October 23rd, 2020 / Insight posted in Coronavirus

Job support scheme FAQ

as at 22 October 2020

Job Support Scheme Open:

What is the job support scheme open?

From 1 November 2020 until April 2021, the Job Support Scheme Open will protect jobs in businesses that can operate safely but who are facing lower demand over the winter months due to the Coronavirus.

What will the scheme cover?

The scheme will provide a grant to employers for employees who are working a minimum of 20% of their contracted hours. The government will then pay 61.67% of their unworked hours up to a cap of £1,541.75, in conjunction with the employer who will pay 5% up to a cap of £125. Therefore, employees could receive a minimum of 73% of their contracted salary through the scheme depending on their rate of pay.

Employers using the Job Support Scheme Open will also be able to claim the Job Retention Bonus if they meet the eligibility criteria. More information regarding the bonus will be announced shortly.

What is the minimum amount of hours an employee needs to work to be eligible?

An employee has to work a minimum of 20% of their contracted hours for the first three months of the scheme. After three months, the government may look to increase the minimum hour’s threshold.

What if my employees work varying hours?

For employees who work flexible hours, their usual working hours can be calculated using their previous 12 months of employment (not including any furlough period). The government is expected to provide further guidance confirming the calculation for the JSS Open.

Is the government’s contribution capped?

Yes, they will contribute a maximum of £1,541.75 per month for each employee. This is equivalent to an employee earning an annual salary of £37,500 working the minimum 20% of their contracted hours.

Is the company’s contribution to unworked hours capped?

Yes, they will contribute a maximum of £125 per month towards unworked hours for each employee. This is equivalent to an employee earning an annual salary of £37,500 working the minimum 20% of their contracted hours.

Can employers top up their employee’s pay above the 5% contribution?

Yes, an employer can choose to do this at their own discretion.

Does the JSS cover employer NI and pension contributions?

No, the employer will need to pay these contributions in addition to the scheme.

Is the scheme a loan or a grant for employers?

The scheme is a government grant and employers eligible to claim for their employees will not be expected to pay the money back.

Is it mandatory for employers to claim through the scheme for employees placed on short-time working?

Employers will be able to choose whether to claim for their employees through the scheme however, this could be considered as an alternative to redundancy.

What is meant by viable jobs?

Although there is no definition of a viable job from the government, our understanding is that if there is meaningful work for the employee to do, albeit on reduced hours, and the role has not been made redundant, employers can claim for employees in these positions.

Eligibility for the scheme

What businesses are able to claim through the scheme?

This is automatically available to all small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) and also will be available to larger businesses who can prove they have been adversely affected as a result of Coronavirus. Large businesses (with 250 employees or more) will have to meet a financial impact test. The scheme is only available to those whose turnover has stayed level or is lower now than before experiencing difficulties from Coronavirus.

Partially publicly funded organisations are eligible where their private revenues have been disrupted. All other eligibility requirements apply to these employers.

Employers must ensure they have a UK bank account and UK PAYE scheme.

What type of employee is eligible?

All staff on any type of contract will be eligible including those on variable, zero hours and agency workers.

What makes an employee eligible for the scheme?

  • Working reduced hours due to the impact of Coronavirus on their company
  • Working at least 20% of contracted hours
  • Must be paid their normal contracted wage for their worked hours
  • The new scheme will apply to individuals on an employer’s PAYE payroll between 6 April 2019 to 23:59 on 23 September 2020 and this means a RTI submission for the employee must have been made on or before 23 September 2020.
  • Must not be working their notice due to redundancy or made redundant while claiming the grant

Can my employee’s complete training as part of their working hours?

Yes, they can complete training in their working hours and the employer can claim through the scheme.

JSS process

What must I do to claim through the scheme?

Before claiming through the scheme, employers must agree any new short-time working arrangements with employees or notify those who already have this clause included within their contract, in writing.

How can I submit a claim through the scheme?

The government will launch a portal for employers to submit claims online from 8 December 2020. They have confirmed that the grant money will be paid to employers in arrears.

What checks will HMRC perform on those who claim through the scheme?

HMRC will check to ensure that all claims are valid, with any fraudulent or incorrect claims expected to be repaid to the government. HMRC may also request to see written, agreed short-time working arrangements with employees.

HMRC intends to publish the names of employers who use the scheme and are encouraging the public to report fraud to HMRC if they have evidence to suggest that an employer is abusing the scheme.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and JSS Open

Can I use the scheme for employees I have furloughed previously?

Yes, as long as they meet the other eligibility criteria, they can move from the furlough scheme to the job support scheme at the start of November.

Can I use the scheme for employees I have NOT previously furloughed?

Yes, employers can claim through the JSS Open for employees they have not previously furloughed as long as they meet the eligibility criteria.

Our business didn’t furlough any employees, can we still use the scheme?

Yes, but employers will still have to meet the criteria to claim through the JSS Open for employees.

Will there be a similar offering to flexi-furlough for employees on the scheme?

Employees will be able to cycle on and off the scheme but each short-time working agreement must cover a minimum period of seven days. We expect further guidance to be released by the government.

JSS Open and redundancy

Can I use the scheme for employees in their notice period?

From the initial guidance released, it seems that if an employee has resigned and is working their notice period, their hours worked through this period can be claimed through the JSS Open. However, we are awaiting further guidance to be released to confirm this advice.

Can I use the scheme for employees who are working their notice period as part of their redundancy?

No, the scheme cannot be used for employees working their notice period due to redundancy. This is one big difference between the furlough scheme and the JSS.

Can you use the scheme to pay statutory or company redundancy pay?

The purpose of the scheme is to support employees who are in viable positions within a company but on reduced hours. The scheme cannot be used to claim any part of statutory or company redundancy pay.

Job Support Scheme Closed:

What is the Job Support Scheme Closed scheme?

The JSS will be expanded in order to provide temporary support to businesses whose premises have been legally required to close as a direct result of Coronavirus restrictions set by the UK government. The expansion scheme will support businesses throughout the period that they are affected by these restrictions, with wage costs for those employees whose place of work has been forced to close.

How long is the JSS Expansion available for?

Initially for 6 months, with effect from 1 November 2020. The scheme will be further reviewed in January 2021.

Is my business eligible?

In addition to the eligibility criteria set out for the JSS, set out above, the government has confirmed that the JSS Expansion will only be available for businesses that have been legally required to close their premises as a direct result of the UK government restrictions in place at that time. This includes premises restricted to delivery or collection only services from their premises.

Which employees are eligible?

You can only claim for:

  • employees who meet the criteria for the JSS Open as set out above;
  • employees who are working 0% of their contractual hours and are not carrying out any work on behalf of the business from other premises for a period in which you are claiming the grant for;
  • employees who have been instructed to cease work for a minimum of 7 consecutive days (an employee can return to work at a later date).

How much will the scheme cover?

The scheme will offer you a grant to cover wage costs, which will be calculated on the number of eligible employees you have (those who have been instructed to cease work due to the workplace premises closing). The government will pay two-thirds of eligible employees’ usual contractual pay, up to a maximum of £2,083.33 per month.

Does the JSS Expansion cover employer NI and pension contributions?

No, the employer will remain responsible for paying NIC and pension contribution in full.

Do I have to top up employees pay?

No, you will not be required to top up or make any further contribution to wage costs, unless you choose to do so.

What happens when the premises are legally allowed to reopen?

When the government confirms your business is safe to reopen, you will be entitled to go on to claim under the JSS Open if your business is still facing reduced demand due to the impact of the Coronavirus.

How do I claim?

Employers will be able to make a claim on a monthly basis online through gov.uk with effect from December 2020 and this will be reviewed further in January 2021. Payments will be made in arrears, reimbursing the employer for the government’s contribution.

All other advice with regards to eligibility, notice, redundancies and fraudulent HMRC claims remain as set out in the main JSS Open advice.