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HMRC provided further information on the mechanics of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (“CJRS”) at a session of the Treasury Select Committee on 8th April 2020. This information will be of interest to employers who intend to use the CJRS to furlough employees due to the current coronavirus pandemic.
- HMRC confirmed that the portal is likely to open to all employers on 20 April. The system is currently being live-tested with a small number of employers.
- The portal will be accessible 24/7, and HMRC is confident that its IT systems will be able to manage the high volume of traffic that is expected. The system is designed to handle applications from two million PAYE schemes, and the system is being tested to handle up to 450,000 claims per hour. At peak times, employers will be placed in a queuing system to access the portal.
- The first reimbursement payments are expected to be made to employers by the end of April. Payments to employers should follow 4-6 days after a claim has been submitted to the portal.
- The portal will only allow one claim per pay period, but will facilitate both weekly and monthly pay periods. Employers will be able to submit a claim 14 days in advance of paying their payroll.
- HMRC will be introducing a ‘whistle-blowing hotline’ to enable employees to report employers who are misusing the CJRS. HMRC also plans to implement a future audit process.
- The aim is that most employers will be able to use the portal and submit applications without assistance from HMRC. Should employers require assistance, there should be around 5,500 people working on the helpline and webchat service when the portal goes live.
HMRC has indicated that further guidance will be published imminently, which will help employers understand the information and evidence the portal will require. This will allow employers to collate the necessary information in advance of the portal opening.
HMRC does not have any information at this stage on whether the CJRS will be extended beyond the end of May, which is the end of the initial 3-month period announced by the Chancellor.