Employers’ update: plans for the job scheme extension

Specialist medical accountant Vanessa Sanders brings another update on fast-changing Government support for businesses.

The initial extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) replacing the JSS was announced on 31 October with the promise of more details to follow. Then on 5 November, the Chancellor announced that the CJRS would be extended until the end of March 2021 for all parts of the UK. 

Now HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has provided more information on the implementation and its claim line has opened for November. Full details can be found at www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-job-retention-scheme.

Job Retention Bonus

Promises already made for a Job Retention Bonus (JRB) of £1,000 for each employee still in employment on 31 January 2021 have been broken.

This is a disappointment, as it was a bonus to be paid to the employer, many of whom are doctors in private practice who have suffered reduced profits with little or no financial assistance for themselves. 

This bonus will no longer be paid in February 2021, as the CJRS will be still available up to the end of March 2021. An alternative retention incentive will be considered at the appropriate time, according to the Chancellor.


Employers and employees alike are desperate to know if this will be enough to secure their jobs, but without a long-term plan, businesses must still face the possibility of redundancies as they continue to accumulate debts on costs without any idea of when income might resume. 

HMRC has stated that the extension of the CJRS is open only to those employers who ‘cannot maintain (their) workforce because (their) operations have been affected by coronavirus (Covid-19)’ 

This is different to the CJRS of earlier in the year because there appeared to be no restriction on the ability to maintain the workforce. Hidden within this statement appears to be the imperative for each business to consider not only income streams flowing in now, but their reserves. 

Some private medicine has recovered, and although it may take some time to return to normal levels, each business should consider its ability to pay the staff they have in place. This will be particularly in point where businesses employ family members.

In summary:

  • From 1 November 2020, an employer is entitled to claim 80% of an employee’s usual (pre-Covid) salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.
  • Claims can be made for employees who were employed on 30 October 2020, provided a PAYE ‘real time information’ submission to HMRC was made between the 20 March 2020 and 30 October 2020, notifying a payment of earnings for that employee. This may differ where an employee has been re-employed after 23 September 2020. 
  • 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 place employees on furlough leave for whatever fits with their business requirements, provided there is a written agreement in place. The claim for the grant will be for the hours not worked.
  • The scheme will remain open until 31 March, 2021 but the government will review the scheme in January 2021.

HMRC has confirmed the claims portal process remains the same – subject to changes for the November date ranges. 

But beware

HMRC intends to check claims and to publish those employers making claims. Fraudulent claims will carry a penalty.

Vanessa Sanders (right) is a partner with accountancy, finance and tax advisory medical specialists Stanbridge Associates