Coronavirus Guidance: What the ‘Furlough’ scheme changes mean for you

As England enters a third national lockdown, the government has extended the ‘furlough’ scheme by a month. What do these changes mean for you?

Furlough scheme update written in text

As things change rapidly during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, this guide will be updated regularly to reflect changes in rules and regulations.

With the government announcing a new lockdown to curb the alarming increase in coronavirus cases in the country, the government has also announced an extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), known commonly as the ‘furlough’ scheme, to 30 April 2021.

Previously, the CJRS has been extended in November, when the tiered form of restrictions were put in place.

How the scheme works remains unchanged. However, there are a couple of things to be aware of:

  1. Claims for furlough days in December 2020 must be made by 14 January 2021

  2. You can no longer submit claims for claim periods ending on or before 31 October 2020.

How will the extended furlough scheme work?

The CJRS, which provides a monthly government payment to employees who cannot work, was originally set to end on 31 October. 

During October, employees who were furloughed could receive 80% of their regular salary, up to a maximum amount of £2,500 per month. An estimated 2 million people were on furlough at the end of October.

I’m already furloughed - Will my furlough payments continue as normal?

The short answer is yes. Employees who are currently on the CJRS should not notice any difference to their furlough payments in November. 

It should only be your employer that notices the changes to the way the scheme will operate over the coming month. 

While furloughed employees have been receiving 80% of their monthly salary since the scheme started in March 2020, employers have had to cover an increasing amount of that over recent months. 

From November employers will only need to cover the cost of these employees’ pension and national insurance contributions. 

I have not received any furlough payments before - can I still apply for the scheme?

Yes, the government has confirmed that you can apply to receive CJRS payments even if you have not been furloughed before. But you do need to have been on your employer’s PAYE payroll on 30 October to be eligible for furlough payments. 

Your employer does not need to have made use of the furlough scheme before to sign you up to the scheme from this month.

Will I still be able to work part-time while receiving furlough payments?

Yes. Since July employers have been able to bring staff back to work part-time on full pay, and furlough workers for the rest of the time. This is set to continue.

Is the furlough scheme only being extended across England?

No, those in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can also continue to receive furlough payments. This is despite the fact that the other parts of the UK are subject to different COVID-19 restrictions to those in England.

What does lockdown mean for the Job Support Scheme? 

The government has said that the current furlough scheme is set to end at the end of March 2021.