Covid-19 has raised many questions and uncertainties for the dental profession. Over the next few weeks, Shoaib Khan of Alexander & Co Chartered Accountants, will be outlining the financial implications of Covid-19 for dental professionals, with advice on how to navigate these challenges.
In this next article of the series, Shoaib will discuss the Coronavirus (Covid-19) Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).
See the first article in our Covid-19 series on the self‐employed income support scheme (SEISS).
Shoaib Khan is an experienced member of the tax advisory team with Alexander & Co based in Manchester. Shoaib specialises in advising individuals and owner-managed businesses on their personal and business tax affairs. If you need assistance with your tax affairs, Shoaib can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has brought an unprecedented array of challenges for businesses and Dental practices are no exception to this. Like most businesses, Dental practice owners will be overwhelmed with information related to government support in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which in some cases is changing on a daily basis.
This article focuses on claims for wages under the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). The Chancellor first announced CJRS on 20 March 2020, which was originally available until the end of June 2020, however in a further announcement on 12 May 2020, the Chancellor confirmed that CRJS will be extended until October 2020.
CJRS is relevant to both private and mixed practices, as it is possible for mixed practices to make a claim under CRJS in respect of the proportion of their private income. However, a claim under CJRS should be supported with evidence of how the practice has calculated the relevant proportion of their private income.
It is important to note that those practices continuing to receive their usual level of NHS funding will not be able to make claims under CRJS for the NHS funded proportion of their income, essentially making two claims for the same funding. In the case of practices wholly NHS funded and are continuing to receive NHS funding, such practices will not be able to make a claim under CJRS.
Broadly, the scheme is available to all UK employers with a PAYE scheme that started on or before 19 March 2020. It covers part of the salary of employees who would otherwise be laid off because of the crisis – known as ‘furloughing’. Employees on any type of employment contract, including full-time, part-time, agency, flexible or zero-hour contracts can be included in a claim.
To access the support, employers have to ‘furlough’ employees, which means asking them to stop working but retaining them on payroll. This is a formal process with employment law implications and needs to be followed through carefully.
Only furloughed employees on the payroll on or before 19 March who have received some pay in 2019/20 are covered. HMRC will pay a grant worth 80% of an employee’s usual wages, up to £2,500 a month, and associated employer NICs and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on the subsidised wage. However, practice owners at their own discretion, may top up furloughed employees’ income, which would be taxable in the normal way.
Claims can be made by employers who have furloughed staff as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, as long as they:
Claims can only be made in respect of furloughed employees. The scheme does not apply to staff who have had their hours and pay reduced. An important distinction is that furloughed employees cannot do any work for the employer while furloughed, and there are also rules around volunteer work and training. However, furloughed employees may be able to work for a different unconnected employer if their contract permits this or work in a self-employed capacity. Therefore, practice owners may wish to take separate legal advice in respect to changes in employment contracts before furloughing staff.
As mentioned above, the option to furlough an employee is available regardless of what type of contract an employee is on. Only furloughed employees who were on the payroll on or before 19 March 2020 and in respect to whom a PAYE submission had been made by this date are within the scope of the scheme. Employees who were on the payroll as of 28 February 2020 and who were made redundant after that date and before 19 March 2020, can be included in the scheme if the employer re-employs and then furloughs them. The employee does not need to be re-employed by 19 March to be eligible for furlough.
Employers can claim 80% of a furloughed employee’s wages to a maximum of £2,500 a month. The calculation of the amount which can be claimed will depend on how the employee is paid and whether their pay varies. The claim will be based on the employee’s ‘wages’, which are the regular payments which the employer makes to the employee. It will include non-discretionary overtime, fees and commission, but no discretionary payments. Payments in kind are also excluded.
The employer can also claim the associated employer’s National Insurance and minimum pension contributions on the amount of the grant.
HMRC have produced a calculator which can be used to work out the amount which can be claimed in respect of a furloughed employee. Claims should be made online via the online portal. Employers should receive the money within six working days.
The majority of employers with full-time or part-time employees on a set salary will need to work out the following for the claim period:
Employers need to be registered for PAYE before CJRS claims can be made. Once the employer has gathered together the relevant information, the claim can be made at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wages-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme.
HMRC advise that payment will be received six days after making an application. Employers who wish to receive a payment from the scheme by the end of the month will therefore need to submit their claim at least six working days in advance for the payment to cleared into their bank account.
As stated above, it is likely that the NHS will be asking mixed practices to provide evidence of how the split between NHS and private income is calculated. Furthermore, HMRC are contacting employers on a random basis to check whether a claim is valid.
An employee who has been working for an employer for many years is paid a fixed gross monthly salary of £2,400 per month, with the last payment received on the last day of February 2020. The employee has agreed to be placed on furlough from 21 March 2020, at 80% of their salary.
The employer can claim a CJRS payment for March as follows:
The employee’s gross pay at the end of the month is made up of £1,548.40 of salary funded by the employers for 1 to 20 March (20 days), plus £681.30 of pay funded by CJRS for the remaining 11 days of March. The employer NICs due on the total gross pay of £2,229.70 is £208.48
The employer claims £74.03 for employer NIC’s due on the employee’s March pay.
Changes to the scheme from August 2020
From August 2020, new flexibility will be introduced, which the Government states is aimed to get employees back to work. From this date, furloughed workers will be able to return to work on a part-time basis with employers being asked to pay a percentage towards the salaries of their furloughed staff.
The employer payments will substitute the contribution the Government is currently making, ensuring that staff continue to receive at least 80% of their salary, up to £2,500 a month. The percentage that employers are expected to pay is yet to be confirmed.
The Government will publish more information and the specific details around its implementation, by the end of May 2020. Our website will have updates when further information becomes available.
Based on government guidance, it is possible for directors of private companies to furlough themselves and make a claim under CJRS for in respect of their salary. Therefore, it is possible for Associate Dentists operating via a limited company to take advantage of CJRS, if they meet the relevant criteria. They would also be unable to work via their company during the furlough period
However, this could present operational challenges. For example, where an Associate Dentist who is currently on standby to return to work, either in practice or for COVID-19 frontline work, decides to make a claim under CJRS and furlough themselves. Under the CJRS rules, furloughed staff will not be allowed to work for an initial 3 weeks period after being furloughed. If such an individual is requested to return to work during their furlough period, they would either be forced to decline to work or break the CJRS rules.
Therefore, detailed considerations will be required before making a claim under CJRS for Associate Dentists operating via a limited company. This article is simply highlighting the availability of CJRS to private limited companies, however the complications it presents for Associate Dentist operating via a company are outside the scope of this article.
General requirements for making claims are summarised as follows:
Staffing decisions are tough in the best of times, if practice owners or associate dentist would like assistance in calculating the possible support that may be available to them under CJRS, due to Coronavirus (COVID-19) or for assistance with general tax affairs, please get in touch with Shoaib on email@example.com.
Whilst this article focuses on the CJRS, there is also other support such as grants and loans available to businesses and dental practices owners may be able to benefit from these as well. Further information is available on our website: https://alexander.co.uk/coronavirus-business-guidance