In Glo-Ball Group Limited v HMRC [2023] TC08823, the First Tier Tribunal (FTT) found that a director, who had made posts on their company’s Facebook account while furloughed, was working. This made the director ineligible for Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) support.

  • Glo-Ball Group Limited (Glo-Ball) ran parties, discos, community events and after-school clubs for children, along with parent and baby groups.
  • Between 23 April 2020 and 18 December 2020, Glo-Ball claimed £9,500 in support payments under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), in respect of its directors and employees.
  • While on furlough, one of the directors, in respect of whom CJRS grants were claimed, continued to make posts on Glo-Ball’s Facebook account. These included: 
    • Asking followers to like other Facebook pages run by Glo-Ball.
    • Informing Glo-Ball’s Facebook audience that a director had completed training and received a diploma.
    • Advertising a virtual event.
    • Details of an award nomination and asking customers to vote for Glo-Ball.
    • Information of activities Glo-Ball had been working on during lockdown.
  • Before the pandemic, it was estimated that around 15 hours a week was spent on social media posts.
    • During the lockdown, this reduced dramatically. It was estimated that in April 2020, such time spent was around five minutes.
  • HMRC raised assessments totalling £3,449 on the basis that the director making Facebook posts was not eligible for support under the CJRS.
  • Following a Statutory review, and an unsuccessful Alternative Dispute Resolution, Glo-Ball Appealed to the First Tier Tribunal (FTT).

CJRS claims could only be made in respect of ‘furloughed employees’. A furloughed employee was one who, among other conditions, had ceased all work for the employer for 21 calendar days or more.

While furloughed, company directors were able to carry out their Statutory duties under the Companies Act, without that amounting to work for these purposes.

The FTT found that:

  • Posting on social media fell outside the permitted safe harbour of carrying out statutory duties.
  • The phrase ‘all work’ has both quantitative and qualitative elements.
    • Even a single piece of work undertaken by an employee during the relevant period would mean that they had not ceased ‘all’ work.
  • In the context of the Coronavirus Direction, any activity undertaken by an employee with the view to either directly or indirectly generate income for an employer, or to enhance the employer’s goodwill or reputation, comprises work.
    • It did not matter whether the activity actually generates income, what is important is that the activity was intended to generate income. This can be direct or indirect.
  • The vast majority of posts made on Facebook by the director comprised work.
  • In each of the periods in which CJRS payments were claimed, the director had not ceased all work for Glo-Ball for a period of at least 21 calendar days due to the continued Facebook posts.
    • This meant that the director was not eligible to be included in a CJRS claim in the period 1 March 2020 to 30 June 2020.
    • Because the director was not eligible in the period to 30 June 2020, she was also not an eligible employee for the purposes of claims made under the subsequent flexible furlough regime, between 1 July 2020 and 31 October 2020.

Glo-Ball’s appeal was dismissed.

Useful guides on this topic

COVID-19: Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) to 31 October 2020
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS): a cash grant payable to employers up to 31 March 2021.

COVID-19: Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) to 30 September 2021
What is CJRS? When does the CJRS apply? How to claim CJRS. How to calculate CJRS claim amounts.

Directors' responsibilities and duties
What duties and responsibilities does a director have? What is the definition of 'director'?  

How to appeal an HMRC decision
Disagree with an HMRC decision? How to appeal, what type of decision can you appeal and what are your different options when you disagree with HMRC? What are the key steps in making an appeal?

Statutory Review (by HMRC)
What is a Statutory Review? Is it automatic? What happens in a Statutory Review? Can you challenge a Statutory Review's findings? Can you influence a Statutory Review?  

External link

Glo-Ball Group Limited v HMRC [2023] TC08823

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