what you are entitled to. You cannot apply for the scheme yourself.

Both you and your employer must agree to put you on furlough - so speak to your employer about whether they can claim. If your employer and a trade union reach collective agreement that is also acceptable, for the purpose of your employer claiming through the scheme. Once agreed your employer must confirm in writing that you have been furloughed to be eligible to claim. Contact your employer if you do not receive confirmation.

If you are concerned that your employer has not claimed on your behalf, you should speak to your employer. HMRC will not be able to provide information about individual applications.

Any employer with a UK payroll and a UK bank account will be able to claim, but you must have been employed on 19 March 2020 and on your employer’s PAYE payroll on or before 19 March 2020. This means your employer must have made a Real Time Information (RTI) submission notifying payment in respect of you to HMRC on or before 19 March 2020.

Find out what happens if you were employed on 28 February 2020 but not on 19 March 2020.

You can be on any type of contract, including a zero-hour contract or a temporary contract. You can be furloughed under the scheme if you are a foreign national.

This scheme does not apply if you are self-employed or to any income from self-employment. You may qualify for support under the Self-employment income support scheme.

If you’re on sick leave or self-isolating because of coronavirus (COVID-19), speak to your employer about whether you’re eligible to be furloughed – you should get Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) as a minimum while you are on sick leave or self isolating. Your employer can furlough you at any time- if they do, you will no longer receive sick pay, but should be treated as any other furloughed employee.

If you are shielding in line with public health guidance or required to stay home due to an individual in your household shielding and are unable to work from home, then you should speak to your employer about whether they plan to place staff on furlough.

If you are unable to work, including from home, due to caring responsibilities arising from coronarivus (COVID-19), such as caring for children who are at home as a result of school and childcare facilities closing, or caring for a vulnerable individual in your household, then you should speak to your employer about whether they plan to place staff on furlough.

The grant will start on the day you were placed on furlough and this can be backdated to 1 March 2020.

If you were made redundant or stopped working for your employer on or after 28 February 2020

Your employer can agree to re-employ you and place you on furlough. They’ll still be able to claim a grant to cover 80% of your regular wages from the date you were placed on furlough, up to a cap of £2,500 a month. This applies if you were made redundant or stopped working for them on or after 28 February 2020, even if they do not re-employ you until after 19 March 2020.

This applies as long as you were on their payroll on or before 28 February 2020. This means an RTI submission notifying payment in respect of you to HMRC must have been made on or before 28 February 2020.

Find out what happens if you stopped working for your employer and were on a fixed term contract.

If you were made redundant or stopped working for your employer on or after 19 March 2020

Your employer can agree to re-employ you and place you on furlough. They’ll still be able to claim a grant to cover 80% of your regular wages from the date you were placed on furlough, up to a cap of £2,500 a month. This applies if you were made redundant or stopped working for them on or after 19 March 2020.

This applies as long as you were on their payroll on or before 19 March 2020. This means an RTI submission notifying payment in respect of you to HMRC must have been made on or before 19 March 2020.

If you’re on a fixed term contract

If you were on a fixed term contract your employer can re-employ, furlough and claim for you if your contract expired on or after either:

  • 28 February 2020 and an RTI payment submission for you was notified to HMRC on or before 28 February 2020
  • 19 March 2020 and an RTI payment submission for you was notified to HMRC on or before 19 March 2020

If your fixed term contract has not already expired, your employer can extend or renew it. Your employer can claim for you if an RTI payment submission for you was notified to HMRC on or before 19 March 2020.

If you started and ended the same contract between 28 February 2020 and 19 March 2020 you will not qualify for this scheme. This is not specific to employees on fixed-term contracts, the same would apply to employees on all other contracts.

If you currently have more than one employer

You can be put on furlough by one employer and continue to work for another. If you’re put on furlough by more than one employer, you’ll receive separate payments from each employer. The 80% of your regular wage up to a £2,500 monthly cap applies to each job.

If you have had multiple employers over the past year, have only worked for one of them at any one time, and are being furloughed by your current employer, you cannot be furloughed by your previous employer.

If you are on tax credits

If you currently receive tax credits you should check to see what changes you have to report.

If you are on Universal Credit

If you’re earning less because you’re on furlough, your Universal Credit payment might change - find out how earnings affect your payments.

If you are on maternity leave, adoption leave, paternity leave, shared parental leave or parental bereavement leave

The normal rules for maternity and other forms of parental leave and pay apply.

Although, your employer may need to calculate your average weekly earnings, if you were put on furlough and then started leave on or after 25 April 2020 for:

Your employer 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
  • parental bereavement pay

If you’re getting Maternity Allowance

If you’re getting Maternity Allowance while you’re on maternity leave, you cannot get furlough pay at the same time.

If you have agreed to be put on furlough, you must contact Jobcentre Plus to stop your Maternity Allowance payments.

If you agree to go on furlough and end your maternity leave early, you will need to give your employer at least 8 weeks’ notice and you will not be eligible for furlough pay until the end of the 8 weeks.

If you are pregnant and about to start maternity leave

You should start maternity leave as normal. If your earnings have reduced because you were off sick before your maternity leave started, this may affect your Statutory Maternity Pay.

If your earnings have reduced because you were put on furlough and then you started family-related statutory leave on or after 25 April 2020, the amount you receive in pay should not be affected. If you started family-related statutory pay before 25 April 2020, your entitlement may be affected. The same rules apply to adoption pay, paternity pay, shared parental pay and parental bereavement pay.

If you’re employed by an individual

If you’re employed by an individual (for example, as a nanny) then your employer can furlough you under the scheme if you are paid through PAYE and were on their payroll on or before 19 March 2020. This means your employer must have made an RTI submission notifying payment in respect of you to HMRC on or before 19 March 2020.

If you’re an apprentice

Apprentices can be furloughed in the same way as other employees and continue to train.

You must be paid at least the Apprenticeship Minimum Wage/National Living Wage/National Minimum Wage as appropriate for all of the time you spend training, even if this is more than 80% of your normal wages.

If you’re a public sector employee

The government expects that the scheme will not be used by many public sector organisations, as the majority of public sector employees are continuing to provide essential public services or contribute to the response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Where employers receive public funding for staff costs, and that funding is continuing, we expect employers to use that money to continue to pay staff in the usual fashion – and correspondingly not furlough them.

This also applies to non-public sector employers who receive public funding for staff costs. Organisations who are receiving public funding specifically to provide services necessary to respond to COVID-19 are not expected to furlough staff.

In a small number of cases, for example where organisations are not primarily funded by the government and whose staff cannot be redeployed to assist with the coronavirus response, the scheme may be appropriate for some staff.

If you work for the public sector, you can get more information about how the scheme works for you from your UK Government Department, employer or, in the case of employers funded by the Scottish Government, Welsh Government or Northern Ireland Executive, through your respective administration.

Other specific categories

You may be eligible to be furloughed, and receive a grant of 80% of your regular wages up to a monthly cap of £2500, if you are paid via PAYE and are in one of the following categories.

  • You are an agency worker
  • You are a company director
  • You are a contractor with public sector engagements in scope of IR35 off-payroll working rules (IR35)
  • You are a salaried member of a Limited Liability Partnership
  • You are a Limb (b) worker
  • You are an office holder

Detail on how this scheme can apply to you is set out at the end of this guidance.

How much you’ll get

Your employer will get a grant to cover 80% of your regular wages, up to a maximum of £2,500.

Firms will be eligible for the grant from the date you ceased work, from 1 March. Your employer:

  • will pay you at least 80% of your regular monthly wages, up to a maximum of £2,500, as your wage
  • can claim for a minimum of 3 consecutive weeks and for up to 3 months - but this may be extended
  • can choose to pay you more than the grant - but they do not have to
  • cannot choose to pay you less than the grant

Your employer must pay you all the grant they receive for your gross pay in the form of money. Your employer cannot enter into any transaction with you which reduces the amount you receive.This includes any administration charge, fees or other costs in connection with your employment.

Where you have authorised your employer to make deductions from your salary, these deductions can continue while you are furloughed provided that these deductions are not charges, fees or other costs in connection with your employment. You’ll still pay Income Tax, National Insurance contributions, Student Loan repayments and any other deductions (such as pension contributions) from your wage.

How your monthly wages are calculated

If you are a full-time or part-time employee on a salary, then your monthly wages are based on your salary. You should speak to your employer for further information about how they will calculate this.

If your pay varies and you’ve been employed (or engaged by an employment business in the case of agency workers) for a full year, employers will claim for the higher of either:

  • the amount you earned in the same month last year
  • an average of your monthly earnings from the last year

If your pay varies and you’ve been employed for less than a year, employers will claim for an average of your regular monthly wages since you started work.

If you have been working for less than a month, your employer will pro-rata your earnings from that month.

The amounts your employer should use when calculating 80% of your wages are regular payments that they must make, including:

  • regular wages they pay you
  • non-discretionary overtime
  • non-discretionary fees
  • non-discretionary commission payments
  • piece rate payments

They cannot include the following when calculating your wages:

  • payments made at their or a client’s discretion - where they or a client was under no contractual obligation to pay you, including:
    • any tips, including those distributed through troncs
    • discretionary bonuses
    • discretionary commission payments
  • non-cash payments
  • non-monetary benefits like benefits in kind (such as a company car) and salary sacrifice schemes (including pension contributions) that reduce your taxable pay

HMRC agrees that COVID-19 counts as a life event that could warrant changes to salary sacrifice arrangements, if the relevant employment contract is updated accordingly. If you want to switch out of a salary sacrifice scheme as a result of COVID-19, you should speak to your employer.

Holiday pay

Whilst furloughed you will continue to accrue leave as per your employment contract. You can agree with your employer to vary holiday pay 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.

You can take holiday whilst on furlough. Working Time Regulations (WTR) require holiday pay to be paid at your normal rate of pay or, where your rate of pay varies, calculated on the basis of the average pay you received in the previous 52 working weeks. Therefore, if you take holiday while on furlough, your employer should pay you your usual holiday pay in accordance with the WTR. Employers will be obliged to pay the additional amounts over the grant, though will have the flexibility to restrict when leave can be taken if there is a business need. This applies for both the furlough period and the recovery period.

If you usually work bank holidays then your employer can agree that this is included in the grant payment. If you usually take the bank holiday as leave then your employer would either have to top up your pay to your usual holiday pay, or give you a day of holiday in lieu.

During this unprecedented time, we are keeping the policy on holiday pay during furlough under review.

Family related statutory leave includes maternity leave, paternity leave, shared parental leave, adoption leave, parental bereavement leave and unpaid parental leave.

If you’re on fixed pay and are a full or part time employee who has been furloughed on return from family related statutory leave, your employer should calculate the grant against your salary, before tax, not the pay you received whilst on family related statutory leave.

If your pay varies and you are furloughed on your return from statutory leave, your employer should calculate the grant using the highest of either:

  • 80% of the same month’s wages from the previous year (up to a maximum of £2,500 a month)
  • 80% of the average monthly wages for the 2019 - 2020 tax year (up to a maximum of £2,500 a month)

Employees returning to work after being on sick pay

If you’re on fixed pay and are returning to work after time off sick, your employer will calculate how much you’ll receive against your salary, before tax, not the pay you received whilst off sick.

If you’re on variable pay and returning to work after time off sick, your employer will calculate how much you’ll get using the highest of either:

  • 80% of the same month’s wages from the previous year (up to a maximum of £2,500 a month)
  • 80% of the average monthly wages for the 2019 - 2020 tax year (up to a maximum of £2,500 a month)

While you’re on furlough

Once you are on furlough you will not be able to work for your employer. You can undertake training or volunteer subject to public health guidance, as long as you’re not:

  • making money for your employer or a company linked or associated to your employer
  • providing services to your employer or a company linked or associated to your employer
  • furloughed by your employer and volunteering for them in a different role

If workers are required to, for example, complete training courses whilst they are furloughed, then they must be paid at least their appropriate minimum wage (NLW/NMW/AMW) for the time spent training, even if this is more than the 80% of their wage that will be subsidised.

Whilst furloughed your employer cannot ask you to do work for another linked or associated company.

If your contract allows, you may undertake other employment while your current employer has placed you on furlough, and this will not affect the grant that they can claim under the scheme. You will need to be able to return to work for the employer that has placed you on furlough if they decide to stop furloughing you, and you must be able to undertake any training they require while on furlough. If you take on new employment, you should ensure you complete the starter checklist form with your new employer correctly. If you are furloughed from another employment, you should complete Statement C. Any activities undertaken while on furlough must be in line with the latest Public Health guidance during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Your employer can still make you redundant while you’re on furlough or afterwards.

Your rights as an employee are not affected by being on furlough, including redundancy rights.

If your employer chooses to place you on furlough, you will need to remain on furlough for a minimum of 3 consecutive weeks. However, your employer can place you on furlough more than once, and one period can follow straight after an existing furlough period, while the scheme is open. The scheme will be open for at least 4 months.

Whilst on furlough, you may still undertake union or non-union representatives duties and activities for the purpose of an individual or collective representation of employees or other workers. However in doing this, you must not provide services to or generate revenue for, or on behalf of your organisation or a linked or associated organisation.

If you do not want to go on furlough

If your employer asks you to go on furlough and you refuse you may be at risk of redundancy or termination of employment, depending on the circumstances of your employer. However, this must be in line with normal redundancy rules and protections.

Guidance for specific customers

If you’re an agency worker (including if you are employed by an umbrella company)

Where agency workers are paid through PAYE, they are eligible to be furloughed and receive support through this scheme, including where they are employed by umbrella companies.

Furlough should be agreed between the agency, as the deemed employer, and the worker. As with employees, agency workers should perform no work for, through, or on behalf of the agency that has furloughed them while they are furloughed, including performing such work through or on behalf of the agency for the agency’s clients.

Where an agency supplies clients with workers who are employed by an umbrella company that operates the PAYE, it will be for the umbrella company and the worker to agree whether to furlough the worker or not.

If you’re an office holder

If you are an office holder who is remunerated by PAYE then you can be furloughed and receive support through this scheme. The furlough, and any ongoing payment during furlough, will need to be agreed between you and the party who operates PAYE on the income they receive for holding their office. Where you are a company director or member of a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP), the furlough arrangements should be adopted formally as a decision of the company or LLP.

If you’re a company director

As office holders, salaried company directors are eligible to be furloughed and receive support through this scheme. Company directors owe duties to their company which are set out in the Companies Act 2006. Where a company (acting through its board of directors) considers that it is in compliance with the statutory duties of one or more of its individual salaried directors, the board can decide that such directors should be furloughed.

Where furloughed directors need to carry out particular duties to fulfil the statutory obligations they owe to their company, they may do so provided they do no more than would be judged reasonably necessary for the purposes, i.e. they should not do work of a kind they would carry out in normal circumstances to generate commercial revenue or provides services to or on behalf of their company.

This also applies to salaried individuals who are directors of their own personal service company (PSC).

Company directors with an annual pay period

Those paid annually are eligible to claim, as long as they meet the relevant conditions. This includes being notified to HMRC on an RTI submission on or before 19 March 2020, which relates to a payment of earnings in the 19/20 tax year. The requirement for there to be payment of earnings in the 19/20 tax year applies for any employee being claimed for under the scheme, irrespective of how frequently they are paid (e.g. weekly, fortnightly or monthly). This will be relevant for those on an annual pay period if the last payment notified to RTI was before 5 April 2019 and no further payments were notified until after 19 March 2020.

An employer can make their claim in anticipation of an imminent payroll run, at the point they run their payroll or after they have run their payroll.

If you’re a contractor with public sector engagements in scope of IR35 off-payroll working rules (IR35)

Public sector bodies will follow the Crown Commercial Services guidance in the vast majority of cases. In a small number of cases, for example where organisations are not primarily funded by the government and whose staff cannot be redeployed to assist with the coronavirus response, it may be appropriate to claim under the CJRS. Contractors who are deemed employees according to the off-payroll working rules can be eligible for this scheme.

In this scenario, if the public sector organisation wished to furlough a contractor, they would have to confirm this with both the contractor’s Personal Service Company (PSC) and the fee-payer (as set out in the off-payroll working rules, usually the agency paying the contractor’s PSC). It should be formally agreed between these parties that the contractor is to do no work for the public sector organisation during their period of furlough. The fee-payer would be able to apply for the furlough payment of 80% of the monthly contract value, up to a maximum of £2,500, as well as the employer NICs on that subsidised wage. The fee-payer would then pay at least the amount of wage-grant received to the PSC, and report the payment via PAYE using the contractor’s details, making the usual tax and National Insurance contributions (NICs) deductions for contracts in scope of the off-payroll rules. The PSC would then be required to report the amount it pays to the contractor as deemed employment income via PAYE using box 58A on the PAYE Real Time Information return.

Where a contractor is continuing to receive payments from a public sector client (including through the CJRS or other any other scheme), income from this client should be excluded from any calculation of the reference pay for the purposes of the CJRS if the contractor also decides to furlough themselves as an employee or director of their own company.

If you’re a salaried member of a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)

Members of LLPs who are designated as employees for tax purposes (‘salaried members’) under the Income Tax (Trading and Other Income) Act (ITTOIA) 2005 are eligible to be furloughed and receive support through this scheme.

The rights and duties of a member of an LLP are set out in an LLP agreement and in the absence of an agreement, default provisions in the LLP Act 2000, based upon company and partnership law. Such an agreement may include separate agreement between the LLP and an individual member setting out the terms applicable to that member’s relationship with the LLP.

To furlough a member, the terms of the LLP agreement (or any such agreement between the LLP and the member) may need to be varied by a formal decision of the LLP, for example to reflect the fact that the member will perform no work in the LLP for the period of furlough, and the effect of this on their remuneration from the LLP. For an LLP member who is treated as being employed by the LLP (in accordance with s863A of ITTOIA 2005), the reference salary for this scheme is the LLP member’s profit allocation, excluding any amounts which are determined by the LLP member’s performance, or the overall performance of the LLP.

If you’re a Limb (b) Worker

Where Limb (b) Workers are paid through PAYE, they can be furloughed and receive support through this scheme.

Those who pay tax on their trading profits through Income Tax Self-Assessment, may instead be eligible for the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, announced by the Chancellor on 26 March 2020.

You can find out more about the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, including the eligibility criteria and how to claim.

If you’re a contingent worker in the public sector

The Cabinet Office has issued guidance on how payments to suppliers of contingent workers impacted by COVID-19 should be dealt with where the party receiving the contingent worker’s services is a Central Government Department, an Executive Agency of a Central Government Department or a Non-Departmental Public Body.

This guidance applies to agency workers paid through PAYE, as well as those paid through umbrella companies on PAYE and off-payroll workers supplying their services through a Personal Service Company (PSC). This guidance can be read here

Contacting HMRC

If you have questions about the scheme, you should contact your employer first.

We are receiving very high numbers of calls. Contacting HMRC unnecessarily puts our essential public services at risk during these challenging times.

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 or from your employer.

Other help and support

You can watch videos and register for free webinars to learn more about the support available to help you deal with the economic impacts of coronavirus.

Published 26 March 2020
Last updated 21 May 2020 + show all updates
  1. Information added to clarify that employee authorised salary deductions can be deducted from grant payments. A link has been added directing customers to check the impact on their tax credits. Corrected inconsistencies within the guidance around the dates of eligibility for the scheme.

  2. Page has been updated with information about the extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

  3. Information added for employees that are furloughed and want to volunteer.

  4. Added a link to shared parental pay guidance and a new section for maternity allowance.

  5. Link to the webinar help and support page for businesses affected by coronavirus (COVID-19), has been added.

  6. New information added on union and non-union representatives, company directors with an annual pay period and employees who started family-related statutory pay on or after 25 April 2020. Also, clarified what employers can include in wages.

  7. New information has been added on collective agreement reached with a trade union. Also clarified eligibility criteria for employees on fixed-term contracts.

  8. New information added on how to report fraud or abuse of the scheme, fixed term contracts, holiday pay, returning from family related statutory leave, sick pay and agency workers.

  9. Updated information on payroll date and eligibility

  10. New information about eligibility has been added.

  11. This guidance has been updated with more information about the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

  12. First published.