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The announcement by the Prime Minister on the 31 October of a second lockdown in England contained confirmation that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (the ‘furlough scheme’) would be extended until 30 November.  The extension applies to all UK nations.

The Job Support Scheme which was due to start on 1 November has therefore been delayed until the end of the extended furlough scheme.   The UK Government has confirmed that the Furlough scheme extension will apply to all UK nations,.

Key Features of the extended furlough scheme include:

  • Employees eligible to 80% of usual wages up to a maximum of £2,500 per month;
  • The Government will cover 80% of the usual wages  (in September this had reduced to 70%, October to 60%);
  • The employer must pay employer’s national insurance and pension contributions, these are not claimable;
  • Flexible furlough will be allowed as well as full furlough;
  • Employers can top up employee wages if they wish.
  • Employee must have been on the payroll on 30 October 2020

The rules seem similar to those that were in place for August 2020 with the one key difference being that the employee could have been on the payroll at 30 October (not just on 19 March).  There is no mention in the (currently limited) guidance that the employee need to have been previously furloughed (a key condition for being flexibly furloughed before).   The methodology of calculating hours and wages will remain the same but it’s not yet clear whether usual wage is now based on that at 30 October and not February 2020.  Further detail will be issued shortly by HMRC.

In summary, the Furlough Scheme is being extended for another month and the JSS Open / JSS Closed schemes are not starting until at least December.  While the support is certainly welcome its announcement so late in the month will mean that a number of employers will already have made many staff redundant.