Guidance

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

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 is being extended until 31 March 2021.

30 November 2020 is the last day employers can submit or change claims for periods ending on or before 31 October 2020.

Claims for furlough days in November 2020 must be submitted by 14 December 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

  4. Calculate how much you should claim

  5. Claim for your employees’ wages online

  6. Report a payment in PAYE Real Time Information (RTI)

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 will remain open until 31 March 2021. From 1 November 2020 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. The government will review the scheme in January 2021.

All employers with a UK 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 for periods from 1 November 2020.

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.

Employers can continue to claim for periods ending on or before 31 October 2020 until the deadline on 30 November 2020. You might need to contribute towards the cost of your furloughed employees’ wages for these periods. For periods from 1 November 2020, you will only need to pay for the cost of 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. For claim periods starting on or after 1 November 2020, you’ll be able to claim from 11 November 2020.

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 bank account

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

If you’re claiming for a period that ends on or before 31 October 2020, you can only claim if you have previously furloughed your employee before 1 July 2020 and you have submitted a claim for this by 31 July 2020. This may differ if you have an employee returning from statutory parental leave

If you are claiming for a period that starts on or after 1 November 2020, then 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.

You can read previous versions of this guidance on The National Archives.

Maximum number of employees you can claim for in claim periods ending on or before 31 October 2020

If you’re claiming for a period that ends on or before 31 October 2020, the amount you can claim for in any single claim period starting from 1 July 2020 cannot exceed the maximum number of employees you claimed for under any claim ending by 30 June 2020. There is no maximum number of employees you can claim for from 1 November 2020.

There are some exceptions explained in this guidance for employees returning from parental leave and military reservists, where this cap may not apply.

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.

If you’re claiming for a period that ends on or before 31 October 2020, then your employee must have been furloughed by their previous employer for at least three consecutive weeks taking place any time between 1 March 2020 and 30 June 2020.

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

Employees you can claim for

Find out which employees you can put on furlough and claim for.

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 five 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’ll 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’ll need to:

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

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 seven 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. From 1 August 2020 employers will not be 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.

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 an employee is flexibly furloughed then any hours taken as holiday during the claim period should be counted as furloughed hours rather than working hours.

Employees should not be placed on furlough for a period simply because they are on holiday for that period. 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 52 working weeks (twelve weeks in Northern Ireland). 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.

Find out more information on holiday pay during furlough.

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 us 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, we will publish information about employers who claim for periods starting on or after 1 December 2020. The following information will be published on GOV.UK:

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

Further detail on how HMRC will give an indication of the value of the claim will be available from late November.

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

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 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 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 us and provide us with evidence of why you think this.

This evidence could include:

  • a police incident number if you’ve been threatened or attacked
  • documentary evidence of a threat or attack, such as photos or recordings
  • evidence of possible disruption or targeting

Further details on how to request that HMRC do not publish your details will be available soon, providing employers enough time to do this before the first publication date.

Contacting HMRC

If you think that there have been mistakes or unreasonable delays caused by HMRC, you can use our 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. We are receiving a very high numbers of calls. Please do not contact HMRC unnecessarily, this will help us to manage our essential public services during these challenging times.

We are receiving a very high numbers of calls. Please do not contact HMRC unnecessarily, this will help us to manage our essential public services during these challenging times.

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 19 November 2020 + show all updates
  1. The sections 'Who can claim' and 'Employer claim information that HMRC will make public' have been updated.

  2. Added information relating to employer information that HMRC will make public.

  3. The scheme has been extended. This guidance has been updated with details of how to claim for periods after 1 November 2020. 30 November 2020 is the last day employers can submit or change claims for periods ending on or before 31 October 2020.

  4. Information call out updated to state that the scheme is being extended until 31 March 2021.

  5. Information call out has been updated to confirm that the guidance on this page reflects the rules for the period until 31 October 2020. This page will be updated to include the rules relating to the scheme extension shortly.

  6. Added translation

  7. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is being extended until December 2020.

  8. Information call out has been updated - the scheme is now closed. 30 November 2020 is the last date you can submit claims.

  9. The information call out at the top of the page has been updated with the changes to the scheme. 30 November 2020 is the last day employers can submit or change claims for periods ending on or before 30 October 2020.

  10. The information call out at the top of the page has been updated with the changes to the scheme from 1 September.

  11. A link to a previous version of this guide has been added to the information box at the top of the page.

  12. The information call out has been updated to tell employers about changes to the scheme from 1 Aug 2020. New section added on the maximum number of employees you can claim for. Information about the minimum furlough period removed throughout and from the section on minimum furlough periods.

  13. Contact section has been updated with information about complaints.

  14. Adjusted text to add clarity to 'Paying employee taxes and pension contributions' section and added wording to section on employee rights to make it clear that you can continue to claim for a furloughed employee who is serving a statutory notice period.

  15. Page updated with information that employee taxes and pension contribution payments must be paid directly to HMRC. Also added information on holiday pay that flexibly furloughed employees can be recorded as on furlough during time spent on holiday.

  16. The page has been updated with information about how the scheme is changing.

  17. Information in the box at the top of the page updated with how the scheme is changing.

  18. Page updated with information about how the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is changing.

  19. Information added about the extension of the scheme. Information added for workers that are furloughed that want to volunteer. 'Employees that you can claim for' section moved to a new guide called 'Check which employees you can put on furlough to use the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme'.

  20. Added links to apprenticeship learning arrangements for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Added a link to shared parental pay guidance and a new section for maternity allowance.

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

  22. The date for the new consolidated PAYE scheme has been updated.

  23. Information added on union and non-union representatives, company directors with an annual pay period, TUPE transfers, employees who started family-related statutory pay on or after 25 April 2020 and state aid.

  24. New information has been added on collective agreement reached with a trade union. Clarified eligibility criteria, including for employees on fixed-term contracts.

  25. The online service you'll use to claim is now available: www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wages-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

  26. Details of what you'll need to make a claim have been moved to www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wages-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

  27. New information added on scheme extension, fraud, claims for employees you made redundant or who stopped working for you, fixed term contracts, agency workers and retaining records. Also, a new guide has been published with information on holiday pay, employees returning from family-related statutory leave and sick pay, how to treat grant payments in Real Time Information. Plus, more information on how to calculate the claim for 80% of your employees’ wages, how much you can claim for National Insurance and pension contributions and how to claim.

  28. Updated information on payroll date and eligibility.

  29. New information on eligibility and pension contributions has been added.

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

  31. First published.