The Job Retention Bonus Scheme will enable eligible employers to claim £1,000 for each eligible employee in respect of whom they have previously made a valid claim under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and who remains in continuous employment until at least 31 January 2021 following the closure of the CJRS on 31 October 2020. Some guidance on how the scheme will operate has now been published.
A recently released policy paper indicates that the one-off bonus payment is intended to provide additional support to employers who keep on their furloughed employees in “meaningful employment” after the CJRS ends and it states that further detailed guidance on the operation of the scheme will be published in September 2020.
Employers will be able to claim the bonus via GOV.UK, after they have filed PAYE for January 2021 and payments, will be made from February 2021.
Employers will be able to claim for employees who:
■ Were furloughed and had a CJRS claim submitted for them that meets all relevant eligibility criteria for the scheme
■ Have been continuously employed by the employer from the time of the employer’s most recent claim for that employee until at least 31 January 2021
■ Have been paid an average of at least £520 a month between 1 November 2020 and 31 January 2021, i.e. a total of at least £1,560 across the three months – the employee does not have to be paid £520 in each month but must have received some earnings in each of the three calendar months that have been paid and reported to HMRC via Real Time Information (RTI), and only earnings recorded through RTI records can count towards the average minimum earnings threshold
■ Are not serving a contractual or statutory notice period that started before 1 February 2021
■ Have up-to-date RTI records for the period to the end of January 2021.
HMRC will withhold payment of the bonus where it believes there is a risk that CJRS claims may have been fraudulent or inflated until the enquiry is completed.
Based on the rules as above the bonus would appear to be applicable to company directors, despite the fact that this doesn’t appear to meet the intentions of the scheme in terms of encouraging employers to keep furloughed staff in meaningful employment.