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The introduction of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) commonly known as “Furlough” has changed the lexicon of businesses. Its implications will reach far further than the simple placing of employees on Furlough and extensive and complex legal and economic issues for business will arise from it.

We have put together a specific cross-disciplinary team to address particular issues arising from Furlough.

HMRC – reclaiming furlough payments

Since CJRS was first announced on 20 March 2020, there have been numerous updates and variations to the scheme. Given the complexity and changing guidance in this area, there will be many circumstances where claims have been made for the furlough grants incorrectly across a range of culpability, from innocent mistakes to deliberate fraud and the whole range in between.

HMRC has already started investigations into reclaiming furlough payments which were claimed incorrectly and are requesting access to communications including email, phone records and web browsing histories to assist its investigations into erroneous furlough claims. It can request those records from telecoms networks as well as the employer and can examine if calls were being made to employees by their employer whilst they were on furlough to establish if the employee was in fact working.

Whilst innocent errors are unlikely to lead to a criminal prosecution, there may still be demands for repayment, interest and costs at a time when a business can ill afford it. For fraudulent claims under the furlough scheme, the consequences are of course much more serious not only for the business but for the individual directors and officers party to fraudulent claims.

  • Court challenge
  • HR Issues
  • Insolvency

We will continue to monitor the situation and provide further updates as they become available. The guidance is changing almost daily and as such it is important to monitor updates as further clarification is published.  If you do have any issues, please contact Linky Trott or any member of the Furlough Advice & Support Team.

Please visit our Covid-19 Resource Centre for the most up to date information.

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Contact our Employment Team
telephone: 020 7691 4000
or email: enquiries@edwincoe.com

The team is well staffed with qualified, experienced and knowledgeable individuals who work well together. They are prof...

Chambers UK 2018

The team is well staffed with qualified, experienced and knowledgeable individuals who work well together. They are professional, polite and truly care about their clients.

Chambers UK 2018

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Employment

Furlough Advice & Support Team

The introduction of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme commonly known as “Furlough” has changed the lexicon of businesses. Its implications will reach far further than the simple placing of employees on Furlough and extensive and complex legal and economic issues for business will arise from it. We have put together a specific cross-disciplinary team to address particular issues arising from Furlough. Portal The HMRC portal for accessing Government support is now open. Over 50% of UK businesses have Furloughed staff. This is a far greater percentage than the Government had envisaged and will come at a far greater cost. We anticipate that HMRC will adopt a hard line in accessing claims and will reject a number of claims for failing to comply with the terms of the Scheme. We can help you put things right now to ensure that you get the best from the Scheme. Court challenge In cases where HMRC refuse a claim, our dedicated and experienced tax and litigation teams can help you challenge that decision, under human rights and other legislation and, if necessary, by way of the special procedure of judicial review. For small and large businesses alike access to the Scheme funding will be critical. Delays in getting paid under the Scheme may be the difference between a business surviving or failing. If claims are wrongfully denied we can seek redress for the damage that delay has caused your business. HR Issues Employers now may have got to grips with the mechanics of Furloughing staff, but that is not the end of the matter. Provisions regarding sickness, holiday and management do not cease just because an employee is on Furlough. The Scheme is also not going to last forever and given the complex legal landscape and specific timing requirements concerning redundancy, employers cannot delay in taking the tough decisions that businesses will face. The economic effects of the current crisis will not give free rein to employers and dismissals will still come under significant scrutiny. Do not manage your business through this turbulent period only to later let it become a casualty by failing to comply with employment law. Insolvency Not every business will survive. Where businesses are placed into administrative processes, if Furlough claims are refused by HMRC, insolvency practitioners will face the same challenges as businesses and need the same advice. Furlough is unchartered territory. No-one can navigate that alone. The Furlough Advice Team, has been specially developed to address the novel legal and economic issues that will arise. We are here to assist now. Contact the Team Alexandra Carn - Partner, Employment Linky Trott - Partner, Head of Employment David Greene -  Partner, Head of Group Action Simeon Gilchrist - Partner, Restructuring & Insolvency Sean Bannister - Partner, Head of Tax

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