Which employees can be furloughed under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme?

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (which was due to close at the end of October 2020 and then at the end of April 2021) has been further extended to 30 September 2021.

To be eligible to be furloughed, from 1 November 2020 until 30 April 2021, the employee must have been on the employer's payroll on 30 October 2020. The employer must have made a real time information (RTI) submission to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in respect of the employee between 20 March 2020 and 30 October 2020. If an employee had been on the payroll on 23 September 2020 (and the employer had made an RTI submission in respect of them), but the employer had subsequently made them redundant, or their employment had ended in some other way, the employer can rehire the employee and place them on furlough.

To be eligible to be furloughed for periods between 1 May 2021 and 30 September 2021, the employee must have been on the employer's payroll on 2 March 2021. The employer must have made an RTI submission to HMRC in respect of the employee between 20 March 2020 and 2 March 2021. The employer does not have to have previously claimed for an employee under the scheme to be able to furlough them from 1 May 2021.

There is no restriction as to employment status - the scheme covers workers on "flexible or zero hours contracts" and those on agency contracts. There is no qualifying service requirement for an employee to be furloughed.

The HMRC guidance on the scheme states that employees are eligible for furlough if they are unable to work because they have caring responsibilities as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, or because they are clinically extremely vulnerable. It also states that employers can furlough employees who are on sick leave or who are self-isolating, if they have business reasons for doing so and provided that the employee is not in receipt of statutory sick pay.