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15/10/2020

The new Job Support Scheme - Your questions answered

Job Support Scheme Amendment

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a further amendment to the Job Support Scheme (JSS), which is due to commence on 1 November 2020.

When JSS was originally announced, it required employees to work a minimum of 33% of their normal hours. This has now been reduced to 20%, meaning that employees working as little as one day a week are now eligible for the scheme.

Additionally, the employer contribution to the ‘unworked’ hours has been significantly reduced from 33% to just 5%. This means it will now be cheaper for businesses to keep employees rather than make them redundant. Job Retention Bonus of £1,000 remains unchanged.

The Job Support Scheme (JSS) will replace the furlough scheme and will come into play on 1 November 2020. In this article, we look at FAQs covering how the scheme works, who is eligible and specific difficulties employers and employees might have concerns about.

Which employees are eligible for JSS?

Employees who have been on the PAYE payroll on or before 23 September 2020 are eligible for the JSS. They must also work at least 20% of their usual hours.

Can only businesses who furloughed employees use the JSS?

No, the JSS scheme may be used by employers even if they did not take advantage of the furlough scheme. Also, employees do not need to have been furloughed to be eligible for the JSS. As a result, the JSS is open to employees who have continued to work throughout the coronavirus pandemic, but who have been working reduced hours.

If employees enter the scheme, does the employer need to guarantee they will not be made redundant for six months?

There will be no ban on redundancies during the six months of the JSS. The government factsheet outlines that employees may not be made redundant or given notice of redundancy while they are in the JSS. However, employers can move an employee out of the JSS and make them redundant.

What happens if there is a local lockdown and employees in the JSS can’t work?

At present, it has not been made clear how the JSS will be affected by a local lockdown where there is no work available for employees.

Can employees take a holiday while in the JSS?

It is unclear whether holidays will form part of the 20% minimum working hours requirement, or whether they will be regarded as unworked hours. In certain circumstances, employers may be required to ‘top-up’ holiday pay to ensure that employees are receiving the pay they are entitled to.

What if an employee has to take time off sick or self-isolate?

Employees who need to take time off sick will be entitled to statutory sick pay (SSP). However, it is not yet clear how JSS will be affected by time off sick.

For more information contact our employment team on 01484 821 300.