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What You Need to Know About a Christmas Furlough

Christmas Furlough

It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. But with COVID-19 raging on and many people still on furlough, it might not be as joyous as expected. While the extended Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has undoubtedly brought about much-needed relief for businesses, it’s important to know how the Christmas furlough period works to ensure you’re not claiming any money illegally. As an employer the responsibility is in your hands to not only know the ever changing rules but to inform your workers too. So read on for vital information.

Furlough to Cover Christmas – What Are the Rules?

With Christmas upon us you might be looking forward to a much-needed break. It hasn’t been the easiest of time for many, after all, and winding down over December could be a good chance to regather your thoughts. Furthermore, Christmas is often a slower time for businesses and therefore deciding to shut shop could be a smart business move.

If you are planning to wind down the business or close completely this festive season, you need to take a good hard look at the furlough rules before you pour that glass of mulled wine or tuck into your first seasonal mince pie. We know all this furlough business can dampen your festive spirits but get everything done early and you’ll still have time to celebrate – whatever that might look like this year.

Unfortunately, a business closure that’s not a direct result of coronavirus means you can’t use the CJRS to cover workers’ wages. We know it’s not ideal, but that’s what the updated HMRC guidance has to say on the matter. In fact, it’s specified that you can only place employees on furlough if COVID-19 is affecting your operations and not just because employees are going to be on paid leave or Christmas is a quieter period for you.

The only exception to this rule is if a worker’s furlough period begins before the Christmas holidays and continues after it. In this situation, grants can continue through the holiday period. You therefore need to know the furlough status of everyone that works for you.

Can I Pay Salaries Early?

Many employees appreciate being paid early at this time of year. There’s a lot to buy and get organised after all. When it comes to Christmas furlough and early payment of salaries, be sure to report the salary payments correctly by including the correct ‘payment date’ in your RTI submission. This should be the normal contractual payment date rather than the earlier date. So if you normally pay wages on the last day of the month but have moved payments forward a week, only report the initially intended payment date.

Whether you’re furloughed at Christmas and dealing with all the entails or trying to do the best for your employees while keeping everything above board, stay focussed and regularly revisit the rules. If you need any type of financial assistance, speak to us today for professional advice. We’re always happy to help.