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HM Treasury gives legal effect to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Makbool Javaid, Partner - Simons Muirhead & Burton

HM Treasury has given legal effect to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) by way of a direction issued to HMRC on 15 April 2020, under the powers conferred by Sections 71 and 76 of the Coronavirus Act 2020. The direction contains details of the scheme’s features and operation that significantly exceeds the information previously provided in the HMRC guidance documents. Of particular note, is that the cut-off date for eligibility under the CJRS has been changed from 28 February 2020 to 19 March 2020, i.e. now the employer must have created and started a PAYE payroll scheme on or before 19 March 2020 and enrolled for PAYE online, which clearly extends the scope of the CJRS. Simultaneously, on 15 April 2020, HMRC updated its guidance for employers, for the third time. HMRC have stated that this third update contains new information on payroll date and eligibility, which appears to indicate that the key points in the Treasury direction have been included (and certainly the cut off date has changed to 19 March). Employers wishing to use the CJRS are advised to read and follow both the HM Treasury direction and the HMRC guidance and then take legal advice to ensure compliance, particularly where agreement has already been reached with employees to take leave of absence under the Scheme. The SM&B Employment & Business Immigration Team have tracked all the changes as the details have emerged and are able to assist employers in ensuring they fully comply with the CJRS’ provisions.

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