For the fifth time in four weeks, HMRC has made changes to its Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme guidelines. The new rules allow for contract employees, in other words freelancers, to be rehired and then immediately furloughed, providing that they meet certain criteria set out by HMRC. From the gov.uk website;
“An employee on a fixed term contract can be re-employed, furloughed and claimed for if either:
- Their contract expired after 28 February 2020 and an RTI payment submission for the employee was notified to HMRC on or before 28 February 2020
- Their contract expired after 19 March 2020 and an RTI payment submission for the employee was notified to HMRC on or before 19 March 2020”
“If the employee’s fixed term contract has not already expired, it can be extended, or renewed. You can claim for them if an RTI payment submission for the employee was notified to HMRC on or before 19 March 2020.”
HMRC had previously stated only a week and a half earlier on Friday 17 April, just before the Job Retention Scheme online portal opened its doors to claimants, that if an employee’s contract had ended “because it is not extended or renewed before its natural conclusion, you will no longer be able to claim”.
The changes follow pressure from trade unions representing contract employees, including the Federation of Entertainment Unions, as reported here, who represent over 120,000 people working in the creative industries, to find a solution to “stop people falling through the gaps of income support schemes.”
It comes as a refreshing change to see HMRC on this one occasion listening to the concerns of contract employees, and something we would very much like to see more of in future.