Coronavirus Lay Employment Support – UPDATED 27 JULY

Our Lay Employment Officer, Rob Cooper rob.cooper@2bpeople.com 07947 533598, can provide support for any queries regarding recruitment or management of lay employees during the coronavirus pandemic or at any time.

Most employers are facing urgent questions about the wellbeing of their staff, changes to duties required, financial position of the employing body, and rapidly changing guidance from government.

Many of our staff will be able to continue to work remotely. Others will be unable to work at this time due to closure of church buildings, restrictions on movement, or their own health or family situations.

Frequently Asked Questions

Responses from Rob to Frequently Asked Questions are available here

FAQ 18 June 2020 RC v4 (last updated 22/06/2020)

If a member of your staff is unable to perform any work and voluntarily agrees to be “furloughed” use this template to formally confirm the change in employment status with them

Letter template (Last updated 30/03/2020)

If your member of staff is to fully or partially return to work use this template to formally confirm the change in employment status with them.

Return from Furlough Template Letter (Last updated 22/06/20)

These documents will be updated regularly, including as new guidance emerges from government. Please keep checking this page on a regular basis for updates.

As a District we continue to strongly recommend that Methodist employers do all they can to top up furloughed workers pay beyond the amount reimbursed by government, so that furloughed employees do not suffer any loss of income at this time.

You do not need District permission to furlough workers, but please inform Rob if you do, so that we can keep you informed of any changes to the furlough scheme.

If you are planning other changes to terms of employment, such as a permanent reduction in hours, as a result of the pandemic you still need to consult with Rob in advance.

If your church is facing significant loss of income and hence may struggle to pay employee wages, contact your circuit treasurer in the first instance, or Neil Harland, Mission Development Support Worker mission@sheffieldmethodist.org 07483 308008.

Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme

Government grants to pay part of the salary of furloughed employees can now be claimed. If you have furloughed employees you should start the process of reclaiming government funding as soon as possible. Whilst the HMRC scheme is making quick payments, claims are fiddly, cannot be automated and there is no leeway for errors. This is placing incredible pressure on payroll bureaus and small accountancy firms, who have huge volumes of data to process.

If you use the Connexional payroll bureau, they can claim furlough grants for you.

Download and save to your computer the “Furlough Scheme Application (Excel)” spreadsheet on the Connexional employment advice website. You will need a password to open this spreadsheet, which can be obtained by emailing payrollbureau@methodistchurch.org.uk

This form will be updated to deal with the new “flexible furloughing” arrangements in place from 1 July (see below: Flexible Furlough Calculations)

Add information about your organisation and employees who have been furloughed to this spreadsheet. This information must be complete and accurate, otherwise your claim may be rejected by HMRC. Of particular note:

  • If you are unsure of your PAYE reference number the bureau can provide
  • The “bank address” is the address where your bank statements are sent. Grants cannot be paid into CFB bank accounts by HMRC, and must instead be paid into a regular high street bank account
  • Employee national insurance numbers and payroll numbers can be found on the “Debit Statement” (the monthly summary of pay for each employee you receive in the post from the payroll bureau). Note that April and subsequent Debit Statements cannot be posted until lockdown restrictions permit bureau staff to travel into central London, although they can email information to you on request
  • If your employees receive the same salary each month, this is their “monthly pay”.
  • If an employee’s pay varies each month you will need to follow the detailed HMRC guidance to calculate “monthly pay” and keep a record of your calculations. Broadly speaking this is the higher of average monthly pay from April 2019 to March 2020 or (if they were in post at start of April 2019) their pay during the equivalent month last year. There are nuances to the calculation so follow the HMRC guidance and explain to the payroll bureau that you have used average or last year pay. You must pay your member of staff at least 80% of the “monthly pay” number you are quoting on this form whilst they are on furlough.
  • You do not need to tell the payroll bureau whether your employees are part of a pension scheme or how much employer’s national insurance you have paid
  • If you have reduced employee pay to 80% of their contracted salary when furloughing you must separately instruct the bureau to amend salary payments
  • CJRS claims for the period to 30 June must be submitted to HMRC by 31 July. We recommend that you provide all information necessary for the payroll bureau to recover June costs for you by the end of June to ensure that they have time to submit your claim before the HMRC deadline.

When you have completed this spreadsheet, email to the payroll bureau for them to claim on your behalf. You should receive an acknowledgement of receipt. Do not remove or change the password.

If the status of your employees changes, for example if a furlough end date is amended or you have furloughed another member of staff, send an updated version of this spreadsheet to payrollbureau@methodistchurch.org.uk making clear in your email what information you have changed

Furlough grants cannot be claimed in advance of employees being paid. The payroll bureau will convert the information on this spreadsheet into monthly claims to HMRC, which will arrive separately in your bank account.

If you use another payroll bureau you should contact them as soon as possible to confirm that they are able to process claims for you and what information they require to do this

Flexible furlough calculations

A new spreadsheet is available if you have employees who are flexibly furloughed and you use the Methodist payroll bureau. For those employees not doing any work, continue to use the original spreadsheet. Some of the data required on the flexible furlough spreadsheet requires careful calculation, and is not entirely clear from the descriptions on the spreadsheet:

Furlough start date and end date – unless your employee is ending their furlough before the end of the month, these will be the first and last day of the month you are claiming for. You will need to submit a new form each month

Full monthly pay – this is the “usual pay” as you were using for months up to and including June. For employees with fixed monthly pay it will be the same every month, for employees with variable pay it may change each month.

Actual Hours worked for the Full Monthly Pay in column F – this is the “usual hours” your employee would have worked had they not been on furlough. It must be calculated as follows (detailed HMRC guidance):

For employees with fixed weekly hours:

  • Record the contractual number of hours worked per week in February e.g. 28 hours/ week
  • Divide by 7 to get the average hours worked each day = 28/7 = 4 hours/ day
  • Multiply by the number of calendar days in the month = 31 x 4 = 124 usual hours for July
  • Round to the nearest whole number

For employees with variable weekly hours, work out the average hours per day as either the average hours for 12 months ended 31 March 2020 and hours worked in the equivalent month last year, depending on how you calculate “usual pay”.

Actual Hours worked for Part-Time Pay in column H – this is the hours your flexibly furloughed employee worked during the month (for which you will have kept detailed records), to the nearest whole number

Part time Pay (for those coming back on part-time basis) – this calculates the proportion of pay that you cannot claim furlough grants against.

  • Divide Full monthly pay by Actual Hours worked for the Full Monthly Pay in column F to calculate the average rate of pay for this month (note this will not necessarily be the same as the actual hourly rate of pay)
  • Multiply the average rate of pay for this month by Actual Hours worked for Part-Time Pay in column H to calculate the pay relating to the time your employee has been working.
  • This is the Part time Pay (for those coming back on part-time basis) (Note that this will not necessarily be the same as the hours worked multiplied by their hourly salary).

A full worked calculation (which does include national insurance calculations not relevant to us) is available from HMRC

If you calculate and submit your own payroll you will need to follow HMRC guidance to submit monthly grant claims.

Contact your circuit treasurer or Neil Harland if you are still unsure what to do having read this guidance.

Additional Guidance

Further Connexional guidance relating to coronavirus and employees can be found at methodist.org.uk/for-churches/employees-and-volunteers/lay-employment-advisory-information/

This page also contains the Lay Employment Advisory Pack, which includes procedures which must be followed in recruitment and management of all lay employees.

Government advice for employers can be found at gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses