FAME update and COVID-19 news
A message sent to FAME members by the CEO:
Dear FAME members,
There are several bits of news and information I would like to share with you.
As many of you would have already suspected, the FAME forum and AGM is going to be postponed due to COVID-19. While it is over two months away, every indication is that even if the UK leaves ‘lockdown’ there will still be restrictions in place to stop large gatherings like the Forum. Once we have a better idea about future restrictions, we will reschedule.
The online claim service for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be launched on GOV.UK on Monday 20 April 2020. Any entity with a UK payroll can apply, including businesses, charities, recruitment agencies and public authorities. In preparation to make your claim you will need:
- a Government Gateway (GG) ID and password – if you don’t already have a GG account, you can apply for one online, or by going to GOV.UK and searching for ‘HMRC services: sign in or register’
- the following information for each furloughed employee you will be claiming for: Name, National Insurance number, Claim period and claim amount, PAYE/employee number (optional).
- if you have fewer than 100 furloughed staff – you will need to input information directly into the system for each employee. If you have 100 or more furloughed staff – you will need to upload a file with information for each employee; HMRC will accept the following file types: .xls .xlsx .csv .ods.
There has been significant updates to the guidance over the last few weeks and our understanding is more will be coming. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/
The biggest change is you can claim for employees that were employed as of 19 March 2020 and were on your PAYE payroll on or before that date – RTI submission notifying HMRC of payment of that employee on or before 19 March 2020. The old cut off was February 28th.
Especially important for cash flow issues- claims will be paid within 6 working days, they will not be instantaneous. We have been told between 4-6 days for them to run their automatic checks for possible fraud.
Some specific issues we would like to highlight:
Furlough is 100% of an employee’s time – one can not furlough them for 2 days a week if they are on a five day week contract for example.
They must be furloughed for three weeks at a time. Though it is permissible to furlough them for three weeks take them off and have them work for some time e.g. a week, a day, and then furlough them again.
The guidance states – ‘If you made employees redundant, or they stopped working for you on or after 28 February 2020, you can re-employ them, put them on furlough and claim for their wages through the scheme.’
We are attempting to clarify if this applies to employees who would have left for non-COVID related reasons. Messages from HMRC have been inconsistent on this point, and our last request for clarification was responded to by a simply quote of those guidelines. We are continuing to work on getting a yes or no answer from HMRC in writing, and will inform members as soon as we have that.
Quest has provided us with FAQs on the scheme, which is attached.
English Heritage has released the results of their survey impacting the heritage sector in England – https://historicengland.org.
Historic Environment Scotland has also launched one and is looking for feedback – https://consultations.
The different governments have published workplace guidance for COVID-19.
Scotland also has different restrictions for construction – https://www.gov.scot/
Chief Executive Officer