The HMRC guidance - issued late on Friday night - on the implementation of the Job Retention Scheme has caused yet more confusion and consternation, and appears to be a huge blow for freelancers on fixed term contracts. We've written again to the Chancellor on behalf of the TM community asking for him to intervene and be true to his word that people could be furloughed ''whatever (the) reason'' their job had ended.
The Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP
Chancellor of the Exchequer
1 Horse Guards Road.
20th April 2020
On Friday 17th April, HMRC updated its guidance on the implementation of the Job Retention Scheme. The new guidance represents a body blow to tens of thousands of PAYE freelancers working in the creative industries by denying them the opportunity to be furloughed.
Specifically, the new guidance suggests that those whose contracts came to an end in March cannot be rehired and furloughed. This directly contradicts the assurances you yourself gave that people who were on the payroll at the end of February could be furloughed ‘’whatever [the] reason’’ their contract subsequently came to an end.
Moreover, the new guidance discriminates against these fixed term contract workers, depriving them of the crucial financial lifeline that has been offered to other PAYE employees.
The Talent Manager has 100,000 TV freelancer members, as well as more than 3,000 production companies who rely on these highly skilled professionals to produce the world-class content the nation consumes, and whose endeavours contribute substantially to UK PLC.
These are dedicated professionals who have paid their taxes and national insurance contributions – and will be expected to help contribute their share to paying back the additional national debts now being accrued – yet are being denied any of the support being given both to full time PAYE workers or the fully self-employed.
Just a couple of the obvious anomalies – both of which are counter to the spirit of your schemes - are worth mentioning:
- How can it be fair that someone who was made redundant – whether C-19 related or not – can be rehired and furloughed, whereas someone whose contract came to a natural end in March, cannot?
- Similarly, how can the Government justify someone being rehired and furloughed by a former employer who they had given notice to, and left, if the job they were moving onto no longer exists, yet deny the same recourse to people whose fixed term contract came to an end and found that their next confirmed job had been cancelled and/ or any other prospective work had vanished overnight?
Research shows that 90% of TV freelance professionals are currently not working due to C-19, and 75% of them are ineligible for either the JRS or SEISS. A survey last week found that about half of TV freelancers were now considering leaving the profession.
Without urgent amendments to your financial support schemes to ensure that all those whose contracts came to an end can be rehired and furloughed, as well as other adjustments outlined by us and others previously, a world leading UK industry will suffer irrevocable harm.
Sarah Lee & Matt Born