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Announcing the news, Rishi Sunak said the scheme will continue paying 80 percent of a person’s wage up to £2,500 a month. The Chancellor told the House of Commons the policy will be reviewed by the Government in January next year. Mr Sunak said the intention of extending the furlough scheme was to “give businesses security through the winter”. He added: “The security we are providing will protect millions of jobs.”
The extension will undoubtedly come as good news to SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises), who will have been concerned about getting through the lockdown and subsequent winter months.
Ed Molyneux, CEO and founder of Free Agent, says despite coming as a relief for some SMEs, many people are being left out.
Mr Molyneux told Express.co.uk: “While the extension of the furlough scheme to March next year will be warmly welcomed by SMEs across the country, I am concerned that it will actually have little benefit for many freelancers and small businesses who will not be eligible to apply.
“Freelancers, small businesses and the self-employed are vitally important for the UK economy, but they appear to see being overlooked in favour of larger businesses.”
Mr Molyneux said many have been “excluded” from the Government’s coronavirus support up until now, so they should “have been at the front of the queue for any additional measures aimed at helping businesses deal with the ongoing pandemic”.
He explained how late payments are having a negative impact on the UK’s small businesses sector.
The CEO concluded: “With Covid threatening the next six months (at least) of economic recovery, many freelancers and SMEs who are already feeling the train will now be very worried about the future.
“It is therefore important that every small business that can come through the crisis as a sustainable enterprise is provided with the support to stay afloat. Ultimately, they will benefit the economy and the UK will reap the benefits in post-Covid times and beyond.”
Can I furlough myself?
In short, if you are an employee, you are not able to furlough yourself.
Only employers, company directors or anyone in a similar position can choose to furlough the whole company, after which you will be told what your status is.
It makes no difference whether or not you have a contract for furlough purposes.
The scheme covers all workers on the PAYE system, including any casual or zero-hours employees who are paid in that way.
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Businesses can claim furlough for workers who were employed and on the PAYE roll on October 30, 2020.
The employers must have made a PAYE Real Time Information (RTI) submission to HMRC between March 20, 2020 and October 30, 2020, notifying a payment of earnings for the worker.
Businesses can have flexibility to use the scheme for workers on any shift pattern, furloughing employees on either a full-time or part-time basis, and will be able to vary the hours worked in agreements with the furloughed employee.
Employers can also be furloughed where they are unable to work because they are shielding in line with public health guidance, or have caring responsibilities resulting from coronavirus, including the need to look after children.
If an employer wants to claim furlough for workers this time, they don’t need to have used the last round of the Job Retention Scheme.
Businesses across the UK are allowed to claim the scheme, whether their business is open or closed doesn’t matter.
The Government expects that publicly funded organisations will opt out of the scheme.
However, partially publicly funded organisations may qualify for the scheme where their private revenues have suffered some disruption.
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