As the pace of change has been so quick, moving forwards we will bring service updates together onto this page.
We are registered as an essential service provider with the Department of Health and Social Care during the COVID pandemic.
Open hours: During the COVID 19 pandemic please send your payroll instructions early and allow extra time for processing. As with the previous lockdowns we may be closing one or both offices for some or all of the day on Thursdays and Fridays, this will depend upon the work load on the particular day as well as our local lockdown tier. We will be available on normal working hours otherwise.
Most people seem to now have furlough in hand but we have had a few questions come up worth mentioning here:
- Ending SMP early to come back to furlough – Yes this appears to be possible, there are rules and 8 weeks notice is expected but this appears to be an option.
- Employees on furlough who become sick must be paid at least the SSP rate but they could remain on furlough instead. Furlough can be reclaimed, SSP cannot unless in some circumstances when it is COVID related.
- February – The maximum furlough rate has been confirmed as £2500 for monthly paid employees rather than 4 x weekly rate. For those of you using the flexi furlough sheet you will need to manually adjust to show monthly instead of 4-weekly.
Happy New Year! We are still operating as normally as possible, we are already registered as essential workers and we have reviewed our Covid risk assessment. There may be some disruption and we urge everyone to send their payroll instruction early wherever possible but if you cannot meet normal deadlines and need to move your pay day later please let us know in good time. We wish everyone well in this current lockdown.
Another update spotted with furlough pay – more details were released earlier this month for when and what is going to be published for employers claiming furlough. Employers claiming furlough from 1st December will be made public from February together with the banding for the total value of the claim, it is possible to request for your details not to be published but you must contact HMRC directly.
As both our offices are at either end of Milton Keynes we are in tier 4. We are continuing as usual and the offices remain separated, we also plan to continue with the previously notified Christmas hours. We have no staff absent due to self isolation at the moment but this is a rapidly changing situation and we can process all payrolls from either location as well as send BACS payments. The hours we expect to be available are as follows:
- Christmas Eve 9am – 2pm
- Christmas Day Closed
- Monday 28th December Closed
- 29th December 9am – 2pm
- 30th December 9am – 2pm
- 31st December 9am – 2pm
- 1st January (Friday) Closed
- 4th January 9am – 5:30pm back to ‘normal’
14th December Deadline = Monday
This is the first time the short deadlines have been applied for furlough claims. Claims for the period ending 30th November need to be submitted by 11:59pm 14 calendar days after the end of the month, so by midnight on Monday.
We have had a few enquiries about how to calculate the employees reference wage to use in furlough and this is a little unclear from the current guidance. There appears to be three main options and it is up to the employer to determine the best for their particular circumstances:
- The reference wage used from last March; this option can be used for previously furloughed employees
- The wage from the equivalent period last tax year; this could work well if the work is very seasonal
- The wage for the last pay period prior to 30th October; this is for employees on a fixed salary who were working rather than furlough
If employees are on variable wages then the reference wage from last March can be used if they were previously furloughed or an average can be used for the period 6th April to 1st November 2020. For employees on a fixed salary not on furlough the third option is bar far the most simple if it fits. The advice from HMRC is frequently updated and should be checked before a decision is made. Good records and consistency will be important.
We have updated the flexible furlough spreadsheet. This is now more open and you will select the number of days in the pay period rather than a particular month. The sheet should also cope with partial periods of furlough as well as flexible furlough and again help meet your HMRC record requirements. There is a note that we do not know what will happen in February with the payment caps but we will hopefully get some notice from HMRC.
It has just been announced that the furlough scheme will be with us until at least January and may be extended to March. We will re-write the flexible furlough sheet and I suspect permanently shelve the Job Support Scheme preparation.
We now know why the promised update to the Job Support Scheme failed to arrive. We have a few notes on what we know so far on the furlough extension but although we have been told the scheme will be very similar to August we still need confirmation to be confident. The flexible furlough template can help if you have not had to calculate this before as it does require some care. The furlough scheme is more straightforward and generous than JSS (open) or JSS(closed) however.
There should be more details for JSS (open) and JSS (closed) by the end of this week. From what we have seen so far we are expecting an approach similar to flexible furlough, so we are developing a spreadsheet to aid with calculations but we will not release this until the further details have been published. Employees cannot be JSS (closed) and JSS (open) at the same time and we suggest avoid both in the same pay period. The scheme is complex but appears similar to the flexible furlough of the past two months.
Job Support Scheme is now JSS(open) and JSS(closed). Full details are promised from HMRC at the end of month but some highlights:
- Larger companies with over 250 employees have some tests before they can claim for JSS(open)
- JSS(open) is where there is decreased demand but the business is operating
- JSS(closed) is where an employer has to close their premises as a result of COVID
- JSS(open) – the minimum hours worked is now 20% and the government will reimburse 95% of the additional 66.67% pay for hours not worked up to a cap
- JSS(closed) – the employee will receive to thirds of their normal pay up to a cap, and this will be reimbursed by the government
- Employer’s National Insurance and pension contributions are not covered by either scheme
- The employer must pay the employees before each claim is made
- Any payments to employees above the minimums are voluntary and will not be reimbursed.
Further details are available here and we will publish some additional material once we have more information.
The Job Support Scheme Expansion is for employers affected by business closures due to COVID, and will operate differently to the previously announced job support scheme. Further details are available here.
The full details of the Job Support Scheme are still not confirmed. At the moment we think it will be best to either just put the whole payment through as a single payment, or split into two between the worked amount and the job support amount. The detail we are waiting for:
- What is ‘normal’ for the reference pay/hours worked
- How will the cap work
- If at the cap does the employer match the cap or make up the difference
The claim process will be between the employer and HMRC, but is likely to be similar to the furlough process. We do not know what details will be required, and whether these will be a company total or per employee. There may well be a threshold again, above which individual employee details will be required.
We have successfully registered ourselves as an essential service provider, which will enable faster access to COVID testing.
A few people have contacted us about the Job Support Scheme launching on 1st November but we still don’t have enough details to know how this is going to work. The basic set up is that the employee must work at least a third of their normal hours but can work more, the difference between their normal wages and the wages worked is then divided by three. The government will reimburse a third, the employer pays a third and the employee loses a third. There is a cap for the government support but it is unclear how this will work at the moment.
We anticipate yet another spreadsheet to assist people where they wish to make use of the scheme. The amount paid to the employees will need to be reported via RTI, but again there will be nothing specific within the RTI submission to differentiate between hours worked and hours topped up.
This is the final month of the furlough scheme, with the employee still receiving the 80% of the wages up to the cap but the Government only reimbursing 60%. There is the new Job Support Scheme but this looks very different from furlough; further details will follow when we have worked out the best way this might be reflected in the payroll.
For workers still furloughed this month the amount available to claim from the government is reducing from 80% to 70%, but the employee still receives the 80% with the employer making up the shortfall. We have an amended spreadsheet to assist with the claim should it be helpful, as you still need to show the 80% paid to the employee and the reduced claim is calculated outside of the payroll.
Furlough pay claims are being reduced from this month, and we have had some questions regarding September and October. For payroll purposes everything remains the same, the employee will be paid the 80% furlough payment as previously and have National Insurance and pension contributions calculated normally. The difference is the total amount that can be claimed, and we have some further notes here.
September claim = Total Furlough Pay / 8 x 7
October claim = Total Furlough Pay / 8 x 6
We have also had some questions regarding Employment Allowance, as some companies are considering making the claim later in the tax year, our understanding is that this is not compliant, and we have some further notes here.
The spreadsheet to help with claims for furlough for the month of July has an error, we have taken the sheet down and will be uploading a revised version shortly. We also need to amend the csv sent with your payroll reports, we aim to have this work completed by the end of today. Now complete – see here for the new version.
This month has less working days, meaning payroll processing will be compressed, please send your instruction early where possible and allow for extra processing time.
A reminder that all furlough claims for June and earlier must have been completed by this Friday, 31st July. July is a unique month for furlough and claims cannot span either side, so it is likely that it will not be possible to combine August with July for claims either. From August it will no longer be possible to claim for employer’s National Insurance or pension contributions.
We have uploaded a spreadsheet to help check furlough claims made for the month of July.
We have updated the flexible furlough spreadsheet to fix and error with the formula in column H. You can find a copy. The hours in the work pattern is causing some confusion, as it is the number of hours worked in each cycle, which includes days off. This means if you work a 40 hour week, it is 40 hours every 7 days not 5 days.
There are several changes anticipated on the 1st July with the CJRS, and further details were announced on Friday. We have highlighted in more detail a few of the changes here, but some key points:
- July is to be treated separately and claims cannot cross this month
- Flexible furlough arrives, with workers allowed to remain furloughed whilst working reduced hours
- Workers must have been furloughed for a period of at least 3 weeks prior to 1st July to qualify for furlough payments from this point
- There are changes to the amount of employers NI that can be claimed where there is additional pay
- From 1st August no employers NI or pension can be claimed
- From 1st September the employer will be expected to contribute to furlough pay
We have updated the furlough pay spreadsheet to add a check for the 13.8% of grant NI cap. There is a lot of information coming out at the moment but all is subject to change, so we will hold on publishing anything further on the developments with furlough pay until next week
We have received a notification that there has been another small change in the CJRS calculation for employers National Insurance. This will not affect many people but there will now be a cap of 13.8% of the gross pay grant for the NI element of the CJRS. This will be on the HMRC calculator and we will update our spreadsheet as well.
If you are preparing a file with over 100 employees for a CJRS grant, HMRC have provided an example template where they have simplified the data requirements slightly.
The details on the calculation for part time + furlough, to be introduced from 1st July, are due to be announced on the 12th. Past experience of CJRS suggests it would be unwise to speculate what these will be, and even the announcement on the 12th is unlikely to hold the same information and instruction and what will be used in July. We will be sending another email once more information is available together with some of the other items to be aware of this tax year.
The online portal for companies with fewer than 250 employee to reclaim COVID-19 related SSP will be open from 26th May. There are few additional details at the moment, just a reminder to hold onto the evidence and have it available when the claim is made – https://www.gov.uk/employers-sick-pay/help-with-sick-pay
Due to the latest changes in the furlough pay guidance, from this point on we are switching to calendar days for mid-pay period furlough dates. Although HMRC have said they will accept the fairer system of using working days for workers with an annual salary, there have been issues where a worker is only furloughed for a day or two of the pay period immediately followed by a claim. This will not affect those workers furloughed for the whole pay period.
We have had a few questions regarding RTI and furlough pay and some of the HMRC guidance has been a little ambiguous. There is nothing in the RTI that differentiates furlough payments, they are reported in the same as any other payment. A payment is report via RTI, and this should be recorded in your records that it was related to furlough pay.
There has been some clarification in the guidance about payments that can be used in the reference pay for the furlough pay calculation. Non-discretionary payments can be considered – https://www.gov.uk/guidance/work-out-80-of-your-employees-wages-to-claim-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme#ndp
The changes in the way that NI and pension payments were to be apportioned where there was a mix of furlough and non-furlough payments in the same pay period, meant that we withdrew the reports we were preparing. We have a csv now available on request, which can be dropped into this excel document.
This is an aid to calculating the totals where you have a mix of payment types, but you may need to add extra details depending on the complexity of your payroll. You do not need the specific csv, you can also use the payroll csv but this is a little less convenient.
If you have a salary sacrifice scheme you should already have spoken to your pensions provider. This is a far more complex arrangement for furlough pay, and other salary sacrifice arrangements should also be taken into account. Our calculations would not work directly if there are salary sacrifice schemes in place.
There have been some further updates and clarification within the furlough pay guidance, as well as a note of caution if the calculator is to be used for employees with an annual salary. The examples of how to calculate the NI and pension where an employee is furloughed for the whole period are in line with the original guidance, but we would still recommend just using the totals as outlined in our reports. There have also been updates for company directors and employees receiving maternity allowance, although we imagine company directors will be featured in further updates.
If you are making a claim and you are also claiming Employment Allowance (now £4000 from April) then you need to ensure you do not claim too much employers National Insurance. ie don’t claim if you were not going to pay anyway.
We have update our guidance on NI and Pension calculations as some people have been making this more complex
We have differing reports of how straightforward the CJRS grant application has been. The pattern seems to be where employees are furlough for the whole pay period, and the pension is based on qualifying earnings the application is far easier. We have been seeking some clarification and reassurance from HMRC this morning and they have confirmed that the calculations below can be used for monthly workers as they are based on the average monthly salary. However they also said “HMRC is aware in some instances that the calculator figure is not always matching up with figures calculated manually and they are looking into it”.
One thing we were told to watch for was the start date of the furlough period, so this must be a common issue in the first round of applications. It is the date the furlough starts not the start of the pay period that is required.
We have also had it pointed out that there is no evidence of the calculation when the HMRC calculator is used, so it would be a struggle in a future audit to show what values were entered and how the results were calculated. Again, please make sure you keep good records especially if this is your preferred method.
This is some information about a specific sector, but was one of the first available government sources so we expected the principles to be carried across even if some of the logic is not quite there. They talk about working days used to calculate furlough pay, and for monthly paid workers, but then it gets complicated when it is capped at 20 days, so four weeks = 1 month. It is not really surprising there is a certain amount of confusion.
We expect further guidance to be forthcoming about the NI and pension pro rata. The original guidance indicated that a relatively simple calculation would work deducting a lower threshold and then a percentage of the remainder but this was changed last week (as previously mentioned!). The report we had developed was unfortunately withdrawn, as once it was no longer possible to consistently provide indicative pension and NI values it lost its value. For clarification we are not able to hold the furlough dates in payroll, and there is no furlough indicator in the RTI that is returned to HMRC.
We have been extremely busy and it seems likely over 80% of our clients have at least some furloughed employees. We are very stretched but we are turning around your payrolls and have nearly completed the month.
There have been more updates to the Government CJRS guidance, some helpful and some less so. Some of their calculation examples are poor, and will be pulled down, so if you are reading and it is not making sense do not panic. The way the furlough pay is calculated and pro rata calculations made is not industry standard for salaried monthly employees, and so some caution needs to be used if you are not used to pro rata calculations. You have three choices:
- Use our calculations, based on 260 working days per year for a five day worker
- Use your calculations (there are other standard methods accepted by HMRC)
- Use HMRC calculations based on the number of days in the month
The important thing is to be consistent, and remember to keep good records. For your information the standard daily rate calculation we use for a monthly salaried worker, working 5 days per week, is as follows:
Monthly Salary x 12 / 260
If you use our calculations then submit to our totals, pro rata the pension and NI if necessary, and do not use the HMRC calculator. If you use the HMRC calculator be careful and keep good records as potentially you will introduce error with varying pay each month for salaried workers. If they are furloughed for a full month 80% of the normal monthly salary would seem more sensible and more robust against challenge.
The guidance on pension calculation has also changed, and now the lower level for qualifying earnings can be prorated where only a part of the period is furloughed. Furlough pay is becoming more complex.
In the guidance on qualification there is some clarification on the join date for an employee to qualify, they need to have joined and been reported on an RTI submission by 19th March. If you have a monthly payroll and your pay date is after the 20th March then the employee should be on the February payroll to qualify, the start date does not matter if they were not reported in the February payroll. We report to HMRC either the day before pay day or on pay day, or the reporting is late.
We also have a small number of clients who report that HMRC claim they do not exist. We do not know the cause of the issue and so far it has not been resolved, but we will post the solution if we find one that is useful.
There is a step by step guide now available – https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/880099/Coronavirus_Job_Retention_Scheme_step_by_step_guide_for_employers.pdf – which gives examples of what HMRC expects. This is the first time they have released anything like this and should be read before submitting a claim. The period referenced is for March where there was some salary and some furlough, and the pro-rata method HMRC has used will not necessarily work in all scenarios and it should be noted HMRC are using slightly different methods for the pension and the national insurance.
There is now a calculator HMRC have released to help calculate the 80% furlough pay – https://www.gov.uk/guidance/work-out-80-of-your-employees-wages-to-claim-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme
The CJRS portal has been promised to be open on Monday, but there are still further updates to the guidance. If you are planning to make a claim on Monday there may be some manual calculations you will need to make, or you may be able to take values directly from your payroll reports. We have some notes on National Insurance and Auto-enrolment Pensions to help but it is possible the requirements will change again. If you have more than 100 furloughed employees you will need to construct a file to upload, but the file requirements are really quite vague at the moment and are another thing changed today. Remember, you need to keep records for 5 years.
The lockdown has not ended but given the short weeks we will be continuing but rotating staff as necessary. Please send your payroll information early and allow us extra time to turn it around. At the moment we are planning to close on Thursday 30th April and Friday 1st May, and will remain open otherwise.
HMRC have sent out a slightly ambiguous email regarding the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, and we have had a number of enquiries. There have been no confirmed details released yet, but it is clear HMRC are preparing even if everything is subject to change. There are a few items to give you for now:
- We are an RTI filing agent only, we do not interact with HMRC on your behalf for other services
- It is now confirmed that the claim will be made outside of payroll, and you must keep good records.
- We expect to produce reports and/or data to aid with the claim, but we do not know what will be required or how much we will be able to provide.
Welcome to the new tax year! We have all payrolls in the 20/21 tax year now and we are available on Monday to Wednesday this week, but plan to close on Thursday. There have been more updates to the furlough information, and record keeping is mentioned so please make sure you follow the guidance. There has also been an update on how the claims may work for SSP for those organisations with less than 250 employees, and record keeping is mention again: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-back-statutory-sick-pay-paid-to-employees-due-to-coronavirus-covid-19
We shall be closed tomorrow and Friday and will re-open on Monday 6th April. The last few payrolls of this tax year will be completed shortly. There are more updates becoming available regard the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and furloughed workers, and we have some updates here.
We are monitoring the BACS submissions this morning, but HMRC have sent further details regarding furloughed workers: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme
You will need to read through yourself but a few key points:
- You pay the employee the 80% or £2500 cap, and claim this from the government.
- You can choose to top this up if you wish
- Vulnerable workers that have to self isolate can be classed as furloughed workers
- The scheme should be up and running by the end of April
There is now an FAQ available answering a few questions regarding the funding available for business – https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/faqs/
We shall be closing shortly and we shall be available again on Monday 30th March.
We have published a few notes on Furloughed Workers as there seems a lot of confusion with the limited amount of information available. Please see here
We are in the office and are very busy finishing payrolls, but we need to look at reducing our contact hours, and increasing our staff’s ability to stay at home. We are going to close for the day on Friday 27th March.
For the weeks commencing 30th March and 6th April we shall be open and operating as normal Monday to Wednesday but closing for Thursday and Friday. We will return to full open hours on Tuesday 14th April following Easter. This is the plan for the three weeks of the increased lock down, but we may need to extend or amend our hours.
If we make BACS payments on your behalf these will continue as normal, but you will need to make sure you still have staff that can monitor and interact with your company’s BACS portal.
We also continue to request that payroll information comes to us early, and changes are kept to a minimum. Our turnaround time is likely to be slower than usual.
“HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. HMRC are working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement. Existing systems are not set up to facilitate payments to employers.”
We are getting a lot of enquiries already this morning, but we do not have any details either. It appears this will be claimed separately to PAYE via an online application, probably in a similar or the same portal as SSP.
Small and medium sized businesses will be able to reclaim SSP for sickness absence due to COVID-19. There are some more details coming through on the eligibility but still no details of the claims process. We will be able to pay SSP and determine an employee has earned above the lower earnings limit, but we currently have no way of differentiating when the SSP was coronavirus related. Employers need to make sure they maintain good records as the claims process is unlikely to involve PAYE.
The are further details on the provisions the Chancellor has announced available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses
All services and deadlines are operating as normal. Some contingencies have been activated to cover staff absence due to self-isolation, but there is still adequate staff levels. We have asked all our clients to send payroll information to us as soon as possible and avoid late changes. We are concerned with what is approaching over the coming few weeks.
Payroll Planning advice
The global coronavirus pandemic has produced a novel and unprecedented challenge. We are in a strong position with two separate sites, and the ability to work on all payrolls from either without interruption. With the uncertainty that exists with external factors, and the possibility we may all have reduced available staff, we have the following additional notes:
- Make sure we know your contacts that may be sending us payroll information
- Make sure your contacts know what is required, such as your payroll reference and the information that is sent for payroll each period
- Send final instructions as early as you can, and avoid subsequent changes as much as possible
- Send all your instructions together, use your payroll reference, and avoid multiple emails and subject lines such as “this month’s payroll”.
- If your payroll is very stable and you want us to process several weeks or months together then please let us know.
- We will send emails, use Twitter and update this page if there are any changes to our service
- The following changes may be introduced:
- Earlier hard deadlines: We may enforce an earlier deadline to send us the payroll information prior to pay day. In this situation we may have a three-day turnaround, which may mean you miss pay day if you submit late.
- If you want to make changes these may have to wait until the following pay period, you should be prepared to make an approximate net payment yourself and report it to us for the following pay day
- We may move to a shift pattern, with reduced hours at each office. This may mean it would be less easy for you to speak to the team processing your payroll
- The following worst-case scenarios have been considered:
- If you have no one able to send us a payroll instruction you have the following options:
- Make net payments yourself based on the previous pay period. Report these to us with the gross pays when you are able. You could make these payments multiple times if necessary, and we can catch up at a later date. We would expect HMRC to be understanding in these circumstances and it is likely they will have offered guidance.
- If we make BACS payments on your behalf you could instruct us to repeat the prior month. This situation is less ideal as we would be creating a payroll and making RTI submissions which would need correcting at a later date.
- If the country is on compulsory home isolation, and we are unable to access either of our offices, we will not be able to process payrolls. In this situation you would need to make approximate payments to your employees and then report these to us together with payroll information. If we make payments via BACS it would be possible to send us a file for us to make BACS payments, and again we would be able to report to HMRC at a later date. You would be able to use the data in your payroll csv and a simple header file we would provide if this became necessary. You should also make sure you are familiar with your banks bulk payment facility as this may be simpler.
- We cannot process payrolls and produce BACS files if we cannot get into an office, we can remotely send BACS payments if necessary. Email support will also be maintained remotely, as well as providing service updates.
- If you have no one able to send us a payroll instruction you have the following options:
- If you have no one able to provide us any information or access your prior payrolls, and we are unable to access the office, you will need to do whatever you have prepared for in that situation. As a rough guide if you know the gross amount and deduct a third that is a reasonable approximation of the net to pay the employee. We have occasionally reported multiple tax periods for clients before, so this is perfectly possible. If a large proportion of our clients are affected however, it would take a while to bring everyone up to date. We would expect HMRC to be understanding in these circumstances, and they would probably have already offered guidance for this situation anyway.