There are been some reports that there are companies that are abusing the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ("CJRS") in that they are requiring their employees to work despite placing them on furlough and claiming their wages from the G overnment.
By now, we are aware that the CJRS means that companies can have 80% of the employees' wages covered by HMRC provided that the employees are furloughed and, as the guidelines state, are not carrying out any 'remunerative activities' for the employer. This means that they cannot undertake any work for the employer that would make a profit, but they will be able to undertake some training for their job if any is available.
Unfortunately, whilst Ed Sheeran has confirmed that despite having to close the doors of Notting-Hill based bar and restaurant, Bertie Blossoms, since the UK Government announced the lockdown on 23 March 2020, he will not be claiming the employees' salaries through the CJRS and will instead be funding their salaries from his own pocket. In comparison, it transpires that some companies such as Sports Direct and House of Fraser have called some of their managers in to work some shifts and asked them to not clock in or record those shifts.
There is very little doubt that making furloughed employees continue working is incredibly dishonest and will be frowned upon but this does go further in that it actually amounts to defrauding HMRC and so the HMRC will seek to recover costs from the employers who have fraudulently claimed under the CJRS which could include the full amount that they have claimed, regardless of how much they have required the employees to work. Further, if some companies' behaviour actually amounts to knowingly seeking to defraud HMRC then HMRC could take criminal action against those employers – even though the extent of that is not entirely clear as of yet.
Either way, we strongly recommend against breaching the regulations of the CJRS.
If you are not sure about whether the scheme would be useful for your business or how you might be able to use it, please do contact our expert team and take advantage of our FREE 30 minutes' consultation that we are offering to both new and existing employees, without any obligation.
Please do send your details to deana@Gepp.co.uk and we will be in touch at the earliest opportunity to assist you.