Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS): a cash grant payable to employers up to 31 March 2021.

At a glance


This guide covers the scheme which ended on 31 October 2020. For details of the scheme which applies from 1 November 2020 see: COVID-19: Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) from 1 November 2020


At a glance

  • Employers may claim and pay a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (JRS) grant to their employees instead of making them redundant, due to the adverse effects of the coronavirus.

First version of the scheme: March 2020 to August 2020

  • The CJRS payable grant consists of:
    • up to 80% of the salaries of employees, subject to a cap of £2,500 per month for the period March to August 2020.
    • up to 70% of salaries subject to a cap of £2,187.50 for September 2020.
    • up to 60% of salaries subject to a cap of £1,875 for October 2020.
  • The scheme initially ran for four months starting from 1 March 2020. On 12 May it was extended to the end of October. On 29 May, new changes were announced which allow for part-time working for furloughed workers and a tapered form of employer contribution to the scheme.
  • Only employees on the PAYE payroll as at 19 March 2020 and for whom a payment was notified to HMRC on a Real-Time Information (RTI) submission on or before 19 March, (prior to 15/04/2020 this date was 28 February 2020), can be furloughed.
  • The scheme closed to new entrants on 30 June 2020 making 10 June the last date to furlough someone for the first time.
  • Employers must designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers' and notify the employees of this change. 
  • Employees must be paid a minimum of 80% of their salaries.
  • Between March and June 2020, workers cannot undertake work while furloughed, they may undertake training.
  • From 1 July 2020, employees may undertake part-time work for their employers and the employer may claim a grant for time not worked.
  • Between March and June 2020, each furlough period must last for at least three consecutive weeks.
  • The minimum claim period is reduced to 1 week from July 2020. From this date, claims must be made on a calendar month and not a payroll month. Some detailed adjustments will be required, for those whose payroll run dates differ from the payment claims periods.
  • Claims for periods ending on or before 30 June 2020 must be made by 31 July 2020.

 CJRS: How to claim

  • Employers submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings through an online portal.
  • The portal went live on 20 April.
  • Claims can be made every three weeks with payments expected within six working days of making a claim. The minimum claim period reduces to 1 week from 1 July.
  • Claims for August can be made in advance from 20 July.
  • Final claims under the scheme including adjustments to claims, must be made by 30 November 2020. No claims can be submitted or amended after this date. 
  • HMRC has created a step by step guide to making claims.

Update 29 May 2020

The scheme now extends until the end of October 2020 and under taper provisions, furloughed employees will be able to work part-time and employers will begin to contribute to Employers National Insurance (ERs NICs).


March to 30 June 2020

1 July

1 August



Furlough wages: government contribution

Government pays 80% of furloughed workers’ wages up to a cap of £2,500


Government pays 80% of workers’ furlough wages up to a cap of £2,500


Government pays 80% of workers’ furlough wages up to a cap of £2,500

Government pays 70% of workers’ furlough wages up to a cap of £2,187.50.

Government pays 60% of workers’ furlough wages up to a cap of £1,875. Employers will pay ERs NICs and pension contributions and 20% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500.

Can furloughed worker work for the employer No Yes Yes    

Furlough wages: employer contribution


Employer pays 10% of wages (to make up to 80%)

Employer pays 20% of wages (to make up to 80%)

ERs NICS & pensions

Government pays


Employer pays


Other key changes

 The scheme will close to new entrants on 30 June 2020

Part-time work possible whilst furloughed: the employer pays  wages for actual hours worked. 

     Final claims and amendments to claims must be made by 30 November 2020.

Minimum claim period

3 weeks

1 week


Key points from 1 July

  • Employers pay employees for the hours they work: government funding is only given for non-working (furloughed) employees.
  • As with the previous version of the CJRS employers are still able to choose to top up employee wages above the scheme grant at their own expense if they wish.
  • Previously furloughed employees may commence part-time work their employers from 1 July. 
  • Employers can claim the grant for the hours their employees are not working calculated by reference to their 'usual' hours worked in a claim period.
  • From 1 July, claim periods will no longer be able to overlap months, employers who previously submitted claims with periods that overlapped calendar months will no longer be able to do this going forward.
  • The minimum claim period with reduce to 1 week from 1 July. This gives employers total flexibility over work rotas: all details must be agreed in writing with the employee.
  • Employers will be required to submit data on the usual hours an employee would be expected to work in a claim period and actual hours worked.

Scheme closure to new entrants

  • The scheme will close to new entrants from 30 June. From this point onwards, employers will only be able to furlough employees that they have furloughed for a full three-week period prior to 30 June. The exception to this is employees who have been on statutory parental leave such as maternity or paternity leave and employees who are military reservists.
  • This means that the final date by which an employer could furlough an employee for the first time was be the 10 June, in order for the three-week furlough period to be completed by 30 June.
  • Employers had until 31st July to make any claims in respect of the period to 30 June.
  • From 1 July the scheme is only be available to employers that have previously used the scheme in respect of employees they have previously furloughed.
  • From 1 July, claim periods will no longer be able to overlap months, employers who previously submitted claims with periods that overlapped calendar months will no longer be able to do this going forward. This is necessary to reflect the forthcoming changes to the scheme.
  • The number of employees an employer can claim for in any claim period cannot exceed the maximum number they have claimed for under any previous claim under the current CJRS.
  • Employers can continue to make claims in anticipation of an imminent payroll run, at the point payroll is run or after payroll has been run.
  • Employers will be able to make their first claim under the new part-time work scheme from 1 July.

What are 'usual' hours?

  • See separate tab Usual hours

UPDATE 13 January 2021

HMRC have issued guidance on the interaction of CJRS claims and the Employment Allowance (EA) in respect of claim periods between 1 March 2020 and 31 July 2020. 

  • Between 1 March 2020 and 31 July 2020 it was possible to claim a CJRS grant towards employer National Insurance (NI) contributions.
  • Some employers are eligible to use the EA to reduce the employer NI contributions they make. 
    • The EA cannot be manually spread over the tax year if it would otherwise be utilised sooner. 
  • When working out how much CJRS grant could be claimed in respect of employer NI in periods between 1 March 2020 and 31 July 2020, employers should have deducted the value of any EA claimed in those periods.
    • If employer's NI between 1 March 2020 and 31 July 2020 was fully relieved via EA, no CJRS claim in respect of employer's NI should have been made. 
  • If any EA claimed between 1 March 2020 and 31 July 2020 did not fully cover employer NI contributions, the CJRS grant available in respect of employer NI was the lower of:
    • The grant towards employer NI contributions costs already calculated.
    • The employer NI contributions cost that you paid, or expect to pay, across your entire payroll.
  • EA can be claimed at any point in the tax year, or for four years following.
    • Where CJRS grants have covered any employer NI contributions between 1 March 2020 and 31 July 2020 employers must ensure that any subsequent EA claim does not result in relief being received twice. 
  • HMRC warn that: "attempting to get relief for the same costs twice is fraudulent and may result in claims being investigated".

UPDATE 27 August 2020 HMRC compliance activity on CJRS

HMRC have started the next phase of compliance activity on the CJRS. It has written to around 3,000 employers it believes may have been overpaid in cases where:

  • The business may have claimed more Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) grant than they are entitled to.
  • The business may not meet the conditions to receive the grant (e.g. including ineligible employees on a CJRS claim).

A penalty and tax liability could arise if any overpayment is not repaid in time and there is a failure to notify HMRC about it.

UPDATE 1 July 2020 HMRC powers to deal with overpayments and misuse of CJRS payments

Finance Actl 2020 schedule 16 gives HMRC the power to:

  • Use information and inspection powers to check a claim has not been overpaid and that a CJRS payment has been used to pay furloughed employee costs.
  • Raise Income Tax assessments to recover amounts from the recipient of a payment (the employer):
    • which they are not entitled to
    • where the payment has not been used to pay furloughed employee costs, such as wages, PAYE and National Insurance Contributions (NICs) or pension contributions.
  • Charge a penalty where a person:
    • deliberately makes an incorrect claim under the CJRS and they fail to notify HMRC about the situation within 90 days. Originally this notification deadline was proposed to be set at 30 days.
    • deliberately does not use the payment for furloughed employee costs.
  • Penalties will fall under the failure to notify rules and, as these will be treated as deliberate and concealed actions, the penalties could be anything between 30% and 100% of the overclaimed amounts.
  • Make a company officer jointly and severally liable for Income Tax assessments raised on CJRS payments where:
    • that officer deliberately made a CJRS claim where the company was not eligible and
    • the company is insolvent, or
    • HMRC can show there is a serious risk that the company will not be able to pay the Income Tax assessment.

The  legislation also sets out that the circumstances in which a person is not entitled to a coronavirus support payment include, where they cease to be entitled to it after they have received it because of a change of circumstances and or because it was not used for the purposes for which it was paid.

  • In this situation the payment becomes taxable at the time that the recipient ceased to be entitled to it, and not when it was received. For companies this may mean that it falls into a later accounting period.

UPDATE 30 June 2020: How to deal with over/under claims

Overclaims can now be corrected by adjusting a later claim. If you think you have claimed too much you must notify HMRC by the later of:

  • 90 days after the date you received the grant you were not entitled to
  • 90 days after the date you received the grant that you were not longer entitled to keep because your circumstances changed
  • 20 October 2020 for claims to 30 June, otherwise 30 November 2020.

If you do not notify HMRC within these time limits you may be liable to a penalty of up to 100% of the amount of the CJRS grant that you were not entitled to receive or keep, and had not repaid by the notification deadline.

If you have overclaimed and do not plan to make any later claims you must make a payment to HMRC.

  • You will need your 14 or 15 digit payment reference number which ends with an X and will need to contact HMRC on 0800 024 1222 to obtain this.
  • Contact HMRC on to tell them you have overclaimed 0300 322 9430.

See Pay Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme grants back.

For underclaims you must contact HMRC on 0800 024 1222: they will request additional information as you are increasing your claim. Additional claims for periods to 30 June 2020 must be made by 31 July 2020.

If you have made an error on a claim you can delete it within 72 hours and start again. ADDED 9/7

UPDATE 18 June 2020: PAYE and NIC payments

We understand that it is a condition of the scheme that, having paid furloughed staff, employers must pay all PAYE and NIC over to HMRC or their claims may be refused. This condition is not immediately clear when making a claim under the scheme so, if HMRC are refusing furlough claims due to unpaid PAYE and NIC, businesses should contact HMRC to discuss their position and see if HMRC will agree to retaining the overdue PAYE/NIC from future CJRS payments to help them get up to date, and allow them to continue receiving support under CJRS. This does not apply to general employer tax arrears, only to overdue PAYE and NIC in respect of payments to furloughed employees.

UPDATE 27 May 2020: Record Keeping and TUPE, see headings below.

UPDATE 12 May 2020: Extension of scheme and proposed relaxation of rules

  • The scheme is to be extended by a further four months to the end of October 2020.
  • A relaxation in the rules is planned to allow furloughed workers to work part-time. From this date also the employer will need to make a contribution towards furloughed workers' wage costs. More details are expected on this by the end of May. The scheme will continue in its current form until the end of July.

UPDATE 5 May 2020: Incorrect refusal of Job Retention Scheme financial support

  • HMRC says that some employers have incorrectly had their Job Retention Scheme (JRS) claim for financial support refused because they are in arrears with some of their tax liabilities. It confirms that this was incorrect, claims should not have been rejected.
  • Employers who have had their claim rejected to re-apply and apologises for the distress this may have caused.
  • See ICAEW HMRC refusal of JRS applications

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