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Job Support Scheme – Open Scheme Updates and Closed Business Scheme Overview

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By Lucy Farrow-Smith

Job Support Scheme – Open Scheme Update

On 22 October, the Chancellor announced that there had been changes to the new Job Support Scheme (JSS) in order to further help businesses keep on staff. The announcement has seen an increase in the amount of support available to employers compared to those discussed in our previous article.

What are the changes?

The changes are as follows:

  • The minimum hours required for employees to work has dropped from 33% to 20% - employees can undertake training in their working hours and they can undertake training voluntarily in non-working hours.

  • The employer contribution for non-worked hours has dropped to 5%, up to a maximum of £125 per month, with the discretion to pay more than this if the employer wishes.

  • The government will pay 61.67% of hours not worked up to a cap of £1,541.75 per month.

These changes mean that employees continue to receive at least 73% of their normal wages, where they earn £3,125 a month or less.

Please note that employers must have agreed the temporary working arrangement for shorter hours in writing with the employees.

How to claim

Employers make a claim online through GOV.UK from 8 December 2020, covering salary for pay periods ending and paid in November. A claim can only be submitted in respect of a given pay period, after payment to the employee has been made and that payment has been reported to HMRC via an RTI return.

Please see our previous article on the JSS which summarises the eligibility criteria.

Job Support Scheme – Closed Business Premises Overview

On 9 October, the government announced an extension of the JSS to provide temporary support to businesses whose premises are legally required to close as a result of coronavirus restrictions imposed by the government. This extends to premises that are restricted to delivery or collection only services from their premises, but does not include closures set by local public health authorities as a result of workplace outbreaks.

Employees on the scheme will receive two thirds of their wages for the time not worked. Their employer has the discretion to pay more than this if they wish. The government will pay a grant to employers covering up to two-thirds of employee’s normal pay, subject to a maximum of £2,083.33 per month. The grant can only be claimed for employees who cannot work for a minimum of seven consecutive calendar days and covers employees’ wages and relevant payroll taxes, but not employer National Insurance contributions or pension contributions.

The scheme is available from 1 November 2020 and will be reviewed in January. If, when the premises re-open, the employers have reduced demand, then the employers can claim under the JSS Open Scheme as referred to above.

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