The announcement of a return to lockdown for (at least) one month has caused Prime Minister Boris Johnson to extend the Government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS, commonly referred to as furlough) at least until December (having originally been supposed to end on 31 October 2020).
The extended scheme can be used by employers to assist with wage costs on a full-time or a flexible basis, with the government contributing up to 80% of wages (subject to a cap of £2,500), while the employer is only required to make pension contributions and NICs for the hours or days the employee does not work. This is effectively a return to the way CJRS operated in August 2020.
Under the extended CJRS, there is no requirement for an employee to have been furloughed previously - the only criteria is that an employee must have been on payroll (and notified to HMRC) on or before 30 October 2020.
The Job Support Scheme (intended to be a successor to CJRS) has been postponed, the intent being to introduce it when the furlough scheme (finally) comes to an end.
This extended Job Retention Scheme will operate as the previous scheme did, with businesses being paid upfront to cover wages costs. There will be a short period when we need to change the legal terms of the scheme and update the system and businesses will be paid in arrears for that period.