Previously, the scheme only supported those already employed on 28 February, and excluded those offered jobs for March but had not yet started work, including thousands of seasonal staff due to start for Easter and the summer season.
To qualify, workers will need to have been on the payroll by 19 March, and the extension will not cover anyone put on the PAYE system later in the month.
“This is great news for the sector and a welcome sign that the Government has listened to our concerns and those of the workforce," says Kate Nicholls, CEO of UKHospitality.
“This will provide some very valuable peace of mind for employees who had missed the previous deadline, and it will give businesses some breathing-room knowing that they will be in a stronger situation once they are in a position to reopen.”
London Union CEO Jonathan Downey has been less enthusiastic, saying that the update is “good but not as useful as I first thought,” and advising operators to “try to work out if this helps you get any more people in the boat [furloughed].”
“It will mean that some people who unfairly fell through the gap between 28 February and 20 March can now be furloughed too, provided that they were on PAYE payroll and this was notified to HMRC on or before 19 March.”
The portal for making claims under the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will open next week on Monday 20 April. The scheme allows employers to claim 80% monthly wages up to £2,500 for furloughed employees unable to work as a result of the Coronavirus crisis.