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On the 15th April, the government announced it will extend the eligibility date of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to the 19th March 2020 to support individuals who switched jobs just before the crisis.

The decision to extend the cut-off date follows increasing pressure on the government from unions, businesses and individuals who complained that new starters had been forgotten in the government’s support package.

First announced by chancellor Rishi Sunak on the 20th March, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme allows employers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown to apply for a government grant covering 80 per cent of an employee’s wages, up to £2,500 per month.

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The scheme is aimed at preventing mass unemployment, enabling companies to keep their staff at the ready for when the lockdown measures are lifted.

When first revealed, eligibility for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme was reserved for employees that had been on a company’s payroll from the 28th February of this year.

According to the government, the date was set in order to protect against fraudulent claims, however, many companies that had taken on staff after the cut-off date but before the lockdown measures were unable to support new starters.

Following a review, HM Treasury confirmed the extension of the eligibility date to the 19th March 2020 – the day before the scheme was announced.

Now employers can claim furloughed employees that were employed and on their PAYE payroll on or before 19 March 2020.

This means that the employee must have been notified to HMRC through an RTI submission notifying payment in respect of that employee on or before 19th March 2020.

The change is expected to benefit over 200,000 employees, along with mitigating the risks of fraud, says the government.

As payday approaches for many employers across the country, the Treasury says the scheme is expected to be fully operational next week.

For full details on Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme eligibility, see the latest government guidance.

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