Oct 8

The new Job Support Scheme….some of your questions answered….!

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The Job Support Scheme (JSS) will provide ongoing wage support for people in work, provided that the employer meets certain access conditions, the employee is working at least 33% of their usual hours, and the employer also provides additional wage support. It will start on 1 November and continue until the end of April 2021. The furlough scheme will come to an end on 31 October 2020 as planned.

Is the scheme open to all employers?

The JSS is open to all employers with eligible employees, a UK bank account and a UK PAYE scheme.

Do we need to prove that our trading conditions have been impacted?

Not if you are an SME. If you are a large employer, however, you will need to demonstrate that your turnover is lower as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

What if some parts of our business have been impacted but not others?

If you are an SME, you won’t need to pass any financial impact test and you can access the JSS even if the pandemic has only had an impact on a small part of your business.

What’s the definition of an SME for these purposes?

This has not been announced yet. If it is based on the definition in the Companies Act 2006, it will mean (broadly) that a company would be defined as an SME if it meets at least two of the following requirements:
• annual turnover of £36 million or below
• balance sheet total of £18 million or below
• 250 or fewer employees

Which employees can we put on the scheme?

To be eligible for the JSS, employees must have been on your PAYE payroll on or before 23 September 2020. This means a Real Time Information (RTI) submission notifying payment to that employee to HMRC must have been made on or before 23 September 2020.
The employee must work at least 33% of their usual hours.

What if there’s just no work at all for some employees?

The minimum hours requirement is a key component of the JSS. If you don’t have enough work to provide even a third of an employee’s usual hours, you will not be able to put them into the scheme.

We don’t think we can guarantee 33% of usual hours every week – can we still use the JSS?

Employees will be able to cycle on and off the scheme and do not need to be working the same pattern each month – although each short-time working arrangement must cover a minimum period of seven days.
This suggests that you may be able to move employees out of the JSS for periods in which they are not working 33% of their usual hours (although you would need to agree with your employees what will happen in those periods).

If we put employees into the scheme, do we need to promise that we won’t make them redundant for six months?

No, there is no ban on making redundancies for the whole six months of the scheme – but 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. The employee would have to be moved out of the JSS and any claim for grant stopped if you needed to make them redundant before the scheme closed.

Can we claim the £1,000 job retention bonus while also claiming under the JSS?

Yes. You can claim your £1,000 bonus for bringing a furloughed employee back to work in addition to claiming ongoing support for that employee under the JSS. To qualify for the bonus, the employee would need to remain continuously employed through to the end of January 2021 and earn an average of £520 per month over that period.

Who pays what under the scheme?

The idea is that employees working at least 33% of their usual hours can have their pay topped up.

The unworked time is essentially split into three. The employer pays for a third of the unworked time, the government also pays for a third of the unworked time (up to a cap of £697.92) and the final third is unpaid.

What about National Insurance Contributions and employer pension contributions?

The grant will not cover Class 1 Employer NICS or pension contributions, although these contributions will remain payable by the employer.

It seems most likely that employers will need to pay these contributions in respect of both the government top-up and the employer top-up, as well as in respect of pay for hours actually worked.

Can we agree a different working pattern each week?

Yes, employees do not have to be working the same pattern each month, but each short-time working arrangement must cover a minimum period of seven days. This suggests that you can claim for a different amount of unworked hours each week, subject to the employee working at least 33% of their usual hours.

What if the employee takes holiday?

It is unclear at the moment as to whether holidays will “count” towards the 33% minimum working hours or if they will be treated as unworked hours. Employers may need to top up holiday pay in some cases to ensure that employees are receiving the correct statutory entitlement.

What if the employee is sick or under official instruction to self-isolate?

The employee would be entitled to statutory sick pay (SSP) in these circumstances, but it is not clear how time off sick will be treated under the JSS.

What agreements do we need in place?

Employers must agree the new short-time working arrangements with their staff, make any changes to the employment contract by agreement, and notify the employee in writing. This agreement must be made available to HMRC on request.

Get in touch with GOODHR if you want a template letter to reflect the new short-time working arrangements under the Job Support Scheme.

Either call on: +44(0)7917 878384 or email nicola.goodridge@goodhr.co.uk