COVID-19: Directors on PAYE can furlough

31 March: Company directors that receive salaries through PAYE can be furloughed and apply for a grant of 80% of their salary during the coronavirus pandemic, ICAEW understands.

After examining HMRC guidance ICAEW believes that individuals who are directors of their own family companies and who are themselves paid via PAYE should be eligible for the coronavirus job retention scheme, although the same rules will apply as to other businesses and their employees.

Under the scheme, businesses are able to apply for government grants for employees’ salaries up to the lower of 80% of an employee's regular wage and £2,500 per month for three months from 1 March. The scheme could run for longer if the restrictions in movements to halt the COVID-19 pandemic remain in place.

We are awaiting full details of how the scheme will operate from HMRC, including for directors paid via PAYE but not receiving a consistent, regular monthly salary. We understand the intention of the scheme is to include those on irregular earnings, but full details on how the amount of the grant will be calculated for these individuals have yet to be released. As with other businesses, such directors would need to have been on the payroll on 28 February 2020 and they cannot work while they are on furlough leave. We do not yet know the extent to which minor directorial duties would be disregarded, or whether the requirement that a furloughed employee should do 'no work' would prohibit this.

We recommend all decisions in relation to the furlough scheme, and the reasons for taking them, should be documented together with a suitable audit trail.

It is our view that in such times as we find ourselves, a pragmatic view should be taken.

- Read ICAEW guidance on the coronavirus job retention scheme furlough

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