Over the past couple of weeks, the Government have started to put stricter rules in place across certain areas of the UK, most notably in the North of England, as Covid-19 cases begin to increase.
This has included a clear message to businesses and employers to, where possible, allow their employees to work from home.
It seems that these restrictions and this disruption to our everyday lives will continue well into next year and this has caused a lot of concern for employers with regards to their furloughed workers as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme comes to an end in just three weeks time.
As a result, Rishi Sunak recently announced a brand new scheme that will open on the 1st of November and is designed to replace the furlough scheme and help protect viable jobs in business that are struggling financially or experiencing a drop in demand due to Covid-19.
Under this new scheme, employees will need to work a minimum of one third (33%) of their normal working hours which will be paid in full by their employer.
The pay for their unworked hours will then be split into thirds – one third paid by their employer, one third by the government and the final third being paid by the employee (in the form of unpaid wages).
For example, if an employee works the minimum of 33% of their normal working hours, their employer will pay them for those hours PLUS a further 22% for the unworked hours. The government will top this up by contributing 22% which leaves the worker with 77% of their normal income.
Employees can work more than a third of their normal working hours, and the same rules will apply (employer would pay for the hours worked and the unworked hours will be split into thirds – one third paid by the employer, another by the Government and another by the employee).
However, it’s important to note that the Government contribution will be capped at £697.92 a month.
The idea is that furloughed workers (many of whom have returned to work on a part-time basis at this point) will be able to transition smoothly from the furlough scheme onto this new Job Support Scheme rather than facing redundancy.
Employers using the Job Support Scheme will also be able to claim the Job Retention Bonus if they meet eligibility criteria.
Updated 12th October
The scheme has now been extended for any businesses that are required to close due to local or national restrictions. In that situation, the government will pay two thirds of their employees’ salaries, up to a maximum of £2,100 per month.
Under the scheme, employers will not be required to contribute towards wages and will only be asked to cover NICS and pension contributions.
Businesses will only be eligible to claim the grant while they are subject to restrictions and employees must be off work for a minimum of seven consecutive days.
Who is eligible for the Job Support Scheme?
- All SME’s in the UK
- Large businesses whose turnover is lower now than before experiencing difficulties due to coronavirus (they will need to pass a financial assessment test).
- Employers with a UK bank account and UK PAYE schemes
- Employees who have been on your payroll on or before 23rd September 2020
- Employees who can work a minimum of 33% of their normal working hours
How do I claim?
The scheme will run from the 1st November 2020 until the end of April 2021 and employers will be able to start claiming through Gov.uk from December 2020.
Following this, payments will be made monthly after the employee’s pay period (i.e. the employee must have already been paid and payment reported to the HMRC via an RTI return).
Other key points regarding the Job Support Scheme
- Grant payments will be made in arrears, reimbursing the employer for the Government’s contribution. The grant will not cover Class 1 employer NICs or pension contributions, although these contributions will remain payable by the employer.
- Employees cannot be made redundant or put on notice of redundancy during the period within which their employer is claiming the grant for that employee.
- HMRC will check claims. Payments may be withheld or need to be paid back if a claim is found to be fraudulent or based on incorrect information.
- Employers must agree the new short-time working arrangements with their staff, make any changes to the employment contract by agreement, and notify the employee in writing.
Is the Job Support Scheme the best thing for my business?
Unfortunately the scheme won’t save all jobs and, inevitably, if you need any advice or support on how to make redundancies then please call us today for pragmatic advice on not only achieving fair and swift redundancies, but where appropriate, help to mitigate your redundancy costs.
There are also lots of other options to the Job Support Scheme that may prove more financially viable for the business, which includes 3 months unpaid lay off at a cost of just £150.
If you need any further advice or have questions regarding the Job Support Scheme, or how to manage redundancies or to find out more about statutory lay off, then our HR Consultants are on the other end of the phone and ready to help. We can also assist with writing up the necessary documentation needed to start putting employees onto this new scheme, so that you can focus on the day to day running of your business.
Call us today on 0845 2626 260 for more details.