Further to our news article of 22 October 2020, the government has issued an extensive policy paper on the Job Support Scheme, which will be replacing the Coronavirus Job Support Scheme (better known as furlough leave) from 1 November 2020.
Despite this, the new scheme has gradually been moving closer in line with the furlough leave scheme since its announcement on 24 September 2020 and particularly so in the last few weeks.
Crucially, the Job Support Scheme is being developed to support those employers and employees whose work is decreasing owing to the impact of Covid-19 (which the policy paper refers to as "JSS Open") and those employers and employees who have been affected by business closures because of restrictions stemming from Covid-19 (referred to as "JSS Closed" in the policy paper).
What are JSS Open and JSS Closed?
This is where a business has seen work decrease owing to the impact of Covid-19.
An employer must guarantee and pay an employee at least 20% of their usual working hours to be able to qualify for this scheme. Once they have, the employer will pay the employee 5% of their unworked hours, up to a monthly cap of £125 (although the employer can contribute more than that if they wish to).
From that point, the government will pay the employee 61,67% of the employee's remaining salary, up to a monthly cap of £1,541.75.
If the employee receives less than £3,125 per month, then they should continue to receive at least 73% of their wages.
You must enter into a written agreement with your employees before you do this and any decision to place an employee on the JSS Open model must take account of existing employment law (i.e. you must not place them on the scheme or avoid placing them on the scheme for an unfair reason).
As the name suggests, this is where a business is legally required to close by any of the four governments within the United Kingdom as a direct result of restrictions that are put in place because of Covid-19.
The employee must be unable to work because of this for at least 7 consecutive days.
The scheme is designed to pay two thirds of the wages of employees on the JSS Closed scheme up to a maximum of £2,083.33 per month.
Again, you must reach a written agreement with your employees before you can place them on the JSS Closed model, even though the circumstances require you to close. When deciding which employees to place on the JSS Closed scheme, you must have full regard for employment law (i.e. you must not place those employees on the scheme or avoid placing them on the scheme for an unfair reason).
When will it run from and to?
The scheme - whichever one you need to rely on (and you cannot rely on both at the same time) - will run for 6 months from 1 November 2020 to 30 April 2021.
Employers will be able to start submitting claims from 8 December 2020, but employers should note that they will be claiming the Job Support Scheme grant in arrears (i.e. you must pay your employees first and then reclaim it).
Is there anything else that I need to know?
In a word, yes.
The policy paper is wide-ranging, but it is not yet complete. Even so, we recommend that you read it, as it not only contains the eligibility criteria for applying for the Job Support Scheme, but also contains worked examples and guidance for publicly-funded organisations and charities.
It is also important to note that the policy paper makes it clear that further guidance is coming.
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