In March 2020 the government introduced a series of emergency measures to try to support workers and businesses during this unprecedented time.
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) was the UK government’s flagship support measure for organisations during the COVID-19 pandemic. It offered grants to cover a proportion of the salaries of furloughed staff. Furlough was designed to facilitate businesses remaining open, but with reduced staffing, to reflect reduced demand whilst supporting the payment of the wages of furloughed employees. CJRS helped to avoid many redundancies being made, although unfortunately, it did not save every job at risk.
Whilst there have had to be a number of role redundancies and there have also been numerous business closures since the start of the pandemic, with the furlough scheme due to end on 31st October 2020, the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has recently announced the impending introduction of a further scheme to help employees over the winter months by trying to prevent further – otherwise inevitable – redundancies being made and consequent business closures. The new scheme is called the Job Support Scheme (JSS).
What is the Job Support Scheme?
Whilst the CJRS was designed to protect the jobs of employees who were required not to work at all whilst furloughed, the JSS is designed to help people who continue to work, but whom work reduced hours.
Employers together with the government will then top up the wages for the hours which would now not be worked by employees; with the aim of enabling workers to keep their jobs by offering employers a sustainable way of keeping them employed in the short term.
The government will pay a third of hours not worked, with the employer also contributing a third of pay. This should result in employees earning at least 77% of their normal wages for a reasonable period of time.
The JSS will open on November 1st 2020 when furlough finishes and will last for six months.
Who is eligible for the Job Support Scheme?
The JSS is available to employees who are on employers’ PAYE payrolls on or before 23rd September 2020.
For the first three months of the scheme, employees must work at least 33% of their usual hours.
After 3 months, the Government will consider whether to increase the minimum hour’s threshold.
The Government’s contribution will be capped at £697.92 a month.
What does it mean to be on reduced hours?
- Employee must be working at least 33% of their usual hours;
- For the time worked, employees must be paid their normal contracted wage;
- For time not worked, the employee will be paid up to two-thirds of their usual
- 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.
What does the future look like?
It is hoped that the JSS will help keep more people in their jobs and it is hoped it will act as yet another way of granting a chance to the economy of recovering when conditions for industry improve.
Times are still hard ahead but this may be a reprieve for a proportion of the population who would otherwise be likely to have faced a bleak winter outlook.
For more information on legal updates and changes during the Coronavirus pandemic, visit our Coronavirus Legal Advice hub.
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