The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (JRS)
The current JRS allows an employer to place an employee on furlough and apply for a grant to cover wage costs for the time an employee is on furlough. The employer:
- can claim 80% of ‘usual salary’ for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per employee (pro-rated for hours not worked) per month
- needs to fund employer National Insurance contributions (NICs) and the minimum employer automatic enrolment pension contributions.
In December 2020, the Chancellor extended the scheme until the end of April 2021.
Further extension of JRS
In Budget 2021 the Chancellor has further extended the scheme to 30 September 2021.
The level of grant available to employers under the scheme will stay the same until 30 June 2021.
From 1 July 2021, the level of grant will be reduced and employers will be asked to contribute towards the cost of furloughed employees’ wages. To be eligible for the grant an employer must continue to pay furloughed employees 80% of their wages, up to a cap of £2,500 per month for the time they spend on furlough.
The reduction in the level of the grant means that the percentage recovery of furloughed wages will be as follows:
- for July 2021 70% of furloughed wages up to a maximum of £2187.50 and
- for August and September 2021 60% of furloughed wages up to a maximum of £1,875.00.
Employers will need to continue to fund employer NICs and mandatory minimum automatic enrolment pension contributions.
The Chancellor has also extended eligibility for the scheme. For periods starting on or after 1 May 2021, employers can claim for employees who were employed on 2 March 2021, as long as a PAYE Real Time Information (RTI) submission was made between 20 March 2020 and 2 March 2021, notifying a payment of earnings for that employee.
Apprenticeships and traineeships
High quality traineeships for young people
The government will provide an additional £126 million in England for high quality work placements and training for 16-24 year olds in the 2021/22 academic year. Employers who provide trainees with work experience will continue to be funded at a rate of £1,000 per trainee.
Payments for employers who hire new apprentices
The government will extend and increase the payments made to employers in England who hire new apprentices. Employers who hire a new apprentice between 1 April 2021 and 30 September 2021 will receive £3,000 per new hire, compared with £1,500 per new apprentice hire (or £2,000 for those aged 24 and under) under the previous scheme.
This is in addition to the existing £1,000 payment the government provides for all new 16-18 year-old apprentices and those aged under 25 with an Education, Health and Care Plan, where that applies.
Supporting apprenticeships across different employers
The government will introduce a £7 million fund from July 2021 to help employers in England set up and expand portable apprenticeships. This will enable people who need to work across multiple projects with different employers to benefit from the high quality long-term training that an apprenticeship provides.
Off-payroll working in the private sector
New tax rules are soon to come into force for individuals who provide their personal services via an ‘intermediary’ to a medium or large business. The new rules apply to payments made for services provided on or after 6 April 2021.
The off-payroll working rules apply where an individual (the worker) provides their services through an intermediary (typically a personal service company) to another person or entity (the client). The client will be required to make a determination of a worker’s status and communicate that determination. In addition, the fee-payer (usually the organisation paying the worker’s personal service company) will need to make deductions for income tax and NICs and pay any employer NICs.
The legislation uses an existing statutory definition within the Companies Act of a ‘small company’ to exempt small businesses from the new rules. A small company is one which meets two of these criteria:
- a turnover of £10.2 million or less
- having £5.1 million on the balance sheet or less
- having 50 or fewer employees.
If the business receiving the work of the individual is not a company, it is only the turnover test that will apply.
In the Budget the government announced minor technical changes to improve the operation of the rules, in response to feedback from stakeholders, which will be legislated for in Finance Bill 2021. The government will make changes to the rules regarding provision of information by parties in the labour supply chain.