On line portal for reclaiming monies, how will it work and when?
The Government select committee sat yesterday on the question of furlough leave, with members of HMRC answering questions. The following information was supplied:
The Government portal will be open for employers to use on 20 April, and not 30 April as previously implied, so that employers can reclaim the 80% of salary under the Government scheme. The first payments should be made on 30 April. The aim is that payments will be made between 4 to 6 working days of submission, to allow for initial checking.
HMRC is suggesting that it will be able to deal with up to 450,000 claims per hour. A guidance document on how to compile and present claims will be released to employers within the next week. The aim is that employers can ready their claims ahead of 20 April. Claims can be submitted weekly for those who normally run their payroll on a weekly basis. But only one claim can be made per pay period, whether that pay period is normally weekly or monthly.
It is anticipated that a high proportion of the first claims will include claims for lay-off (now furlough) backdated to 01 March. Claims can be submitted up to 14 days in advance, meaning that if a monthly pay period goes to the 31st of a month, a claim can be submitted 14 days before that payroll date (save for April when the portal opens on the 20th of the month, giving up to 10 days submission in advance). It is to be assumed that for employees who will not have not reached 3 full weeks furlough leave by end April, those weeks’ rebate can be reclaimed through the employer’s May submission, as March claims will be done through the April claim. However, it is not clear whether periods of furlough less than three weeks can be claimed in the April portal submissions. Next week’s guidance document will hopefully give us definitive answers on that front. Employers should get their furlough arrangements in place as quickly as possible to ensure that their claims can be repaid in a timely fashion. Please contact us if you need further advice on how to furlough your employees lawfully and the current timeframes for reimbursement.
There are no plans to extend the scheme to incorporate those employees that started after 28 February 2020.
It was also made quite clear that employees cannot work for their employer - there is a hotline for employees to report employers who are requiring them to work. HMRC has stated that if there is any evidence of a breach of the rules, claims will simply not be paid out. There is also an ability to check claims going forwards. Records of furlough decisions will be required to be retained by employers for five years in order that HMRC can carry out audits. Depending on the severity of an employer’s conduct, fraudulent activity uncovered after the event could quite feasibly result in criminal proceedings being considered.