The Government have today announced an important update to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) which will bring more employees within the scope of the scheme, allowing them to be furloughed rather than made redundant.

A New Qualifying Date for Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The key change is that the date at which an employee must have been registered on a company’s payroll has been changed from 28 February 2020 to 19 March 2020.

The intention of the change is to bring a large number of people who had recently changed jobs into the scope of the furlough rules as businesses were previously unable to place them on furlough leave.


While this sounds like a major change, there is one key condition that will limit the impact for newly hired employees. This is that the employer must have notified HMRC of a payment in respect of the employee, as an RTI submission, on or before 19 March 2020.

Employers who pay weekly submit weekly RTI returns, so new employees hired in the first couple of weeks of March will almost certainly have been notified as new joiners to HMRC by 19 March.

Employers who pay monthly however will only submit RTI returns once a month, normally at the end of the month. The previous RTI submission will have been at the end of February and any new employees from 1 March onwards will not have been included in an RTI submission until the end of March and therefore will not qualify for furlough.

Clarifications for Specific Situations

Employees who were placed on unpaid leave after 28 February 2020 will still be eligible to be furloughed. The furlough period will only commence from the date on which it is agreed they will return from unpaid leave, not the date they were placed on unpaid leave.

If an employee was let go because they did not qualify for furlough under the previously confirmed dates, employers will not be able to re-hire them and place them on furlough leave to claim the grant from the Government, unless they were on the payroll on or before 28 February 2020.

Employers are still able to re-hire employees who were made redundant on or after 28 February 2020, and place them on furlough leave, as long as they were on the payroll on or before 28 February 2020.

Getting Further Help

The new rules help a little, but add some extra layers of complexity to the CJRS. If you are an employer who is unsure whether your employees qualify for furlough leave, or are thinking about re-hiring individuals, speak to our expert team of employment solicitors today to ensure that you and your employees qualify for the grants that you are hoping for.

The Backhouse Solicitors Team

Tel: 01245 893400
Visit: 17 Duke Street, Chelmsford, Essex CM1 1JU

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