Furlough: What to include when calculating wages

in Employment Law, HR

The amount you should use when calculating 80% of your employees’ wages is regular payments you are obliged to make, including:

  • regular wages you pay to employees
  • non-discretionary overtime
  • non-discretionary fees
  • non-discretionary commission payments
  • piece rate payments

You cannot include the following when calculating wages:

  • payments made at the discretion of the employer or a client – where the employer or client was under no contractual obligation to pay, including:
    • tips
    • discretionary bonuses
    • discretionary commission payments
  • non-cash payments
  • non-monetary benefits like benefits in kind (such as a company car) and salary sacrifice schemes (including pension contributions) that reduce an employees’ taxable pay

The entirety of the grant received to cover an employee’s subsidised furlough pay must be paid to them in the form of money. No part of the grant should be netted off to pay for the provision of benefits or a salary sacrifice scheme.

Where the employer provides benefits to furloughed employees, including through a salary sacrifice scheme, these benefits should be in addition to the wages that must be paid under the terms of the Job Retention Scheme.

Normally, an employee cannot switch freely out of a salary sacrifice scheme unless there is a life event. HMRC agrees that COVID-19 counts as a life event that could warrant changes to salary sacrifice arrangements, if the relevant employment contract is updated accordingly.

Apprenticeship Levy and Student Loans

Both the Apprenticeship Levy and Student Loans should continue to be paid as usual. Grants from the Job Retention Scheme do not cover these.

If you’re claiming for a member of a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)

If a member of an LLP is treated as an employee (because of salaried members rules), you must only include payments that are either:

  • fixed
  • variable, but are varied without reference to the overall amount of the profits or losses of the LLP
  • not affected by the overall amount of the LLP’s profits or losses