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What problems remain with CJRS (furlough) claims?

Do you have issues with CJRS calculations, the claims process, or how to declare the grants?

Didn't find your answer?

HMRC is setting up a new CJRS stakeholder forum, which will meet for the first time on 24 June.

Payroll guru Kate Upcraft will be attending and she wants to know what niggling problems smaller employers and accountancy firms still have with the CJRS. Please let us know about any outstanding issues you have, so Kate can raise the points at that forum. 

Replies (20)

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By Duggimon
10th Jun 2021 11:13

Splitting it by calendar months is an absolute pain. Most of our variable payrolls are four weekly and it's been a constant nuisance.

This isn't so much a niggle that remains rather than one introduced by HMRC part way through the scheme though, so presumably they have a reason for it and no intention of changing it.

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By Yeadonian
10th Jun 2021 14:29

Agree with this. We have 3 companies in our group, each with 2 payrolls. All staff are paid on the last Friday of the month, but Salaried staff are paid for the whole calendar month, and hourly-paid staff are paid for hours worked up to the previous Sunday, which can be either 4 or 5 weeks depending on the month.

As I can only submit one claim per company, and cannot overlap months, I have to work out furlough pay for payroll purposes, then adjust all the hourly-paid staff by adding in the last week or so of the month (which hasn't yet gone through payroll), and deducting the bit which falls into the previous month (which has already been claimed for).

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By Wanderer
10th Jun 2021 11:23

"CJRS stakeholder forum, which will meet for the first time on 24 June."
Seriously?
15 months into the system when we've had to work out all the nuances ourselves to jump through HMRC's hoops.
3 months to go.
What exactly is the point?

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By Paul Crowley
10th Jun 2021 11:28

+1
The niggle is that it still exists across all sectors and paying the wages of people who have no job and have not had a job for months.
Come the finish, a lot of companies will be struck off or abandoned.

Any state aid should be aimed at particular industries

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By Mature Student
14th Jun 2021 11:04

Except CJRS was always just a way of getting Employers / those who do their payroll to become a shadow DWP. Since DWP would have collapsed under the weight of UC/JCA/etc claims from people suddenly without a job => no income, and next to no savings (often due to living from pay cheque to pay cheque as a result of the contrary position of a legislated minimum pay rate being less than the amount the state deems is needed to live on so it's topped up by benefits &/or 'credits').
Meanwhile the Government & media continue to peddle the them & us lies leading to division between those on benefits and those in work. In normal times a sizable portion of those in work receive benefits, and for the past 15 months a majority has been on state benefits, just called furlough instead.

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By Paul Crowley
14th Jun 2021 15:07

Agree it was state intrusion expecting employers to subsidise the benefits system
Pension and ERNIC still paid by employer
Extra wages processing for furlough paid by employer.
Holiday pay still required for employees that have not worked

Employers facing significant extra costs because HM Gov cannot cope.
Penalties for every error despite HMRC and HM Gov changing the rules regularly
Demands that every calculation is remade on every change
Threats of 100% penalties if not corrected within 90 days

Cannot wait for furlough RIP

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By Hugo Fair
10th Jun 2021 12:29

Not strictly a CJRS issue, but an unknown (to me) waiting in the wings of furlough ...

Employer A flexi furloughed employee X, who (as that was allowed) got a part-time job with Employer B.
Employer A now wants employee X to come off furlough entirely, but employee X isn't available to do so (because Employer B wishes to continue employing employee X, who also likes the variety of having two jobs).
Who has what rights?

[Can Employer A take a refusal to return full-time as breaking original employment contract? Or can employee X refuse the demand for 'extra' hours? Does Employer B have any say in any of this?]

I know this is all employment law related but (along with how to handle employees who refuse to return to work in offices or who demand to know the vaccination status of co-workers) these are the issues confronting employers as CJRS winds down - not how to calculate/claim from HMRC (which is mostly seen now as too little too late).

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By Hazel Accounts
14th Jun 2021 14:05

Furlough is a temporary leave of absence and thus the employer (A) can require the employee to return to their full hours. It is potentially a breach of the original employment contract if they don't but it may depend on whether any variation to the employment contract was made to cover furlough and if so was it written - did A's employment contract permit them taking another job and were there any terms eg you must be free to return to job A with one weeks notice.

Employer B should have no say unless employee has signed an employment contract with B that he can't now fulfil and then the employee has a problem as he/she has comitted to 2 incompatible contracts!

More pragmatically making an employee come back to something they don't want to do may not work out well for A. Can they not negotiate a revised contract? Without having an idea of the nature of the job/work/sector it's hard to know if that's a possibility. It may be better to negotiate something that works for all otherwise they need to get proper HR advice.

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By Hugo Fair
14th Jun 2021 15:21

Thanks ... but those weren't real companies, and I wasn't seeking answers from this forum. I was responding to OP's "Payroll guru Kate Upcraft will be attending (a new CJRS stakeholder forum) and she wants to know what niggling problems smaller employers and accountancy firms still have with the CJRS. Please let us know about any outstanding issues you have, so Kate can raise the points."

I agree that my points are to do with employment law (not CJRS itself) ... but it's not "proper HR advice" that's needed, it's guidance & (new) policies from the govt.

FWIW I don't agree with much of your analysis (at least within this simplistic format):
* Furlough is not merely "a temporary leave of absence", it is (if correctly performed per govt guidelines) a written variation to the previously existing employment contract.
Unfortunately there was little in the way of legal advice when this was all being rushed through, so the chances are that different employers will have used very different terminology (and addressed or omitted to address different aspects).
So, each employer/employee scenario that I envisaged may (or more likely may not) have terms that cover the 'return to normal' post-furloughing.

* If A's original employment contract explicitly prevents an employee from taking another job, then it will have been unenforceable in the majority of cases (although short-term competitive restraints can be OK as are all-embracing health standards in potentially dangerous work environments).
But any attempt by A to write such restraint terms into the furlough agreement would be held invalid if the employer went on claim CJRS, as one of the conditions was furloughed employees be allowed to take concurrent employment elsewhere.

Despite all this (and much more which is why I raised the point for Kate), I DO agree with you about the pragmatic aspects. However there are, and will be, plenty of employers feeling very hard done by ... if they've spent money on retaining employees who are then unwilling to return to work (full-time or at all).

This is the heart of the problem with furloughing and CJRS ... it was (of course) a govt solution to avoiding mass starvation and/or rioting - and as such essential.
BUT, despite the 'name on the tin', it has not guaranteed the retention of jobs (for employees) or the retention of a workforce (for employers).
There will be severe market dislocation for several years (even if which seems unlikely Covid-19 disappears) ... so both employers and employees had better get used to the competitive environment that existed before furloughing came along.

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By Hazel Accounts
15th Jun 2021 10:09

Hugo I have to disagree with one point - you say "one of the conditions was furloughed employees be allowed to take concurrent employment elsewhere".

That's not how I read it - the HMRC website says an employee can "work for another employer (if contractually allowed)"

There's nothing to say that they have to be allowed - I think permission should not be unreasonably withheld and may depend on whether employee is getting topped up furlough pay etc, but it is not a condition of furlough/CJRS.

I would sympathise with any employer whose staff don't want to come back after they have spent money retaining them, and this certainly wasn't the aim of the scheme, so I completely agree with your last paragraphs.

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By Hugo Fair
15th Jun 2021 13:54

Actually, I don't think we're in fundamental disagreement on any general aspect.

The point you raise (about 'if contractually allowed') is valid ... but very open to interpretation - mine being:
* Since almost no contract will have a term specifically allowing the employee to concurrently work for another employer, I read the phrase as intended to mean 'if contractually not prevented'.
* Perhaps more importantly, I also regard the contract being referred to as the one already in existence (not the variation or replacement drawn up specifically for the furlough agreement) - as otherwise the phrase has no practical meaning.

So, given my earlier comments about how few restraint clauses in employment contracts are actually enforceable, my somewhat simplified statement remains - that apart from those fairly rare cases where an enforceable restraint was already in place (in which case the new 'right' to work for another employer cannot undermine that restraint), then the furlough agreement cannot introduce a new restraint that prevents working for another employer.

IMHO it's a good example of why I said that it's not "proper HR advice" that's needed, it's guidance & (new) policies from the govt ... but at least we seem to agree on the iniquity of the position in which employers now find themselves.

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By tom123
10th Jun 2021 13:42

I just want the whole thing to stop now.
And I only have one payroll..

The whole basis of the calculation was bizarre, (ie including weekends etc, usual hours) bearing no resemblance to how anyone outside of public sector would even imagine running a payroll.

See also the strange link with holiday pay / entitlement / topping up..

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By Yeadonian
10th Jun 2021 14:49

Exactly. A standard full time office worker in May would have had 21 working days, at 7.5 hours each, so usual hours for any rational person would be 21 x 7.5 = 157.5 hours. If they were furloughed on Fridays, there were 4 Fridays in May, so 4 x 7.5 = 30 hours furlough pay.

Instead, I have to say that they were contracted for 37.5 hours, and divide this by 7 days in the calendar week, giving me 5.357... hours per day. Then I have to multiply this by the 31 calendar days in May, which gives me 166.07 hours, which I have to round down to 166. Then I have to say that they worked for 17 days, which is 127.5 hours. 166 - 127.5 = 38.5 hours furlough pay, which is a nonsense.

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By kathyk0410
10th Jun 2021 17:35

Yes I also struggled with May 21 Furlough as you say the numbers don't really work out - plus the fact that they were 2 BHs to throw into the mix. With a return to work and minimal Furlough, the discrepancies are more marked.

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By Barbara G
11th Jun 2021 18:47

Totally agree with the crossover calendar month issue, meaning double the claim process in a crossover week. We still have 23 weekly processed payrolls whereby flexi furlough has to be claimed on a weekly basis, which is extremely time consuming. Though I suppose with the claim reducing to 70% from July can't do much about that now.

Also, the lookback to the same calendar period in 2019 for variably paid employees has been very very time consuming and doesn't make much sense. Why can't it be the same tax period instead of calendar period, which would be easier to calculate? It's only a difference of 2 days anyway.

Finally, please, please, please, please, no matter what, under no circumstances agree to extend CJRS beyond 30th September 2021.

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By Hugo Fair
11th Jun 2021 21:24

In addition to the complexity of the calc process (and resultant uncertainty) - as mentioned by others here - there is a lack of detail regarding entitlement (or lack of it) when circumstances change.
Often the 'moral' perspective feels clear but is at odds with the Agents disinclination to tell the client to stop claiming (which is technically the client's choice) in the absence of clear instructions.

Recent examples on this site have included:
* https://www.accountingweb.co.uk/any-answers/overdrawn-directors-loan-acc...
* https://www.accountingweb.co.uk/any-answers/employing-new-staff-while-ot...
* https://www.accountingweb.co.uk/any-answers/cjrs-abuse-if-no-company-inc...
* https://www.accountingweb.co.uk/any-answers/emerging-from-lockdown-and-u...
* https://www.accountingweb.co.uk/any-answers/cjrs-sense-check-employee-re...
... and these are just a random selection from less than a third of CJRS-related posts since Jan this year!

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By Paul Crowley
12th Jun 2021 13:08

Good news for me is that the Pub client has decided to drop all furlough at the end of this month.
Paying 80% recovering 60% means he would be facing 25% of gross and all ERNIC and all Employers Pension.

Not helpful for a damaged by covid business

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By petestar1969
14th Jun 2021 11:09

The main (frankly, only) remaining problem with furlough claims is that they can still be made. The scheme should have been shut down at the end of March.

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By NYB
14th Jun 2021 11:27

Totally agree with everything. This forum was needed this time last year. We have all struggled and spent hours doing it and working with the complicated legislation. Zero hours employees were the worst. But I presume initially "Thems In Power" didnt think of anyone other than those are a regular salary.
its far too late now UNLESS something is known that we dont that Furlough will continue beyond September.

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Danny Kent
By Viciuno
14th Jun 2021 18:28

Agree with the above points. To add though, another gripe is that the claim process is unnecessarily repetitive:

- Client address
- Client bank details

I've now given this to HMRC (what feels like) a million times - why do you need me to type it in again! Even worse though, the print screen of the "check your claims" doesn't include the employer address so I need to open the original claim details from last year (which did "print screen" it) to copy paste.

The 14 day claim limit is particularly annoying with the calendar month claims. For example, a payroll that runs to 20th of the month. We need to now contact start of following month for details of previous month end, process furlough claim before 14th to then have to contact client again on the 20th for the 1-20th hours. Just a pain.

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