Tier 4 Furlough Chaos – Payroll impacted? Reprocess or adjust pay and claims!

Many a payroll professionals worst nightmare has just happened!

Christmas payrolls are a strain at the best of times with the practice of early payments, mixed with extended flexible furlough and the operation of tight deadlines under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).

With the Prime-ministers announcement of further lockdown measures for swathes of London, the south-east and east of England, many businesses find themselves under changed circumstances. Furlough grant application to the end of December could take place from 17th December. Now many may be wrong as the number of worked hours shrink and the number of furlough hours increases from those originally planned, paid and claimed!

Now with Tier 4 measures, some businesses that were remaining open are now ordered to close from Sunday 20th December. Where employees were expected and already paid to work, now many face further furlough or curtailed hours.

The payroll profession thought they had December buttoned up, now the choice of reprocess or adjust is faced by many.

The HMRC help line is going to be buzzing with adjustment activity, right in the middle of the holiday season. And many will be troubled by the 14th January claim deadline. Will Tier 4 classification be considered as a ‘reasonable excuse’ for later claims?

The Tier 4 Stay at Home guidance provides details of businesses and venues which must close:-

Businesses and venues which must close

To reduce social contact, the regulations require some businesses to close and impose restrictions on how some businesses provide goods and services. The businesses required to close include:

  • non-essential retail, such as clothing and homeware stores, vehicle showrooms (other than for rental), betting shops, tailors, tobacco and vape shops, electronic goods and mobile phone shops, auction houses (except for auctions of livestock or agricultural equipment) and market stalls selling non-essential goods – these venues can continue to be able to operate click-and-collect (where goods are pre-ordered and collected off the premises) and delivery services
  • hospitality venues such as cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars and social clubs; with the exception of providing food and drink for takeaway (until 11pm), click-and-collect, drive-through or delivery
  • accommodation such as hotels, hostels, guest houses and campsites, except for specific circumstances, such as where these act as someone’s main residence, where the person cannot return home, for providing accommodation or support to the homeless, or where it is essential to stay there for work purposes
  • leisure and sports facilities such as leisure centres and indoor gyms, indoor swimming pools, indoor sports courts, indoor fitness and dance studios, indoor riding centres, and indoor climbing walls
  • entertainment venues such as theatres, concert halls, cinemas, museums and galleries, casinos, amusement arcades, bingo halls, bowling alleys, skating rinks, go-karting venues, indoor play and soft play centres and areas (including inflatable parks and trampolining centres), circuses, fairgrounds, funfairs, zoos and other animal attractions, water parks and theme parks
  • indoor attractions at venues such as botanical gardens, heritage homes and landmarks must also close, though outdoor grounds of these premises can stay open
  • personal care facilities such as hair, beauty, tanning and nail salons. Tattoo parlours, spas, massage parlours, body and skin piercing services must also close. These services should not be provided in other people’s homes
  • community centres and halls must close except for a limited number of exempt activities, as set out below. Libraries can also remain open to provide access to IT and digital services – for example for people who do not have it at home – and for click-and-collect services

Some of these businesses and places will also be permitted to be open for a small number of exempt activities, including:

  • education and training – for schools to use sports, leisure and community facilities where that is part of their normal provision
  • childcare purposes and supervised activities for children
  • hosting blood donation sessions and food banks
  • to provide medical treatment
  • for elite sports persons to train and compete (in indoor and outdoor sports facilities), and professional dancers and choreographers to work (in fitness and dance studios)
  • for training and rehearsal without an audience (in theatres and concert halls)
  • for the purposes of film and TV filming

PAYadvice.UK 21/11/2020

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