Job Support Scheme

The information below was last updated on Thursday 17th December 2020.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended until September 2021 and replaces the Job Support Scheme.

Understanding the Job Support Scheme

Q. Did the furlough scheme end on 31st October 2020?
No. It was originally scheduled to end on this date but it has been extended until the September 2021.

We do not have details yet as to if and when the Job Support Scheme will follow the extended Job Retention Scheme.

There are two elements to the Job Support Scheme:

  • Job Support Scheme Open – this is the scheme for businesses who are allowed to continue to trade by the Government
  • Job Support Scheme Closed – this is the scheme for businesses who the Government has instructed to close.

Q. What is the Job Support Scheme Open?

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 20% of an employee’s original hours), they can offer them to the employee and pay these as normal. Of the remaining unworked hours, the employer pays 5% and the Government pays up to 61.67% of unworked hours (capped at £1541.75 per month). The remaining usual salary would be unpaid.

A written agreement with concerned employees must be obtained and kept for five years. Ask us for further advice on getting this right.

Q. What is the Job Support Scheme Closed?

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).

A written agreement with concerned employees must be obtained and kept for five years. Ask us for further advice on getting this right.

Q. When does the scheme start?

The scheme was scheduled to start on 8th December 2020. However it has been delayed due to the extended Job Retention Scheme.

Q. How long will the Job Support Scheme run for?

We do not have details on this yet.

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 (excluding the Job Support Scheme)
  • Reducing hours for a permanent period

Contact us for advice before doing so.


Q. Are all employees eligible for the Job Support scheme?

Only employees who were on the employer’s payroll on or before 23rd September 2020 are eligible. However this may change.

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 use the Job Support Scheme Open.

Working hours for the JSS Open

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. Temporary working arrangements must be agreed and documented for five years.

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 20% 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 20% 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?

Yes, topping up to 100% is at the employer’s discretion.

Q. What about National Insurance or Pension contributions?

The employer is responsible for paying these still – there is no government contribution.

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 JSS Closed Scheme?

No. Your business must be expressly instructed to close by the Government in order to use the JSS Closed Scheme. However, you may be able to make use of the scheme if employees are working reduced hours.

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. Temporary working agreements must be documented and kept for five years.

We can advise you on the appropriate documentation for your business depending upon your circumstances so please get in touch with your local office.



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.

Looking for expert HR support?

We can help you focus on your business by taking care of all your human resources needs.

Let us know how we can help or ask about our free initial HR review.

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