On 20 April 2020, the online Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme went live. The government pay scheme has been set up to keep staff on the payroll despite not working due to the virus.

With the scheme now live, employers can apply for direct cash grants through their Government Gateway account and should expect to receive money within six working days of making an application. The Treasury has stated that the system has the ability to process up to 450,000 applications per hour and 5,000 staff will be manning phone lines and webchat services for anyone with questions.

The CJRS, announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak, is part of a package designed to protect jobs and businesses across the UK, allowing employers to claim a cash grant of up to 80% of a furloughed employees wages, capped at £2,500 a month.

Before accessing the new service, employers should make sure they are only claiming for employees that are eligible for furlough and using the CJRS calculator, calculate how much they are entitled to claim.

HMRC has issued a step by step guide and updated guidance on how to calculate your claim.

As previously announced, those wishing to make a claim will need:

  • To be registered for PAYE online
  • A UK bank account number and sort code
  • An employer PAYE scheme reference number
  • The number of employees placed on furlough
  • Each employee’s National Insurance (NI) number
  • Each employee’s payroll or employee number
  • The start and end date of the claim
  • The full amount of the claim, inclusive of employer NI contributions and employer minimum pension contributions
  • Contact phone number

Employers will also be required to provide one of the following:

  • Corporation Tax unique taxpayer reference
  • Self-Assessment unique taxpayer reference
  • Company registration number

Employers who are claiming for more than 100 employees on furlough, will need to upload a file for each employee containing:

  • Employee’s full name
  • National Insurance (NI) number
  • Furlough start date
  • Furlough end date (if known)
  • Full amount claimed
  • Employee’s payroll number (optional)

Employers must upload the file in one of the below formats:

  • .xls
  • .xlsx
  • .csv
  • .ods

In order to make a claim, employers will need the Government Gateway user ID and password they received when registering for PAYE online. It has been made clear by HMRC that during busy times, the service will be slower than normal.

Once the claim is complete, a claim reference number will be generated. HMRC will check that the claim is correct and pay the amount by BACS into the nominated bank account within six working days.

Employers must:

  • Keep a copy of the claim reference number
  • Keep a copy of calculations in case HMRC requires more information about the claim
  • Inform employees that a claim has been made and that they do not need to take any action
  • Pay employees their wages, if this has not been done already

Please note, employers should not contact HMRC unless it has been over 10 working days since the claim was made and the funds have not been received. HMRC is experiencing a very high number of calls and contacting them unnecessarily puts essential public services at risk during these challenging times.

Find more information and guidance on coronavirus support measures for businesses, employers and employees on the activpayroll latest news page.

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