COVID-19: Job Retention Scheme (furlough) portal will be live on the 20th April

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It is thought that the majority of the initial claims will be back dated and it’s also been stated that employers can claim in advance up to 14 days.

Author: Roxanne Bradley
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On the 8th April 2020,  Senior representatives from the HMRC answered questions from the parliamentary select committee regarding the Job Retention Scheme (furlough). The two hour meeting covered some of the following points.

HMRC announced that the online portal is set to be available from the 20th April 2020 (originally thought to be the 30th). The portal has been built from scratch and the first payments should be made by the 30th April. 
We have also been told that payments should take 4-6 working days from when the data is entered. This allows HMRC to carry out some (we don’t know what this will entail) fraud checks. 

Live testing has started with a small amount of employers and we have been told that it will be able to cope with a large volume of claims. Watch this space. 

A guidance document will be released within the next week in order for employers to be ready to file the data for the 20th April.  
Employers who run their payroll weekly, they will still be able to do this weekly and one claim per pay period will be allowed, whether this is weekly or monthly. 

It is thought that the majority of the initial claims will be back dated and it’s also been stated that employers can claim in advance up to 14 days. 

HMRC have again confirmed there are no plans to extend scheme to incorporate those who started after 28th February 2020 and the affected employees are being advised to seek other benefits. 

Questions were raised with concerns and the problems around abuse of the system. HMRC confirmed, if employees are being asked to work whilst on furlough there will be a hotline in place for employees to report their employers. If there is evidence of a breach of the rules, the claims will not be paid out. 

In the future, HMRC intends to check the claims. We have previously advised you to provide your employees with a template (How do I inform employees they are to be put on Furlough Leave? ), written notification is required! Employers must retain a copy of the letter to their employees for five years. Its therefore likely HMRC contemplates that their investigations will take place at a later date and will take a considerable amount of time to complete. 

Also confirmed, depending on the severity of the employers conduct this could result in criminal proceedings being considered. 
Once further guidance is released, we will let you know.

Roxanne Bradley

Legal Advisor

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