The information on this page was last updated on Tuesday 13th October 2020.
On 31st October 2020 the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will come to an end. From November 2020, businesses can access wage subsidy support for eligible employees through the Job Support Scheme.
See below FAQ for the Job Support Scheme and contact us for advice on how it might apply to your business.
Understanding the Job Support Scheme
Q. Is the furlough scheme ending on 31st October 2020?
Yes. Rishi Sunak confirmed on 24th September that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is not going to be extended beyond 31st October 2020. He announced the Job Support Scheme as alternative business support.
Q. What is the Job Support Scheme?
This is a way that the UK Government are offering to support SMEs as an alternative to employers making redundancies.
If an employer has work for few hours (at least 33% of an employee’s original hours), they can offer them to the employee and pay these as normal. The Government and the employer will then each pay 1/3 of the remaining unworked hours. This leaves 1/3 of unworked hours (22%) unpaid.
All SMEs will be eligible.
On Friday 9th October 2020 it was announced that eligibility for the Job Support Scheme has been increased to accommodate financial support for businesses who are legally required to close by the government. This is additional support on top of the opportunity for business owners to reduce working hours for their employees.
Q. When does the scheme start?
It starts on 1st November 2020.
Q. How long will the Job Support Scheme run for?
The scheme runs for six months from 1st November 2020 to 1st April 2021.
Q. Are there any other alternatives to making staff redundant?
Yes, you can consider the following:
- Layoffs for a temporary period
- Reducing hours for a temporary period
- Reducing hours for a permanent period
Contact us for advice before doing so.
Q. Are all employees eligible for this scheme?
Only employees who were on the employer’s payroll on or before 23rd September 2020 are eligible.
Q. I didn’t need to furlough any employees, but we are struggling to find work for them all now – can we use this scheme?
Yes you can.
Q. There is really low footfall near my business, and I can’t afford to keep open whilst people are being encouraged to stay at home. This is because of the Government so can I close my business and use the scheme?
No. Your business must be expressly instructed to close by the Government. However, you may be able to make use of the scheme if employees are working reduced hours.
Q. What happens if the Government insists that my business close?
If you are instructed to close the business and your staff cannot work at all (ie not able to work from home or another location) for one week or longer, then the Government will pay 2/3 of the employees’ salaries (capped at £2100 per month).
Q. Is this only in local lockdown areas?
No. This is a UK wide scheme, but you must be legally required to close by the Government. You cannot choose to close.
Q. What if we need to make redundancies anyway, can we do that and use the scheme at the same time as this will help with saving costs?
No. Employees cannot be made redundant or put on notice of redundancy during the period in which their employer is claiming the grant for those individuals. For those employees who you are not including in the scheme, you may choose to make those roles redundant, but it’s important that you take advice from your local HR Dept office.
Q. Do I have to say in advance what hours I want the employees to work?
Employees can go on and off the scheme and work different patterns, as long as each working arrangement covers a minimum seven-day period.
Q. What’s the minimum number of hours I can reduce employees’ contracts to?
For the first 3 months of the scheme, the employee must work at least 33% of their usual hours. The government has reserved the right to increase this threshold from month four onwards. Please keep an eye on this page for updates.
Q. Can I place an employee on a zero hours contract, calling them when I need them, if they are on the Job Support Scheme?
No, they must work at least 1/3 of their original contracted hours.
Q. The scheme refers to ‘usual wages’, what happens where employees have been furloughed or on reduced hours?
‘Usual wages’ are based on their normal pay, not furlough pay. Where working hours have been reduced, please contact us for advice to ensure you are not in breach of your employment contracts.
Q. Can we top up wages to 100% like we did on the furlough scheme?
Not if you get your employees to agree – contact your local HR Dept office for advice.
Q. What about National Insurance or Pension contributions?
The employer is responsible for paying these still – there is no government contribution.
Making a claim under the scheme
Q. How do I claim for funding under the Job Support Scheme?
HMRC claims service will be available from early December – your accountant should be able to advise you further.
Q. Do I need to do any documentation like with the furlough scheme?
Yes, you do. Your local HR Dept office will have templates that you can use.
Do you run a business and have a HR question about coronavirus?
The HR Dept provide outsourced HR support to employers. If you are an employee we would suggest that you contact Acas.
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