As most practitioners will be aware, there has been much debate about the position of directors in furlough under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). One of the sticking points was around annual payrolls.

Many companies with owner-manager directors may have the director on a basic salary that is processed once a year on an annual payroll scheme, typically on 31 March each year. 

The HMRC guidance for employees/directors who can be furloughed states the following:

You can only claim for furloughed employees who were employed on 19 March 2020 and who were on your PAYE  payroll on or before 19 March 2020. This means an RTI submission notifying payment for the tax year 2019/20 in respect of that employee must have been made on or before 19 March 2020.  

It was previously thought that those directors who were already on the payroll, albeit annually, in previous years (2018/19 and earlier) will have had an RTI submission notifying payment to HMRC before 19 March 2020 in such cases.

Feedback received from some ACCA members in the earlier weeks when the CJRS claims portal opened seemed to suggest that they have had success in convincing HMRC that a previous year’s RTI submission could count for the purposes of the furlough scheme. 

In more recent weeks, it seems that HMRC has been steadfastly refusing these claims completely if the RTI was not submitted on or before 19 March. 

Despite efforts made by the ACCA policy team to get further clarity on this matter, HMRC has been adamant on its stance that if the payments for 2019/20 were made after 19 March, then these are not eligible to claim the furlough grant.  

While ACCA will continue to feed back such issues to HMRC to further simplify the claims process, we would urge members who face similar issues to get talking to HMRC following submission of their furlough claims.

Valuable member feedback such as this helps us shape policy matters for the benefit of all members, and we would welcome insights on further success stories or otherwise. Please email your feedback to advisory@accaglobal.com.

Directors' duties

As a reminder, there are of course other matters, such as the duties that directors on furlough can carry out. Following feedback from ACCA, the Treasury has directed HMRC to revise the guidance to include clarification as below:

As office holders, salaried company directors are eligible to be furloughed and receive support through this scheme. Company directors owe duties to their company which are set out in the Companies Act 2006…. Where furloughed directors need to carry out particular duties to fulfil the statutory obligations they owe to their company, they may do so provided they do no more than would reasonably be judged necessary for that purpose, i.e. they should not do work of a kind they would carry out in normal circumstances to generate commercial revenue or provides services to or on behalf of their company.

As such, work undertaken by a director of a company to fulfil a duty or other obligation arising by or under an Act of Parliament relating to the filing of company accounts or provision of other information relating to the administration of the director’s company will be disregarded for the purposes of the rule stating no work can be carried out by furloughed staff.