Analysing the Job Support Scheme

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Chancellor Rishi Sunak presented his Winter Economy Plan on 24 September. A Job Support Scheme (JSS) was announced, which is designed to support viable UK employers who face lower demand due to the coronavirus (COVID-19), and to keep their employees attached to the workforce.

Following the initial announcement, the Chancellor announced an extension of the JSS. The Job Support Scheme Closed (JSS Closed) is designed to provide further support for businesses that have been legally required to close as a direct result of the COVID-19 restrictions set by one or more of the four governments of the UK. On 22 October the government revised the JSS to increase the scale of support available.

The JSS Open and JSS Closed are introduced from 1 December. The existing Job Retention Scheme, known as the furlough scheme, ends on 30 October.

Taking a look at the JSS

For employers to participate in the scheme:

  • employees will need to work a minimum of 20% of their usual hours
  • for every hour not worked, the employer will pay 5% of the employee's 'usual hourly wage' up to a cap of £125
  • for every hour not worked, the government will pay 61.67% of the employee's 'usual hourly wage'
  • the government contribution will be capped at £1,541.75 per month
  • Class 1 employer national insurance contributions (NICs) and pension contributions will be due on the employee's earnings and will be payable in full by the employer.

'Usual wages' calculations will follow a similar methodology as those for the furlough scheme. The scheme is scheduled to run for six months from 1 December 2020.

Full details will be set out in guidance which is to follow.

Employees using the scheme will receive at least 73% of their pay, where the government contribution has not been capped. The government has issued some examples of how the JSS will work. Here we set out the details of one of these examples.

Example

Dave normally works five days a week and earns £1,400 a month working in a restaurant. His employer is experiencing reduced sales due to COVID-19. Rather than making Dave redundant his employer puts Dave on the JSS, working 20% of his usual hours.

Under the JSS:

  • his employer pays Dave £280 for these hours
  • for the time he is not working (80%) he will get 66.67% of his pay for that time. His total wage package is 73%, being £1,027
  • the government will give a grant worth £691 (61.67% of hours not worked) to Dave's employer and his employer will pay a further £56 for hours not worked (5% of wages).

Eligibility

All small and medium-sized enterprises will be eligible and will not be subject to financial assessment. Large businesses will have to meet a financial assessment test, so the scheme is only available to those businesses whose turnover has stayed level is lower now than before experiencing difficulties from COVID-19. The government also expects that large employers will not be making distributions while using the scheme.

Job Support Scheme Closed

The JSS Closed provides temporary support to businesses whose premises have been legally required to close as a direct result of COVID-19 restrictions set by one or more of the four governments of the UK.

The scheme will be available from 1 December and is scheduled for six months. Employers will be able to make a claim on a monthly basis online through gov.uk.

Claims must not overlap and must be made monthly in arrears. The payments will be taxable and employers will be required to cover employer NICs and automatic enrolment pension contributions in full, where applicable. HMRC will check claims and payments may be withheld or need to be paid back if a claim is found to be fraudulent or based on incorrect information.

The grant per eligible employee is two thirds of their 'normal pay', up to a limit of £2,083.33 per month. The government will provide further detail on how normal pay is calculated.

Employers will be able to use the JSS Closed whilst their premises are closed and move employees onto the JSS Open if they are eligible when they are able to re-open.

The government has produced a policy paper on the JSS and a factsheet on the JSS Open.

Please contact us for further information on the JSS.