The UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, announced on the 24th September 2020 the introduction of the Job Support Scheme (JSS). The purpose of the JSS is to aid businesses and individuals currently facing challenging times created by COVID-19, helping employers to retain their workforce. Further iterations of the JSS were detailed on 9th October and 22nd October 2020 as a result of parts of the UK in high alert areas and facing local lockdowns.
What is the Furlough Scheme?
In short, ‘furlough’ broadly means a temporary leave of absence from work. On 20th March, the UK government announced the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to mitigate the likelihood of lay-offs and redundancies as a result of the impact of COVID-19. Employers were able to use the work scheme to retain their employees until they are able to open for business and ‘furlough’ their employees in the meantime. The government grant would cover part of the employee’s wages, up to a cap of £2,500, up until 30 June 2020.
Flexible Furlough Introduction
However, with this initial scheme, those on furlough leave up until 30th June, were not allowed to work or provide services to generate income, or this could impact the grant provided. With businesses across various sectors slowly opening, the Flexible Furlough Scheme was introduced on 1st July 2020.
The flexible furlough scheme applies to employers who previously used the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for their workforce, allowing workers to return to work part-time, and employers are able to claim the grant for normal hours until the end of October. Throughout July – October, alterations to the work scheme were outlined where the government would contribute less and the employer would have to top up the wages to total 80%.
We produced a guide on how to calculate flexible furlough, and to help you understand the complex rules for your business.
What is the Job Support Scheme?
First announced on 24th September, the JSS was specifically created to provide additional support during the winter months of 2020-2021, to ensure jobs across the UK continue to be protected in the difficult months ahead as measures are continued to be put in place to contain the virus. With various businesses being impacted in different ways by the virus, the JSS is designed to provide more tailored support for “viable jobs” in response to their situation and level of demand.
What support is offered for your business and employees with the JSS?
The scheme is broadly broken down into two supportive options, JSS Open and JSS Closed.
With JSS Open, this is targeting employers who are facing decreased demand and are likely to need extra support throughout the Winter months to retain their employees. JSS Open gives employers the option to continue to employ their staff but on shorter hours, as opposed to making them redundant, and the employee will receive 66.67% of their normal pay for the hours not worked if they work a minimum of 20% of their contracted hours. This contribution is made up from both the government and the employer.
The JSS Closed targets employers who legally have to close their current premises as a result of Coronavirus restrictions. The JSS Closed supports employees directly impacted by closure of premises and as a result cannot work, will receive two thirds of their normal pay. This will be paid directly by their current employer, but will be fully funded by the UK government, at a monthly cap of £2,083.33. It’s worth noting that employers are able to contribute further to the employee if they would like to.
Latest JSS Updates:
Following increased region and national restrictions being implemented across the UK, the government expanded the scheme on 9th October and 22nd October to coincide with the tiered system in England.
On 22nd October, when The Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak and Patrick Vallance addressed the nation on the latest COVID-19 situation, Sunak announced that the government will be “making the job support scheme more generous for employers who can open safely, but whom are struggling with the restrictions and the impact on their business”. The announced changes to the JSS mean that employees now only need to work one day a week to be eligible and will now pay 61.67% of employees wages with business paying just 5% of the hours not worked.
Sunak also explained how this support is particularly important for various sectors of the economy, including hospitality, leisure and accommodation. Businesses in the highest alert areas can now apply to their local authorities for cash grants up to £2,100 and this can be backdated to August 2020.
How long will the JSS last?
The Job Support Scheme will be launching on 1st November 2020, after the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme finishes, and is expected to run until 30th April 2021. The terms of the JSS will be reviewed by the UK government in January 2021, and any changes to the scheme will be communicated on gov.uk and on our blog.
Who is eligible for job support?
All small and medium sized companies with a UK bank account and a UK PAYE scheme are eligible to claim the JSS grant. However, larger organisations are required to provide evidence of their turnover being negatively impacted by the pandemic to receive the grant.
The employee must have been on the business’s PAYE payroll on or before 23rd September 2020, but does not include those on zero-hour contracts – further support will be provided in time. In addition, employers can claim the Job Retention Bonus that is worth £1,000 for each employee that is still employed until at least 31st January 2021.
How to Apply for the Job Support Scheme
It is not currently clear how employers apply for the JSS, but government is advising businesses to be “ready to claim” when the scheme opens on gov.uk from 8th December 2020, covering salaries for pay periods ending and paid in November. Please, view their application advice here. Further guidance is expected to be released at the end of October, and we’ll keep you updated when this happens.
For now, we assume that similar levels of record-keeping will be required as per the CJRS and Flexible Furlough requirements. It’s likely that time and attendance software will play a critical role in the accuracy of your workforces’ records and compliance with the government requirements which make you and your business a candidate for financial support.
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If you are concerned about managing your workforce during this time, we can help assess your current workforce management solutions and can even get time and attendance systems up and running in under two weeks. Talk to a member of our team about your unique challenges today to understand how we might be able to help you.